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#WhyTheyStayed

#WhyIStayed and #WhyTheyStayed are posts about domestic violence and the many reasons we tell ourselves not to leave abusive partners.

This is about taking back power and agency in moments of abuse.

Many friends, chosen family, and tribe of all genders and orientations responded to my post on #WhyIStayed. With their permission, I am giving their words a voice so that we may raise awareness to the many other reasons why survivors choose to stay in abusive relationships.

So many amazing people taking back their power and agency! Thank you for sharing your #WhyIStayed stories!

#WhyTheyStayed

  • For the money
  • Because when you marry pregnant and catholic at 17 they already judge you and you desperately do not want to be judged any more.
  • Because everyone thought it was funny to joke what a “problem” you are. * Because my parents gave him $100 “bonus” on our anniversary every year for another year of not “returning” me. (I did not even know about it until year 5.)
  • We are programmed to think things are our fault so we think we have to stay to prove we are good.
  • Because she says she’ll change and stop abusing. But she didn’t change and she got more abusive.
  • I stayed because I thought my leaving would kill her.
  • I stayed because it felt like my fault
  • Because I would have been heartless
  • I would have been abandoning her when she was sick.
  • I stayed because I didn’t recognize it was abuse until it had gone on for far too long.
  • Because I grew up in a horrible and abusive family and became the martyr.
  • Because I thought I was a bad person simply for being alive and so I deserved pain.
  • Because nobody ever taught me love isn’t supposed to hurt.
  • Because nobody taught me I am a beloved child of Yah and deserve to be happy and deserve to be loved and deserve to he treated well (still learning).
  • Because I was depressed as hell and wanted to die.
  • Because I didn’t really understand there was an alternative.
  • Because finally somebody said “I love you” so it must be love, right?
  • Because if I just wait a little longer it’ll go back to being ok.
  • Because leaving broke my heart and I was devastated and cried for three years. Thank Yah I eventually did (and then did again) still trying to learn what healthy looks like.
  • Because when you’ve been abused your whole life you start to think thats what love is.
  • Because I was afraid that if I told people they would side with him
  • Because he made me feel like I wasn’t worthy of love and that no one would ever be there for me except for him.
  • Because emotional abuse is less obvious and more subtle… by the time you realize it, it’s so ingrained that you start to believe it.
  • Because I was told I wasn’t “marriage material” – something I still can’t see of myself after hearing it so often
  • Because I promised I would never leave, and my integrity mattered more than my happiness.
  • Because I didn’t realize just how abusive that relationship was until after it ended since it was never physical, and so it didn’t fit the image I had of abuse.
  • Because childhood taught me that the people supposed to love you often do horrible things. And that’s *normal.*
  • Because he “needed” me.
  • Because I felt like I had no one waiting for me on the other side.
  • Because all my friends were his friends first, all saw what was happening, and I assumed all thought it was acceptable or would take his side.
  • Because the teacher who saw the scars on my body told me I should just be thankful for what I have and that it could be so much worse.
  • Because I loved his little sisters and didn’t want to lose them.
  • Because his mom treated me like a princess and I thought one day he’d learn from her.
  • Because I felt sorry for him that his dad did the same thing to him as a kid.
  • Because he had a way of making me feel like I was the best thing that ever happened to him and that if I left, I’d be ruining his life.
  • Because if this was how he treated me while we were together, how would he treat me if I left?
  • Because I didn’t realize how insane my relationship was until I’d walked away
  • Because I believed him when he said it was my fault
  • Because I honestly didn’t think I deserved better
  • Because I was willing to “be loved” at any cost at the time
  • Because I hoped and prayed things would go back to the way things were when we first entered a relationship
  • Because I thought “if I just did these things better, I’d be more deserving of better treatment”
  • Because I didn’t want to validate other opinions of me that I was a loser and couldn’t maintain a relationship
  • Because she would trap me in the house and sometimes hide my keys
  • Because I loved her and when you love someone, according to everything I knew then, you’re supposed to be forgiving and understanding and know that if something is going wrong, it’s somehow partially your fault
  • Because I was afraid of what it would be like to be alone again
  • Because it would have meant that I was admitting I was alone the whole time
  • Because if I’d just been a better, kinder, more loving and supportive wife he wouldn’t have been so anxious and so angry, and so he wouldn’t have abused me.
