Leaving – the logical, impossible option

a hand wrapped in a tartan frock c. my fabulous tartan frock
How do you “just leave”?

Last year I was very proud to co-write and direct a piece of theatre called My Fabulous Tartan Frock, which was performed as part of the 2009 16 Days Campaign. It was developed with, and performed by, women from across Glasgow who had experienced domestic abuse, either directly or indirectly. The show was an attempt to speak honestly about the horror suffered by so many individuals at the hands of their lover but also, importantly, it sought to explore how strong and resilient these women are and highlight their inspiring instinct to survive.

Why don’t you just leave?

A common experience that emerged from the project was that almost every woman we spoke to had, at some stage, been asked the question “why don’t you just leave?” This question, on the surface, seems utterly logical. But it reveals an ignorance regarding the practical, emotional and social obstacles that make “just leaving” one of the hardest things imaginable.

Women who are abused are slowly and cruelly worn down psychologically by their partner and in this frame of mind they are expected to have the energy and strength to leave – it is they, not their abuser, who has to negotiate through police procedures, social service provision, housing issues – it is these women who have to take responsibility for the situation.

An almost impossible challenge for women seeking asylum

It seems to me that tackling these obstacles is hard enough to overcome as they are – but it must become almost impossible when you are already isolated from mainstream society, when English is not your first language, when your asylum claim is tied in with your violent partner or when you fear that all support services might be as aggressive and as suspicious of you as the UK Immigration System.

How do you “just leave”?

Unfortunately, theatre cannot answer this question. But what it, and the rest of the arts world can do, is open up people’s eyes to what these women go through. It can present a world where other realities are possible and show the audience that this global issue is everybody’s issue. It is a platform upon which we can stand and ask that we all take responsibility for putting a stop to the abuse and injustice faced by so many women.

Find out more about a moment’s peace theatre group on their website

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(1) Comments

  • Anne-Marie
    08 December 2010, 17:01

    I have observed some men being very abusive towards their partners and the shame that is in the womens eyes is just too difficult to watch. I wanted to help but couldn't. If I had told the men off would the women have suffered even more because of my comments? How can we reach out and show a hand of support and friendship to women that don't understand what I'm saying..all I could offer was a smile to the woman while her partner wasn't looking..Deep down I hope she knew that I cared....

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