Talk about one step forward and two steps back.
It would appear that despite growing awareness and changing perceptions about violence, we still have a long way to go when it comes to the way we view victims of domestic abuse.
Interval House, a shelter for female victims of domestic violence, commissioned a survey to gauge opinion about where we place the blame regarding abusive relationships, following high-profile cases in the media.
And the online poll, conducted by Angus Reid Forum, turned up some pretty ugly truths about us.
Of the 868 Ontarians who were asked if they agreed with the statement, “A person is responsible for the consequences if they stay in an abusive relationship,” 37.4 per cent either agreed or strongly agreed.
Of those who are residents in the GTA, 40 per cent concurred with the statement.
And this statistic went up even more for males – almost half of men (46.3 per cent) agreed with the sentiment. Meanwhile a lower percentage of women were in agreement – 28.9 of those polled.
The survey also asked people if they agreed with another statement: “Women can lie or exaggerate about experiencing domestic violence.”
The results were:
– Ontario: 66% agree
– GTA: 64.9% agree
– Men: 69.3% agree
– Women: 62.9% agree
This statistic is even more startling, as 43.5 per cent of those surveyed said they knew someone who had been abusive towards a romantic partner.
Arlene McCalla, the executive co-director at Interval House, told CityNews, “It can be terrifying for a woman to come forward, and our first job as supporters is to believe what she is saying, and to understand that leaving an abuser is a difficult decision and a potentially dangerous action.”
The statistics, though worrying, aren’t hard to believe. In the past, I’ve watched the Godfather with friends who have rolled their eyes dramatically as Connie is beaten black and blue by her lout of a husband Carlo, before asking, ‘ugh, why doesn’t she just leave him already?’
This shouldn’t be as surprising given that the film was made in 1972 and is bound to be a little dated. The trouble is, I was watching it in 2015 and the opinions of some friends are stuck a generation and a half in the past.
This survey shows us that we need to stop pointing the blame at the victims and instead start asking questions of the abuser. By wondering why someone stayed in a violent relationship, we’re laying the blame at the victim’s door. Perhaps we’re doing this because it’s simply easier to comprehend; easier to be frustrated by women who won’t make – the choice we deem most obvious – the decision to leave.
But if we continue to doubt the women who do actually come forward, is it any wonder that others hesitate to leave violent relationships?
To help, share, retweet or mention the hashtag #NotHerFault. For every one of those social media actions Wyse Meter Solutions will donate $5.
Also, let’s all collectively get our heads out of our asses while we’re at it, k?