  • Because when being a submissive wife is wrapped up in your eternal salvation, you tend to choose a little hell on earth to forever in hell.
  • Because when someone is mentally and emotionally abusive and they wrap it up in a mental illness diagnosis and promises of therapy, you honestly start believing that leaving would just be mean.
  • Because obviously, I just wasn’t trying hard enough.
  • Because your/my mental faculties are/were failing due to the chronic stress, and you/I have/had no experience living on your/my own.
  • because I loved her.
  • because the good times were good.
  • because her jealous/possessive rage was her way of saying she needed Me.
  • because I don’t abandon someone I care for.
  • because nobody else would.
  • because PTSD and BPD weren’t her fault.
  • because I didn’t believe it’s better to be alone than in bad company.
  • Because he always told me i was nothing. No other man would ever want to touch me. He had to be high to fuck me. It was all my fault, everything, always.
  • Because it isn’t something that just happens overnight. He/she isn’t perfect one day and abusive the next. They slowly worm their way into your mind and destroy all that you are…. And the controlling behavior just seems like they’re protecting you from bad influences in your life….
  • Because it was my fault he hurt me. I had bothered him and knew it was coming.
  • Because I wasn’t good enough to please him and should have done better.
  • Because I didn’t say no to him sometimes, so he “couldn’t” have known I didn’t want to be touched that way.
  • Because I pulled back in fear.
  • Because I dressed prettily for him (of course he would want to touch me)
  • Because I ate too much… (104 lbs at the time)
  • Because I didn’t do the things I knew he wanted me to do.
  • Because I had talked back.
  • I didn’t believe in divorce and my word meant something to me.
  • Because I had allowed myself, under his deliberate guidance, to become completely dependent on him.
  • Because I was ashamed to admit that my judgment was so bad.
  • Because I’d be “kicking him when he was already down.”
  • Because when people judged him, I felt like they were judging me too, and I didn’t want to prove them right.
  • Because I was so deeply afraid of starting over in my middle age, I was practically paralyzed.
  • Because part of me still clung to some shreds of hope that we’d eventually get back to how things were in the beginning.
  • Because I had seen countless examples of other people who claimed abuse and were at best, just not believed. At worst, they were accuses of all sorts of wrongdoing themselves. And I wasn’t brave enough to risk it.
  • Because the very foundation of who I was before I met him had been drastically changed under his influence in the years we were together, and I no longer recognize myself as someone who still had the ability, or the right, to be okay on my own.
  • Because my bad relationship caused collateral damage for other people I loved, and staying unhappy with him was part of my penance for that.
  • Because he threatened to kill my family
  • Because I felt it was my fault that I got myself into it and didn’t want to burden others with my mistake.
  • Because I thought if one of my brothers ever found out they would do something and end up arrested (and he would be “the victim”)
  • Because no one will want a woman with three children.
  • Because no one would want someone as useless and ugly as me…..
  • Because I took vows saying I would love and honour until death do us part
  • Because it’s not abuse if s/he doesn’t hit you.
  • Because s/he was always right
  • Because it must be my fault s/he acts that way
  • Because it’s my fault s/he drinks so much
  • because I loved and cared about them
  • because I had no where else to go
  • because everyone has someone and I rarely do
  • because I got tired of being alone and unwanted
  • because nobody else would include me in ways they did
  • because I was use to being involved with long term relationships where people treated me like crap
  • Because leaving would have been betrayal.
  • Be he needed me.
  • Because all the welts and bruises were things I could explain away one episode at a time, and they didn’t hurt that badly anyway.
  • Because he always tried to make up for it at first, comforting me and convincing me it wouldn’t happen again… Until he knew I was stuck, and the apologies stopped.
  • Because he drugged me a lot, making me incapable of making wise decisions (and remembering some of the things he’d do to me)
  • Because he threatened to tell my parents about our daughter, knowing they would disown me if he did (not that it mattered, they ended up disowning me anyway
  • Because he threatened to kill me, my family, and our daughter if I left
  • Because I was afraid of his gang connections and felt that I would never be able to hide from him
  • Because he broke me down and screwed with my mind so bad that I thought I DESERVED the beatings. It got to the point that if he didn’t beat me everyday, I thought I had done something wrong
  • Because he never left visible bruises
  • Because when I did try to tell someone, they didn’t believe me, and when he found out, he beat me harder
  • Because I wanted him to love me for who I am and to be good enough for him.
