The most talked about topic when it comes to Domestic Violence is ‘Why Does She Stay?’. My blog is no exception and I talked about it in several posts including: Questions, Enough is Enough and What Women Lose When They Leave.
I have had one more insight recently. As humans, we think on average 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts a day, and of those thoughts as many as 98% are the same as the day before. Wait. Think about that. How often do you run into someone you haven’t seen for months or years, and they ask you ‘What’s new?’ And you think, and you realize and honestly respond ‘Not much.’
Now here’s the thing, how many of those thoughts do you think are generational? What do I mean by generational? How many thoughts do you think are the same thoughts your parents had? And their parents before them? And so on? Come with me on this journey. We hear of family feuds, family business’s, genetic diseases, so many things passed on from one family member to the next. Now, many people know that this can include abuse. Children who are abused often become abusers, or end up in abusive relationships themselves when they become adults.
Keep all of that in the back of your mind, and think of it from this perspective: How long have women had Women’s Rights that allow them to hold jobs, vote, and own property without a man? This history lesson is based off of facts in the United States, however it is very similar in countries throughout the world. The 19th Amendment allowed women to vote in 1920, less than 100 years and 3 generations ago. The 1870 US Census revealed that women were 15% of the total workforce, largely filling teaching, dress making, and tailoring, with a few women also filling factory, mining, and laborer positions. In early 1900, women were expected to wait for the ‘right’ man to come along and start a family, while the man provided for the family. This began to change, and as such, woman began seeking further education. In 1900 four out of five colleges accepted female students. Both World War I and World War II opened up thousands of jobs for women in the workforce. Between the 1930’s and 1950’s, Marriage Bars, which forced women out of the work force after marriage, were eliminated. It wasn’t until the 1970’s that women began to regularly attend college, and work even while married, the notion that a woman has to find a man and be married in order to make a good income finally began to change. There are some laws to protect women in the workforce, like the Maternity Protection Convention, 2000, that were put into place as recently as 2002. On April 24, 2018, (the date this writing) New Jersey passed a law that bans women being paid less than their male counterparts. Equal Pay for women is a current issue, and still ongoing. In 1974 The Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed. Before then single, divorced, or widowed women were required to bring a man to cosign any credit application, regardless of her income.
Why does she stay? Have you ever thought part of that reason is because only in the last forty years or so women have been able to even own property without the help of a man? And even still today women are working the same jobs as men, and getting paid less for doing that work in some states. Women have lived their lives for so long with no other option but to rely on a man. If we truly think 98% of the same thoughts day in and day out, is it little wonder that when a woman considers leaving an abuser, she thinks thoughts about how will she survive? How will she provide for herself and her children? Where will she live? How will the courts reward things like the marital property? Possessions? Even Custody?
The truth is the answer to the question, ‘Why does she stay?’ is varied, difficult to answer and understand, and complex. I invite you to be patient with her. Love her anyway, and change your question to ‘How can I help?’ Even if it simply is being a listening ear while she stays and navigates through her marriage and her life.