Perhaps the greatest example of realism in reality television's “Housewives of Orange County” was the episode in which housewife Taylor Armstrong conceals a black eye which apparently goes unnoticed in the script of this “tell all” show.
Covering up the true cause of one's injuries by fabricating their origin is not uncommon for victims of domestic violence and something that emergency medical personnel see played out in hospitals all over the country. Furthermore, victims often downplay the events which result in personal injury, taking responsibility for aggravating their abuser. Given that October is recognized as Domestic Abuse Awareness Month, this is the time to consider that one in four families are affected by domestic violence.
I'm often asked “why do victims stay or return to their abusers”?
The fact is that the deck is stacked against the victim when confronted with leaving. The victim isn't the one breaking the law or causing the harm and yet to leave in many instances is to become homeless. To choose to leave impacts the lives of their children; where will they live, will they continue to attend their school, see their friends and relatives?
Some of the barriers we find in victims choosing not to leave are fear, shame and embarrassment. Domestic violence victims don't want the relationship to end; they want the abuse to end. Choosing to make a change, they ask themselves, will they take my children away, will I be deported, can I afford to go it alone with my kids, or will I need to go back for financial reasons? These are not easy questions to resolve.
Another thing we know about the victims of domestic violence is that they are strong. The abuser needs them to be strong and to believe things can change. If the victim were weak they wouldn't hang in there and keep trying. The abuser chips away at the victim's self esteem over time using a model of power and control. The key here is that when victim leaves, they have the opportunity to heal and to regain their personal strength. They have the chance to become the strong person and parent we know they can be outside of this relationship.