03/18/2010 05:12 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Escaping Domestic Violence: Ms. J's Struggle

A woman's struggle with domestic violence doesn't always end after escape from the abuser. As Annette John-Hall reports in the Philadelphia Inquirer, escape from a violent relationship can be the start of a new world of conflicts:

For several months, Ms. J has lived with her daughters in a women's shelter for domestic-abuse victims. She isn't even sure where her other children live every night. See, the shelter doesn't allow men, and J's sons are too old to stay there. Oh, did I mention the family pet had to go into foster care, too? J's situation is every woman's nightmare, but it's not unusual in cases of domestic violence.

John-Hall refers to her subject as Ms. J, out of concerns that her ex-boyfriend could find her. Her and her children stayed at a Days Inn for several days, and later slept in their car when they could no longer afford to pay for a hotel room. "This is a place of business, not a shelter," the manager told her. It's not just an isolated problem. Domestic violence is the leading cause of homelessness among women.

John-Hall's column indicates that these post-escape struggles may be one reason why victims are often so reluctant to leave their abusers. The fear of what may lay outside the "safety" of home can be even more frightening than the prospect of further abuse.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and there are several actions anyone can take to help educate people about the very real danger women and families face as a consequence of abuse:

  • Mary Kay encourages consumers to sign a petition that would encourage legislators to make domestic violence education a teaching requirement in high schools.
  • Friends of victims can encourage them to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. This resource provides counseling and support to men, women and children who are affected by domestic violence.
  • Break The Cycle provides resources for parents and teens to help end domestic violence.
  • Knowledge is an necessary resource for victims. can answer necessary questions, such as how to get a restraining order and where to go after leaving an abuser.