  • Because I believed him when he would cry and apologise.
  • Because I wanted to be a good wife.
  • Because I meant every word when I said my vows.
  • Because I felt like I deserved it & must have been doing something wrong.
  • Because he manipulated me to be emotionally dependent on him.
  • Because he was breaking me down while making it seem like he was building me up.
  • Because I thought that if I just tried harder, things would be okay.
  • Because I felt guilty that my parents spent so much money on our wedding.
  • Because I thought that abuse could only be physical.
  • Because I didn’t want the shame & feeling like I’d failed if I got a divorce.
  • Because I didn’t feel good enough for him, let alone anyone else.
  • Because I thought things weren’t really that bad and I was just making it up in my head.
  • Because he was just sick and one of the treatments would work soon enough.
  • Because I was told that I was lucky to have found one person who would put up with me and I believed it.
  • Because he didn’t hit me and the rest I deserved.
  • Because he was the only support I had.
  • Because I wouldn’t be good enough to find someone else.
  • Because I was broken beyond repair and no one else would want me.
  • Because I should be lucky someone is willing to put up with me and my health issues.
  • Because I should consider myself lucky that anyone at all found me worthy.
  • Because he could have any other normal woman, with normal body parts and he’s putting up with my body.
  • Because he took “care” of me.
  • Because people like me are usually just forgotten. I should be grateful he paid me any attention at all.
  • Because I realized I could not help someone who did not want to get better.
  • Because he isolated me from my friends and family so he didn’t have to share my attention.
  • Because the vows said for better or worse until death do you part.
  • Because in a strange way it’s easier and less scary to stay then to leave….
  • Because I thought each time would be the last time.
  • Because she isolated me from everyone who meant something to me and made me feel like she was all I had, like she was the only one who cared about me.
  • Because I thought that no one else would want me. Because I thought it was better to stay because at least he wanted me.
  • Because he loved me. Because he didn’t realise how what he was doing was hurting me.
  • Because I thought I couldn’t get by without getting the things from him that I did want. Because he was my friend and confidant.
  • I stayed because I knew without me, he would fall.
  • Because that’s the only form of love I had felt and I thought that’s the way it was.
  • because that’s all i felt i was worth
  • because I hoped that “If i just loved her enough, she’d stop needing to hurt me”
  • I stayed out of fear of loneliness, and violence, but I’m looking for my strength just the same.
  • Why I stayed he threatened to take my daughter and brought in 500k a year so he could run off with her
  • Because I thought it was impossible for a small town Christian farmer to be an abuser . Now I realize that small towns not only have ears but they keep secrets too.
  • Because I thought it was impossible that a widower who was married and faithful for many years could be an abuser . Now I believe the stress may have killed her. She died of cancer at age 37.
  • Because no one will ever love me like he does.
  • Because now it is his turn to struggle, so, i owe him my attention, my help so that he can get better. And only then, will i walk away.
  • Because he always tried to make up for it at first, comforting me and convincing me it wouldn’t happen again… Until he knew I was stuck, and the apologies stopped.
  • Because he drugged me a lot, making me incapable of making wise decisions (and remembering some of the things he’d do to me)
  • Because he threatened to tell my parents about our daughter, knowing they would disown me if he did (not that it mattered, they ended up disowning me anyway
  • Because he threatened to kill me, my family, and our daughter if I left
  • Because I was afraid of his gang connections and felt that I would never be able to hide from him
  • Because he broke me down and screwed with my mind so bad that I thought I DESERVED the beatings. It got to the point that if he didn’t beat me everyday, I thought I had done something wrong
  • Because he never left visible bruises
  • Because when I did try to tell someone, they didn’t believe me, and when he found out, he beat me harder
  • because is he is not beating you or damaging your body, it could not possibly be abusive, and I believed that so strongly that I still feel ashamed even thinking I qualify to write under #whyIstayed
  • because I believed him when he insisted that him forgetting about my “no” within minutes was a “memory problem”
  • because I had left my whole life to be with the wonderful sweet guy he was * before I arrived in my new home country, and I believed some day I’d have that wonderful sweet guy back
  • because he cried for hours whenever I snapped at him over the non-consensual behavior
  • because going back to my home country within months of arriving in a foreign country felt like giving up
  • because I felt I had nowhere to go
  • Because I knew I’d be giving up a fairly stable financial situation for instability, homelessness, and years of struggling financially.
