There’s always talk that women and children shouldn’t have to relocate due to abuse:
“Why should she have to move?”
Of course she shouldn’t…
It would be better if we lived in a society where women and children didn’t experience violence in the family ─ if perpetrators were swiftly and effectively permanently stopped from being abusive.
Abuse can be physical ─ but it can also be emotional, psychological, financial… In the context of an intimate relationship, there are so many ways that an abuser can control you: can get into your head, as well as your heart. It can take a long time to recognise this ─ to realise how much you are only doing what he wants you to do: how you have become so used to living in fear. If anyone asked you about the “latest incident”, it would be impossible to define what an incident is within your constrained life.
Even if the perpetrator disappeared, it could take months and years to rebuild your sense of self; and to help your children learn what healthy relationships look and feel like.
There is a big difference between being just literally safe, and being in a context where you can feel free in your mind and your emotions.
Escaping ─ relocating ─ leaving ─ moving…
These are strategies that can be vital for immediate safety (because we are very far from living in a society that holds domestic violence perpetrators accountable and stops them continuing their abuse); but also for women and children to rebuild their sense of self, independence and freedom. To be in a place and amongst people who help you to make sense of the abuse in all its aspects ─ not just physical incidents ─ and to accept that you are not to blame.
So moving can be a crucial strategy ─ for safety and freedom. Getting away from the danger ─ but also from the constraints and memories. Meeting other women who have been through similar experiences. Clearing your head ─ and getting information and advice for your next move: whether that move is geographical or emotional (or both).
It shouldn’t be for anyone else to force you to move ─ or to force you to stay.
We need a society where all options are really available for women and children experiencing domestic violence.