“Why doesn’t she leave?”

Leslie Morgan Steiner
Leslie Morgan Steiner

Leslie Morgan Steiner, a Harvard graduate, journalist, and best selling author, met “Connor” on the New York City subway when she was 22.  He sat next to her on the train, and began “chatting her up.” With his big apple cheeks and wheat-blond hair, he charmed her; he was sweet, funny, intelligent, and a Ivy League-educated young man who loved his job at an impressive Wall Street bank. “There was not a hint of anger, control, or violence in Connor,” she said.

Morgan Steiner fell deeply in love, and married him. What followed was a relationship that evolved into a chilling nightmare, filled with horrific abuse.

She proclaims herself as a “typical” domestic violence victim because of her age and because she knew nothing about domestic violence’s warning signs and patterns.

Despite having guns held to her head so many times that she cannot count, pushed down the stairs, and beaten one to two times a week for two years, she did not know Connor was abusing her. “I thought I was a strong woman in love with a deeply troubled man, and I was the only one on earth who could help Connor face his demons,” Morgan Steiner said.

In her TED Talk, Morgan Steiner, describing the horror which became her life, said that victims are often cast as “self-destructive women and damaged goods.”

She also answered the question: “Why doesn’t she just leave?” For her, this is the saddest, most painful question people ask―often code for “It’s her fault for staying,” she said. “We victims know something you usually don’t: It’s incredibly dangerous to leave an abuser because the final step in the domestic violence pattern is ‘Kill her,'” she stated. Statistics report that more than 70 percent of domestic violence murders happen after the victim has ended the relationship, after she has gotten out, because then the abuser has nothing left to lose,” according to Morgan Steiner.

She tells us that you and I have the power to end domestic violence simply by shining a spot light on it. “Victims need everyone of you to understand the secrets of domestic violence,” she urged. “Show  abuse the light of day by talking about it with your children, your co-workers, your friends and family; recast survivors as wonderful, lovable people with full futures; recognize the early signs of violence and conscientiously intervene, de-escalate it, and show victims a safe way out,” she urged.

Listen to Morgan Steiner’s powerful TED Talk.

By: Susan L. Banovetz, director of communications, The Advocates for Human Rights

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