“𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑠𝑡𝑎𝑦𝑒𝑑 𝑤𝑖𝑡ℎ ℎ𝑖𝑚 𝑡𝑜𝑜 𝑙𝑜𝑛𝑔.”
“𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑢𝑠𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑘𝑛𝑜𝑤𝑛 𝑡ℎ𝑒 𝑘𝑖𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑓 𝑝𝑒𝑟𝑠𝑜𝑛 𝑠ℎ𝑒 𝑤𝑎𝑠 𝑚𝑎𝑟𝑟𝑦𝑖𝑛𝑔.”
“𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑚𝑢𝑠𝑡 ℎ𝑎𝑣𝑒 𝑠𝑎𝑖𝑑 𝑠𝑜𝑚𝑒𝑡ℎ𝑖𝑛𝑔 𝑡𝑜 𝑚𝑎𝑘𝑒 ℎ𝑖𝑚 𝑠𝑛𝑎𝑝.”
“𝑆ℎ𝑒 𝑝𝑟𝑜𝑏𝑎𝑏𝑙𝑦 ℎ𝑎𝑑 𝑎 𝑏𝑜𝑦𝑓𝑟𝑖𝑒𝑛𝑑 ℎ𝑒 𝑓𝑜𝑢𝑛𝑑 𝑜𝑢𝑡 𝑎𝑏𝑜𝑢𝑡.”
These are just a few of the comments I’ve heard from people today as they talk about the latest woman who appears to have been murdered by her husband.
While these people certainly weren’t saying that what happened to her was ok or justifiable or understandable - they were 100% victim blaming.
And it’s 100% not ok.
The reality is that there are many women just like her who will die at the hands of their partners.
In fact, 23% of women have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner during their lifetime (National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 2020).
𝑺𝒆𝒗𝒆𝒓𝒆. 𝑷𝒉𝒚𝒔𝒊𝒄𝒂𝒍. 𝑽𝒊𝒐𝒍𝒆𝒏𝒄𝒆.
That means that about 1 in 4 women have experienced severe physical violence from an intimate partner.
1 in 4.
Think about the women in your life right now.
Your fellow gym-goers.
Your kids’ teachers.
The women with you in line at the grocery store or at the coffee shop, or seated on the bench beside you at the youth basketball game, or waiting in the car in front of you in the elementary school pick up line.
The next woman in the news cycle could easily be one of them.
I promise you that right now at least 1 in 4 of those women are quietly watching stories about women who have been killed by their partners and they understand how hard it can be to leave a violent relationship.
They fear that someday it could be them.
They lay awake in bed each night trying to figure out how to safely get away.
They think about speaking up to you for help but then hear you blame the victim or tolerate someone else blaming the victim and so they bite their tongue instead.
They try to do their best to prevent it from happening to them.
But leaving isn’t always easy or safe.
Even when money is not a concern.
Even when there is family and community support.
Even when there are restraining orders.
Even when they are trained in domestic violence intervention themselves.
Even when they know the risks.
Even when there are children involved.
It’s never as easy to leave as it seems to those of us on the outside.
So, instead of placing the blame on the victim today, let’s try to remember that we never know the full story.
And instead of blaming her for “staying too long” or marrying “a man who could snap” or having children with “a man like that,” let’s try to ask ourselves:
“What can I do to support women in my own life who might be silently struggling like she was?”
“How can I address some of the societal issues that increase the risk of domestic violence?”
“How can I give support instead of placing blame?”
Because the harsh truth is that we all need to do better.
***For anonymous, confidential help, 24/7, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY)***