Sold out

“Is having no option to leave the same as making a decision to stay?” Jill Davies posed this question at a training this week. She offered this analogy: “If all the tickets to a Stevie Wonder concert were sold out, does that mean you made a decision not to go?” Heck no! I missed Stevie’s concert when I was 19 and I’ve been sad about it ever since!sold-out-ticket

We have to change our assumptions about survivors who can’t or don’t leave their abusive partner. Most of our solutions for survivors of abuse are based on ending the relationship, but that ignores their reality. Survivors often have ongoing contact with their abusive partner for many reasons—a big one is children. As Jill reiterates, “Leaving is not the answer to domestic violence, reducing violent behavior is.” Leaving might be a part of the strategy to reduce violent behavior but it is a strategy not the strategy.

At that training, I promised to never again say a survivor is in denial or minimizing (code for “she’s not doing what I think she should be doing or she doesn’t get how bad things are”). Any strategy that’s going to help a survivor of abuse must respect her decisions about what works for her and her family.

And I’m happy to report that I got to catch Stevie in concert last year.


2 thoughts on “Sold out”

  1. I love this reframe!

    however, I do think minimizing DOES happen– sometimes as a coping mechanism used by survivors against people constantly judging them and sometimes internalizing the messages by others telling them “it’s not that bad”

    and… glad you got to see Stevie :)

  2. Thanks for taking the time to comment — I am grateful for Jill Davies reframe on supporting survivors. While I do agree with you that survivors may minimize as a coping strategy, it doesn’t mean that survivors are not realistic about what is happening to them. I think when others label survivor’s behavior as “minimizing,” they are not only making assumptions about what the survivor understands about their own life, but also replacing the survivor’s judgement of their relationship and circumstances with their own. I can see that you are not judging survivors choices and I appreciate the opportunity to continue this conversation.

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