so usually i don’t bother writing about all the problems with glee, in large part because the problems are thoroughly covered by seemingly every other person on the entire internet. but this recent storyline with coach beast being hit by her husband and the reaction of the glee club girls and the other teachers has made me so upset that i am going to say something.
coach beast’s husband hit her. and the universal reaction from the other characters was “you have to leave immediately.” she tells them she’s left, but really she stays with him, and when they find out, they yell at her. they’re disappointed in her. they shame her. and they do it all in a way that suggests they know what’s best for her and her refusal to leave her abuser means that she thinks she deserves the abuse, that’s she’s not sufficiently empowered. and that their support for her as a domestic violence victim is contingent on her acting like they think she should, making the decisions they think she should.
this is bullshit. this is dangerous, unsafe bullshit. and teaching people to respond to friends or family who are experiencing domestic abuse with an unequivocal message of “you must leave immediately and i cannot support any other choice” is irresponsible, dangerous, unsafe bullshit.
first, leaving an abuser significantly ups the risk and severity of abuse. the greatest risk of domestic violence is at the time of leaving the abuser or immediately after, so demanding that a victim leave forces them into a more dangerous situation than they are currently in. abusers who have been emotionally abusive escalate to violence, violent abusers escalate into more significant violence or even murder. when victims leave abusers, they need to have detailed, comprehensive, and airtight safety plans to protect themselves from that escalation. it is not easy and it is not something you “just” do.
and that’s if the victim even has the option to leave, which isn’t a possibility for a lot of people. victims are often financially dependent on their abusers and have no means or resources to leave. most domestic violence shelters won’t accept male children over the age of 12 or 15, so lots of victims don’t have the option to leave with their children. lots of domestic violence shelters aren’t accessible to people with disabilities. victims without full immigration status can’t access the resources they would need to leave or be independent. some victims would lose their entire families and friend groups if they left. that’s just the beginning - there’s a boatload of reasons why a victim could be unable to leave. shaming them or abandoning support serves only to further isolate and attack them.
here’s what to do when you have a friend or family member who is experiencing domestic violence: SUPPORT THEM. whatever they need, give it to them, in terms of emotional support or resources. don’t judge the decisions they make. don’t tell them what to do. that just makes you part of the abuse, part of the problem.