2.3 Why Did She Stay? The Leaving Process and Media Messages about Love

Last season, one of the most popular episodes was the examination of why Wanda Gibson Maddux stayed in the violent relationship with Ronny. Similarly, I want to examine the same topic with Tracey because I know this is still puzzling to many people.

There have been many academic research studies about how targets of violence often undergo a leaving PROCESS rather than just leaving once or twice. The more times a target has left an abusive relationship, the more promising it is that the relationship will end.

While Tracey stayed for a while to try and work on their relationship, she also left multiple times and sought police protection to enforce her choice to leave.

We also consider the media messages that surrounded Tracey Thurman and the theme that true love changes people.  Can a seemingly positive message — that love is transformative — impact a target’s decision to stay in an abusive relationship?

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Resources in the US:

  • Need help? In the United States call 800.656.HOPE (4673) to be connected with a trained staff member from a sexual assault service provider in your area.

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2.3 Why Did She Stay? The Leaving Process and Media Messages about Love Final


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