Last night, someone suggested that a girl we know might be a masochist, because she stayed in an abusive relationship. I cannot even begin to tell you how livid I was. This girl we know was like any 19 year old girl in college, who fell in love, and made very common dating mistakes. In the end, however, it turned out her college sweetheart, was no sweetheart at all, and was in fact in need of much mental help.
Eventually, she got herself out of the relationship, immediately turned her life around, got a law degree, accomplished great things, and has turned her nightmare into an educational experience for others. To call her a masochist, because she was young and in love, and didn't know how to give up on someone she loved is entirely out of line. What would you do if someone you loved deeply needed help, and try as you might, you just can't? Many of us run into that situation when for example, a loved one has an addiction issue. Sometimes you can't help those you love, but it doesn't stop us from trying. So, this girl tried to help someone she loved, until she realized that she needed to help herself first, before it was too late.
To call her a masochist is not only extremely offensive, but it is ignorant and infuriating. It is also a form of victim blaming. This statement is telling us that she chose to be in that relationship, so it's her fault that she got it as bad as she did. We all tell ourselves that if our partner ever hit us, we will walk out immediately. Yes, some of us are able to do that, but for many the cycle of abuse has begun long before the physical abuse has. Very commonly, victims of abuse by an intimate partner have been verbal or emotionally abused long before any physical violence begins. Our society teaches us that physical violence is bad, but it doesn't show us what nonphysical violence may look like.
It is very easy to point the finger and say, "Oh, she chose to be in that relationship," but it is a very inaccurate statement. Staying in an abusive relationship is not about choice. It is far more complicated than that. There is a lot of psychology involved, and if there are children involved, the complications are then escalated.
I won't get into all the details of this issue in this post, though there are a plethora of organizations' website you can visit, some of which are listed on the homepage under "Useful Friends." My point in writing this tonight is to ask you not to blame the victim. It was not her choice. When we blame the victim, we encourage acceptance of dating/domestic violence, and we encourage victims to stay quiet. The stats tell us 1 in 3 women will experience some kind of abuse from an intimate partner, but those stats are only of those that were actually reported, while many cases go unreported.
Be excellent to one another.
BIG LOVE & HUGS