  • Because until I knew that I had tried everything to make it work, I would feel like a quitter for leaving. I have a big toolbox…it took far too long. And then my one year-old son hit me in the face. Just like Daddy.
  • I stayed because I knew my leaving would kill him… until I felt dead myself.
  • Because when you grow up with it, you expect it.
  • Because I wanted to be there for my daughter.
  • Because he was so broken, I thought if I stayed I could fix him.
  • Because I believed him when he said I wasn’t good enough to deserve more.
  • Because I thought if I tried harder – I could fix it.
  • Because I believed it was my fault.
  • Because I believed no one else would want me.
  • Because I really believed he would kill me if I left… even when I did leave – I had planned for it …
  • I stayed because I didn’t want to feel like I was abandoning her or our children, running away from a problem like a coward.
  • I stayed because I was told it was better to stay than to leave since we had a baby together
  • I stayed because he promised over and over again that he’d get the help he desperately needs
  • I stayed because I feared for our son’s life in those moments of anger when he made the threats on if we ever left
  • I stayed because I wanted to help him see what was happening to him
  • I stayed because I thought I could love him even when he threatened to harm us all
  • Because nobody ever filled the hollow in my maniquin soul like you. Because you knew exactly how to fill it. Because it was you who gutted me like a trophy buck on the first day of the hunting season.
  • Because he told me that after he beat the child out of me, I’d always be too broken to ever love…
  • because my mother taught me true love was measured by how much you will suffer for someone and what you will give up to be with them. Just like all the crappy teen romance movies.
  • because your brothers were not old enough to even know why they were being hit or choked & even with martial arts to show you how to take the hits, the blows are coming in something awful…it would be selfish to let someone weaker take those hits.
  • because no matter how much the woman spaz’s out or whether she tries to slap you, it’s the guys job to accept it like “a man” so long as he gets pussy more often than abusive language.
  • because you have buried too many friends before you were 16 and everytime someone says they can’t live without you, you just can’t bring yourself to call their bluff or if not bluffing, relive every one of the funerals you have been too, wondering if you could have saved them by doing something else or being a better person.
  • because the Twue Dominant’s job is to help their submissive & fix the submissive for them.
  • because she always has the best apologies & it could never happen again.
  • Because i thought he was a nice and wouldn’t hurt me.
  • Because of principles (she was pregnant at the time), I could not leave. Good guys finish last.
  • because it might make him happy
  • because I didn’t want to be a number in a statistic, just another minister’s marriage that ends in divorce. Until I realized that by staying, I was still just a number in a statistic – just another minister showing a brave face to the world while her world and heart were crumbling around her feet
  • Because I broke him.
  • Because I remember how he was
  • Because I want the real him back
  • Because depression and addiction are not his fault
  • Because I believe he really needs me.
  • Because I/You are too weak to stand on your own.
  • Because I/You don’t have limits, ’cause i make your limits.
  • Because I had no where to go but the streets
  • Because leaving would mean that I failed
  • Because he worshipped the ground I walked on when he wasn’t beating me
  • Because I promised I’d never give up on love
  • Because we were engaged
  • Because his family was amazing
  • Because he took me in when I was homeless
  • Because I thought I couldn’t do better
  • Because I thought that I deserved the abuse
  • Because he needed me
  • Because I thought leaving would be more embarrassing and shameful than staying
  • Because I could find a way to make it work
  • Because he never did anything to leave permanent marks
  • Because he would never escalate
  • Because if I didn’t admit to it happening then it didn’t happen
  • Because If I stayed a bit longer then things would get better
  • Because I didn’t know what else to do
  • Because if I left I would be stranded
  • Because i didn’t believe it had happened
  • Because he said he loved me
  • Because i felt it was something we could get over together
  • Because I loved him.
  • Because I thought he wouldn’t do it if I hadn’t given him a reason to.
  • Because he said he was sorry.
  • Because he promised he wouldn’t do it again.
  • Because when it was good it was amazing.
  • Because I would rather him abuse me than kill me.
