Recently, on Facebook, a question was posed about what factors contributed to women needing to leave a marriage and not have resources to be able to do so.
Most of the answers showed that the common belief, is that women have a lack of education (i.e. career to fall back on), and they got married or had children at a young age.
There are many commonly held false beliefs surrounding domestic violence.
Who is abused?
Anyone can be abused. Everyone can be susceptible to the right abusive approach. It’s like the science experiment of boiling a frog in water. The frog doesn’t recognize the danger until it’s too late. The water is any circumstance where the abuser can take control of the victim, slowly and gradually. The victim could be highly educated, or never high school. The victim could have a well paying career, or no career at all. They could come from a broken home where they were abused as a child, or they could come from a supportive family who instilled a strong and healthy sense of self. A victim can come from a rich family or a poor one. A victim can be male, female, transgender, gay, straight, bi, or asexual.
There is no community, caste, background, career, education, family or wealth that protects against domestic violence. No family is fully immune to abuse.
So, the abused are all around us.
Being educated, having a family later in life, those aren’t signs that a marriage will be safe or lasting, unfortunately.
My sister, Lily, did not finish her last semester of high school. Her husband did, but did not pursue post-secondary education. They married young, Lily was only 18 years old and she was 24(ish) when she had her first child. He worked in manufacturing and she worked in retail, took time off when the children were born, then returned to work as a waitress and finally as a secretary. When Lily was killed, she was 36 and at the height of her career, finally coming into her own, discovering her place in the working world. She was building herself up. She was discovering her worth.
Abusers don’t like their victims strengthened. Where possible, they will simply beat them down again – with verbal abuse, and if that doesn’t work, physical violence. Worst case scenario, they’ll kill to keep possession of their victim.
My best friend has a college degree, waited til she was finished university to get married and started having her children around age 28. She was raised in a Christian, relatively supportive, healthy home with a nuclear family, her parents are still together after over 50 years, her siblings are also all still married. Her abusive husband also came from a Christian, stable family home, and has a successful career. He waited til the honeymoon to reveal his violence, but she had been taught marriage would be hard, it would take sacrifice, and it must be protected at all costs. Divorce is not an option.
Churches often work to save marriages, not people. Which is completely opposite to how God sees salvation.
I attended University, but did not complete it. I did attend trade school and worked successfully in my chosen career for a number of years before marriage and then before the children came along. We dated for two years and I was 27 when we married, 31 by the time we had our first child.
I did not recognize the struggles in our marriage were abusive until it began to turn violent after the children came along.
It is often not until we see our children are affected by the abuse that we find the courage to stay gone.
It is not until someone else we loved has become affected by the abuse that we take a stand against it.