By Christine Murray, See the Triumph Co-Founder
Abuse is wrong. At See the Triumph, we believe firmly that there is no place for abuse in our society and especially in healthy relationships. We also believe that people who perpetrate abuse should be held fully accountable for their actions and the consequences of them.
Unfortunately, however, all too often it is the survivors of the abuse who end up paying the price for their abusers’ actions. Consider the following statements made by participants in our research:
“It upsets me that I have to pay for what other people have done to me.”
“I have to pay financially, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually for the cruelty of others.”
If abuse is wrong in the first place, how much more insult is added to injury when victims and survivors of abuse are forced to pay the extensive costs that often are involved in their recovery process. These costs can come in many forms: counseling and medical bills, legal fees for quality representation in criminal and family court, lost income due to missed work during and after the relationship, and replacing items destroyed or lost in the process of leaving the relationships, to name just a few.
In a small number of actual cases, survivors may have access to victim’s compensation funds to help offset some of these costs. However, we’ve heard from many survivors in our See the Triumph research studies that they were left to bear the burden of the financial costs of the abuse on their own. This becomes even more challenging when their abusers had limited their work and educational options as a form of control in the relationship.
Together, we must continue to develop solutions to ensure that abusers are held accountable for bearing the full responsibility for their abuse and its consequences, and this includes the financial costs for survivors. When abusers refuse or are unable to pay the price, community resources should do all they can to help support survivors in covering these financial costs and keeping services free or low-cost.
Victims do not choose to be abused--their abusers choose to act in violent, abusive ways. Let’s keep working to ensure that victims and survivors do not have to pay the price for the actions of others who have already attempted to hurt them in so many other ways.