A new United Nations study has found that the 58 percent of women who were murdered last year were killed by either intimate partners or family members — typically after a long-term period of gender-related domestic violence. In the U.S., an estimated one in four women have been subjected to severe physical abuse — worldwide, an average of 137 women are murdered by a partner or family member every day. Speaking with CBS News correspondent Alex Wagner, five domestic violence victims — bestselling author Leslie Morgan Steiner, non-profit president Lovern Gordon, former Bernie Sanders’ deputy campaign manager Rania Batrice, U.N. worker Lisa Hurley, and municipal judge Judy Freeman Chambers — sat down for a candid interview in which they spoke about the psychological and practical factors surrounding domestic abuse.
“If you had asked me if I was a battered wife, I would’ve said, “No, I’m not. I’m a strong, smart, independent woman who’s in love with a troubled man,” Steiner told Wagner, explaining that she had still loved her then-husband despite the fact that he beat her and threatened her with loaded guns on a regular basis. “I became increasingly ashamed that I loved him and that my love was making me vulnerable and making me go back again and again. And it wasn’t until I became really convinced that he was going to kill me that I was able to leave.”
Asked by Wagner whether she thought her husband’s death threats had been serious, Steiner responded without hesitation.
“Oh, he would have killed me,” she said. “There was no doubt.”
For Lisa Hurley, the abuse wasn’t just physical or psychological but also financial. Her partner, she said, would take her credit cards so that she would have to call him if she needed to use money.
“It just became a point where it was like he owned me,” she said. “I really felt that he believed … [I was] his property.”
Rania Batrice said that working in a political “predominantly male environment where I was constantly fighting for my seat at the table” left her “terrified that someone would find out” that her husband abused her. She kept the beatings she suffered a secret out of fear that the discovery would make her seem weak and compromise her in a career path where she was already “constantly fighting to be respected.” Adding to the confusion, she said, was the way her partner would hug her and comfort her just moments after he finished harming her — a theme that resonated with the other assembled victims as well. She said a friend whom she considers a sister confronted her one day about the bruises on Batrice’s body and said, “I know what’s happening and he’s never going to touch you again.”
Others featured in the interview talked about a similar experience and the psychological hold that can be challenging to break free from. “The person who damages you,” said Steiner,” is also healing you.”
With a recent uptick in awareness of sexual abuse that has come with the #MeToo movement, all five women expressed the hope that more women speaking out would mean fewer women having to endure domestic violence and abuse.
“Journalists are listening, the media is listening, police officers, the courts, law,” said Steiner. “It’s not going to change overnight, but I am tremendously optimistic.”
Watch CBS News’ interview with the five women below.
Read the full story at CBS News.