  • Because I was afraid he would kill me if I tried to leave.
  • Because he knew how not to leave bruises.
  • Because I deserved it.
  • Because I was ashamed.
  • Because no one would believe the girlfriend with a mental illness.
  • Because I wasn’t worthy of love, respect and gentleness.
  • Because he found me 15 days after the loss of my child and I was incapable of seeing.
  • Because I was informed if I left he would kill me.
  • Because WE realized I was pregnant together.
  • Because “If you leave, my sister and I will take MY baby and you will never see him again, just like the last one.”
  • Because it was my fault, if I could just do what I was told.
  • Because alcoholism is a “disease”, so I should shut the fuck up and deal with it.
  • Because it wasn’t his fault, it was addictions fault for loving crack.
  • Because I’m fat, ugly, disgusting, worthless and stupid. Oops or was that beautiful, smart, sexy, and a great Mom.
  • Because he knew how to not leave marks, so who wuld ever believe a stupid cop calling whore like me.
  • Because I had noone.
  • Because I threw up my salad and he found out I was pregnant. Again.
  • Because of the 16 calls he made to protective services.
  • Because I thought I had to.
  • Because I couldn’t leave my boys with him.
  • Because I thought I was weak.
  • Because I was scared and filled with fear.
  • Because no matter what he would take me down.
  • Because I couldn’t think straight.
  • Because I couldn’t share my shame with the world.
  • Because he said “I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” and I really wanted to believe he means it this time.
  • Because I couldn’t understand that he would treat me so badly and still insist that he loved me. I heard it over and over. “I love you more than anyone.” I heard this after every time he hit me, choked me, lied about what he did to me, called me a whore, cheated on me, threw me to the floor, held me against my will, forced me to perform sexual acts I didn’t want to, rape me and told me he would take the children and I would never see them again.
  • because it was going to be better, someday.
  • Because she made me believe nobody else would ever want me.
  • Because she had to be right, everyone else was on her side.
  • Because she gave me enough affection for me to believe that she did love me and it would be okay.
  • Because she never physically hurt me.
  • Because it would get better if I was better.
  • Because everything was my fault.
  • Because I was young and in love and desperate to be loved back.
  • Because I didn’t ever think I was good enough for her, so I was lucky to be with her.
  • I stayed because he convinced me I didn’t deserve more.
  • I stayed because no one spoke up about how he verbally abused me in front of them, so I thought it was ‘okay’.
  • I stayed because I was afraid of being alone.
  • I stayed because he knew how to manipulate my emotions.
  • Because that door is more terrifying than his fists
  • I stayed because i was still young and blamed myself for the bruises around my neck.
  • I stayed because of vows i made.
  • I stayed because I made a commitment.
  • I stayed because I promised to love, honor and obey.
  • I stayed because I was convinced that no one else would want me.
  • I stayed because I didn’t understand my own deep dark desires a part of me loved the physical abuse.
  • I stayed because I wasn’t going to fail in yet another relationship…
  • I stayed because of fear….
  • I stayed because I loved him…
  • I stayed because he wasn’t hitting, this was better than my first…
  • I stayed because I didn’t love myself
  • Because he knew my moms house had bad locks, and he threatened to go “visit” my mom and my teenage sister if I left him.
  • Because I thought if I loved him enough, it would be enough for him to get clean.
  • Because everyone else in his life, including his biological mother, had abandoned him. And if I did too, then I never really -truly- cared for him after all.
  • Because he would be going to jail. Eventually. And I would really be free then.
  • Because who would want me after being with him?
  • Because he had his moments where he was the sweetest person.
  • Because I told him I wouldn’t leave him. And I keep my word.
  • Because he loved me. I was just screwing up a lot.
  • Because he really wanted to get clean. He just needed me to give him the motivation.
  • I stayed because of the belief that things would get better.
  • I stayed for the children we had together and my daughter who now called him daddy.
  • I stayed because I loved and wanted to help him.
  • I stayed because I saw his pain and couldn’t imagine giving him more.
  • I stayed because I was afraid, afraid of him killing himself or all of us, I was afraid of everything and most particularly of him
  • I stayed because I thought it was my fault and I thought I didn’t deserve better
  • I stayed because was it really rape if he’s my husband and anyway it was just because he loved and desired me so much…and that’s just how men are, right??
