4. Turned Away from Shelters
Women’s shelters are for victims of domestic violence, right? Well, in theory, yes, but there are some shocking exceptions to the rule. Some discriminate against transgender women, refusing them access to domestic violence services. Others bar boys above a certain age and/or pets, which makes it difficult for women to safely evacuate their homes without leaving loved ones behind. A woman with a 17-year-old son, for example, might not be able to get him to safety when she leaves for a shelter, so she may make the dangerous and crushing decision to stay after getting the courage to leave, because she doesn’t want to abandon her son in an abusive situation.
Some shelters are working to change this, opening their doors to pets, for example, lifting discriminatory bans on trans women, and working with partner organizations to provide shelter to teens and help families stay together.
5. Victim Blaming
Victims of domestic violence may find themselves in the odd position of being told that was is happening to them is their fault; they should have been more or less assertive, shouldn’t have been involved in abusive relationships in the first place, should have listened to advice, should have gotten out sooner… This attitude pervades society, profiling victims as those at fault instead of targeting the people who commit domestic violence.
Similar attitudes can be seen in response to rape and sexual assault, where the first reaction is often to ask what the victim did, rather than looking to the attacker.
Victim blaming is what lies at the root of all of our backwards social attitudes about domestic violence, and sadly, it can’t be nipped in the bud with legislation or wiped away with ordinances. It requires outreach, education and a fundamental change in how we talk about domestic violence as a society.
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