The Crescat has an excellent post on domestic violence, based on a tragic situation that erupted very close to her. She brings her own experience into the piece, which gives her a tremendous amount of ethos concerning such scenarios. That said, I will add two cents more.
There are certainly questions of shame, self-esteem, embarrassment, isolation and fear. There are the imagined reactions of neighbours, the family, and co-workers to consider, which often hold people bound. There is also the sheer vulnerability of being weak, poor, and confused -- a person with very limited options. All of these must be surmounted in order to escape. But then what?
I touch on this in my new book -- Set Free: The Authentic Catholic Woman's Guide to Forgiveness. The next step (after grief and the meltdown that are only natural) is forgiveness. A snippet:
[P]rudence will help a woman to distinguish when to remain in a hostile environment and when to leave, or when to bear with the unkindness of others and when she is becoming an enabler—which is hardly Christian. So consider the case of a bitter woman who is tied to an abusive partner by her low self-esteem and no options. In her trapped state, the daily injuries that naturally accrue spiral into one enormous ball of pain. The anger beneath the surface often flares up and borders on rage—so much so that they are both being crushed under the weight of sin.
When forgiveness becomes habitual, prudence can be relied upon, illuminating how to proceed even in the most delicate circumstances. Interestingly, it may become clear that it’s not necessarily the choice but the disposition of the one making the choice; therefore, two women with similar circumstances may each discern a different response, and the same choice made by two women may be an occasion of sin for one and a path to sainthood for the other. That is why, in the introduction to the book, I insisted that I don’t know what the right choice for another may be—and in pretending otherwise I could trample on the Holy Spirit, who does.
Unless one forgives, one will always lack prudential judgment. I know it is counter-intuitive, but it has been proven over and over -- and it is foundational to our faith. When the woman is freed from a situation like this, she must be helped to forgive or she will continue to wander in the darkness.
Prayers for the victims in Kat's story, and let's pray for the gift of enlightenment when we're close to frightening situations like that one.