Oftentimes, a battered woman finds herself at the financial mercy of her abuser. As Karen noted with her mother’s boyfriends, men who batter typically are highly insecure and “control freaks,” which means the car, bank accounts and likely any other possessions are in their name, not the woman’s. Sometimes, she said, women are concerned their abuser will punish the children without her physically around as buffer. “Some women will stay if they think that they maybe can manage it better by staying with the abuser, or if they worry that he will take it out on the kids if she’s not around,” Welby-Moretti pointed out.
Since the victim of a batterer is often regarded as a “possession” and brainwashed to believe she is, Karen explained how her mother often got into trouble with her abusive boyfriends when she simply would go out with a friend, visit her family or do something without his permission. Karen said from the youngest age, her mother would often hand her the phone to prove to the man on the other end that she was where she said she was. Karen said her mother’s lies about her comings and goings often result in arguments to bruises to tears to apologies and then into a one-month-or-less “honeymoon” period before the cycle resumes and things get bad again.
When a woman leaves, Welby-Moretti said, her income goes down while his goes up. More often than not, the batterer is deeply threatened by a woman walking out on him and will use money as leverage, which becomes even more powerful when there are children involved.
If a man hits you once, Welby-Moretti insisted, it is only a matter of time until he hits you again, even if it’s a year later. Even if they are incredibly sorry. Welby-Moretti said that unless an abuser gets serious intervention, the abuse will develop into a pattern.
Welby-Moretti encourages women to devise safety plans prior to leaving. “When a woman calls, we say she must leave now because we cannot hold space,” she said. “Call us and we will help you make a safety plan. Not that it’s always possible, because if something happens in the middle of the night when you have to get out, you have got to get out.” She suggested victims have clothes packed and medications and important papers stashed elsewhere — like at a friend’s house — as well as an extra set of keys. Also a signal, maybe with a neighbor, such as if the blinds are down, call the police. Never say to the man that you are leaving, she cautions. “That’s when a woman in danger is in triple-danger, and when we see our murder-suicides, because that’s when he feels he is losing ultimate control … and [feeling] ‘If I can’t have you, then no one else will.’ Don’t ever say you are going to leave. Just leave.”
Family of Woodstock is encouraging those with social media profiles, such as Facebook, to change their profile pictures for the month of October to the purple Domestic Violence Awareness ribbon, easily found through Google.
Some of the resources available in Ulster for victims include the Family Domestic Violence Services hotline, which can be reached 24 hours-a-day at (845) 338-2370 and the county Crime Victims Assistance Program, which can be reached at (845) 340-3443. These programs provide counseling, a shelter, as well as legal and financial support for victims. For more information on Family of Woodstock’s program, visit http://www.familyofwoodstockinc.org/domestic-violence.html. For more information on the Crime Victims Assistance Program, visit co.ulster.ny.us/cvap.