March 20, 2014
The question is often asked: If the abuse is so bad, why doesn't she just leave? People stay for many reasons, such as:
• The victim fears the batterer, believing the batterer to be almost "godlike." Often threats are made against the victim. For example, the batterer will kill the victim if the beatings are reported to anyone.
• The victim may be economically dependent on the batterer and, not having a marketable job skill, the victim has no realistic alternative to the batterer's financial support.
• Often the victim stays for the sake of the children "needing a father," or the batterer may make threats of violence against the children if the victim tries to leave. The batterer frequently threatens to take the children away from the victim if the victim leaves.
• Victims often feel tremendous shame and embarrassment and use denial as a way of coping with the abuse.
These are just some of the most common reasons why the victim feels helpless and stays in a destructive relationship, according to mental health professionals.
The public is encouraged to see The Clothesline Project, a service of the North Dakota Council on Abused Women's Services, during its April visit to the University of Mary campus. The Clothesline Project is a touring visual display of 230 T-shirts with handmade messages and graphic illustrations from victims that bear witness to violence against women and children in North Dakota.
The Clothesline Project will be displayed in the gathering space of Our Lady of Annunciation Chapel in the Benedictine Center for Servant Leadership building on Wednesday, April 2, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Thursday, April 3, from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday, April 4, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The University of Mary Student Counseling, Student Life and Social Work Program sponsor this event.
Simply put, The Clothesline Project is just one small way for victims of sexual and domestic abuse to tell their stories through art.