Why doesn’t she just leave?
Imagine if instead of saying “why doesn’t she leave him?” we said “why doesn’t he leave her?” Imagine if we thought that men who control, threaten and manipulate women are responsible for their actions and that they should be the ones to leave.
Imagine if wondering why she puts up with it, we wonder why he does it in the first place.
Imagine if, as bystanders, we offered helpful practical advice to abusers like “could you move in with your dad?”, “could you talk to your brother about it?” or “is there somewhere else you could go?”.
Unsafe houses for men
Imagine if there was there a place they could go - unsafe houses for abusive men. A place that would remove them from the situation to eliminate the risk of continuing violence against their current partners and future partners. A half way house between home and prison. Imagine if unsafe houses got government funding to run. Imagine if they were run by specialists trained to help men to take responsibility for their actions and get either professional help or punishment.
Imagine if councils offered emergency housing for abusive men who felt they were at risk of abusing their partner again. Imagine if men were encouraged to get help when they needed it.
A men’s issue
Imagine if we thought that violence perpetrated against women by men was a men’s issue. Imagine if men became passionate and enthusiastic about solving their issue. Imagine men’s charities devoted to solving this men’s issue springing up all over the country.
Imagine men collecting money for these charities, setting up unsafe houses, manning helplines and setting up advice centres for men who want to leave. Imagine male journalists and bloggers writing about it and tweeting about it. Imagine having a Men’s Minister dedicated to solving their problem.
Research into men’s behaviour
Imagine well-funded and well-publicised university research into why men abuse their partners and what makes them stop. Imagine the tabloids enthusiastically reporting on this. Imagine government-funded public campaigns aimed at men urging them to get help.
Imagine if violent, controlling men took responsibility for their actions. Imagine if other men helped them to do this. Imagine if it became possible for men to talk about their issue.
Imagine if instead of thinking victims are silly for thinking their partners will change, we held men responsible for actually changing.
Imagine if, as campaigners, practitioners, survivors and women, we could spend our energies doing other things.
Imagine what we could do.