FKA Twigs is exactly right – why do we still ask abuse victims why they didn’t leave? | Arwa Mahdawi

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Flipping the narrative on abuse

Why did you drink a lot? Why did you put on such a brief skirt? Why didn’t you name the police? Why did you place your self in that scenario? Why did you keep so lengthy if it was actually that unhealthy? Why didn’t you simply go away?

It’s a well-known chorus isn’t it? Whenever a lady accuses a person of abuse there’s an instantaneous refrain of victim-blaming. The accuser is put underneath a microscope: her historical past’s dug up, her actions are scrutinized, her motivations are analysed. A standard narrative emerges: the girl is one way or the other chargeable for what a person did to her.

On Thursday, the British musician FKA twigs went on CBS This Morning for her first TV interview since she accused the actor Shia LaBeouf of “relentless” bodily, emotional and verbal abuse in a lawsuit filed last December. (LaBeouf has denied the allegations.) And, positive sufficient, it wasn’t lengthy earlier than interviewer Gayle King requested one of many standard “why” questions.

“Nobody who’s been in this position likes this question,” King acknowledged. “[A]nd I often wonder if it’s even appropriate to ask … why didn’t you leave?”

Twigs replied: “We have to stop asking that question … I’m not going to answer that question any more. Because the question should really be to the abuser: why are you holding someone hostage with abuse? People say it can’t have been that bad, because else you would’ve left. But it’s like, no, it’s because it was that bad, I couldn’t leave.”

Twigs’s use of the phrase “hostage” is vital. “Coercive control is akin to hostage taking,” notes Jess Hill, the writer of See What You Made Me Do, an award-winning investigation into home violence. “Most people still think of domestic violence and abuse as a set of discrete incidents: assaults, put-downs, threats. But when it comes to coercive control, we’re talking about a system of abuse that operates like a cobweb, each strand pulling tighter and tighter until it feels there truly is no way out. This is not just abuse or ill treatment; it is entrapment.” Perpetrators of abuse make it clear that leaving will “carry such serious consequences that it is actually safer to comply and to stay”.

Statistics bear that out. The first 90 days after leaving is probably the most harmful time for a sufferer of home abuse. Up to 75% of domestic violence homicides occur on the level when the girl is making an attempt to go away or after she has already left. Women keep to remain alive. And but we are still asking victims of abuse why they didn’t simply go away. As if it’s so simple as simply hailing a taxi and heading off to a complete new life.

Twigs has a profession, a profile, a help community, cash. She has way more assets than many victims of intimate associate violence. And but she’s still unsure how she managed to go away the scenario she was in. “I honestly wish I could say that I found some strength and I saw this light,” twigs stated in a recent Elle interview. “I wish I could say, ‘[It is] a testament to my strong character,’ or ‘It’s the way my mother raised me.’ It’s none of that. It’s pure luck that I’m not in that situation any more.” She’s talking out about her expertise, she says, as a result of she desires to indicate those that if it might occur to her it might occur to anybody. And certainly, one in 4 ladies and one in 10 males in America expertise intimate associate violence. Worldwide, nearly a 3rd of ladies who’ve been in a relationship report some type of abuse and, globally, as many as 38% of murders of women are dedicated by a male intimate associate.

While it’s miserable that we’re still asking why victims of abuse don’t simply go away, the excellent news is that the dialog round abuse is slowly rising extra refined. Hill notes that “what FKA twigs is doing in her answer to Gayle King is actually part of the massive paradigm shift that is going on right now around coercive control”; there is rising consciousness that abusers don’t simply hurt their companions however entrap them with controlling behaviour. New legal guidelines addressing coercive management have been launched or proposed in all places from California to the UK to Australia. While these legal guidelines should not a panacea – certainly some activists are worried they could have unintended penalties – the truth that they are being thought-about is an excellent factor. It factors to a much-needed reframing of how we take into consideration abuse.

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