  • I stayed because I didn’t know how to tell anyone and after all everyone thought we were so perfect together, who would have believed me
  • I stayed because for 16 years I’d fought to make it work, I didn’t want to give up, I didn’t want to fail again
  • Because we he was our best friend.
  • Because we loved him.
  • Because the good times were great but the bad times were terrible.
  • Because he was possessive of us, we filled every nook and cranny within him. We were devoted to him.
  • Because we wanted a future with him.
  • Because he was beautiful and intelligent but no one saw that, only us.
  • Because we were embarrassed that the one man who completed us, was so damaged.
  • Because he said we were the most important people in the world to him.
  • Because everyone gave up on him.
  • Because we believed his apologies.
  • Because we wanted us.
  • Because I thought he was the one who could save me, little realising only I could save myself…
  • Because he needed me… And i needed, craved, being needed. Not realising ‘needing’ is not the same as ‘wanting’.
  • Because leaving them would mean I failed
  • Because If I wasn’t valuable enough to be treated right I wasn’t valuable enough to have my own life
  • Because I was embarassed , every one else’s relationships looked so together
  • Because so many people who were suppose to love me didn’t; I must be unlovable
  • Because my childhood taught me a woman’s value is measured by how pleasing she is to a man
  • Because I always seem to be the bad guy and its all my fault
  • Because I had no one else
  • Because no one saw the emotional abuse.
  • Because no one would believe the physical abuse since I’m taller and stronger than her.
  • Because she had cut me off from my friends.
  • Because if I was a good enough dom, she wouldn’t hurt me.
  • Because she apologized every time, and I believed her.
  • Because she told me “everyone leaves me” and I promised not to do that.
  • Because she threatened to kill herself if I left.
  • Because I loved her, and she said she loved me.
  • Because I wanted to be what they wanted me to be.
  • Because I loved too much to let go even when their reactions were emotionally crushing me…even as I did the same.
  • Because I had faith we could fix things.
  • Because I was afraid of talking about the reactions that made me recoil even as I desired closer contact.
  • Because I felt it was all my fault and should be trying harder.
  • Because I didn’t have eyes to see what was happening or how they made me feel until they were gone and I had to deal with the questions of why.
  • Because I didn’t realise I was tearing them down as much as they were tearing me down. And that is the hardest part to face.
  • Because he made me feel special when he paid attention to me.
  • Because I thought he knew me better than I knew myself.
  • Because he told me I was crazy.
  • Because I thought my friends just didn’t understand him the way I did.
  • Because he knew everything about me, and I very little about him.
  • Because he had broken me before, and said he’d been gentle those times.
  • Because he told me he wasn’t my past abuser, so stop being so afraid.
  • Because I loved him and feared him always.
  • Because I was always wrong.
  • Because I loved him with every part of me, and I thought he was the man I would marry.
  • Because I didn’t believe on giving up on someone I truly loved, no matter what.
  • Because he was getting psychiatric help, and I truly believed with that he could conquer his anger.
  • Because I didn’t believe anyone else would want someone as ill as I was, and put up with me, and he agreed with me.
  • Because the physical aspects of the abuse were uncommon, and I loved how we were when he was good to me.
  • Because I didn’t believe I could handle my OCD alone.

Let us raise our collective voices so that others may hear us… and join in bringing visibility and awareness to intimate partner violence. <3

What can YOU do for survivors of IPV?
The best thing to do is help the person in an abusive situation form a safety plan. We generally give wo/men 2 plans: one for staying and one for leaving. If they stay, how do they stay safe? Who do they call if things get bad? Do they know where their important documents are and do they have a bag packed so they can make a getaway if they need to? If they go, how do they stay safe? Where will they stay? What happens if the abuser gets violent, etc. most survivors will go back to an abuser at least once. It’s part if the cycle. And you have to have empathy for that person and never lose faith in the survivor.

Also, remember that the most dangerous and I unpredictable part of the DV cycle is when the survivor chooses to leave. Because that’s when the abuser will ratchet up the pressure to maintain control. So when you tell a person in a violent situation to leave you might be unwittingly conferring a death sentence. At best, you are denying them agency, which is a form of revictimization. Giving someone choices is painful and scary, but the most loving and supportive thing you can do.

For more information, please check out the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence.