DV Conference Report #18: Salma Hayek Has Interesting Story about What Makes Women Stay in Abusive Relationships

Sacramento, CA–Background: The historic, one-of-a-kind conference “From Ideology to Inclusion: Evidence-Based Policy and Intervention in Domestic Violence” was held in Sacramento, California February 15-16 and was a major success. The conference was sponsored by the California Alliance for Families and Children and featured leading domestic violence authorities from around the world.

Many of these researchers are part of the National Family Violence Legislative Resource Center, which is challenging the domestic violence establishment’s stranglehold on the issue. The NFVLRC promotes gender-natural, research-based DV policies.

I have been and will continue to detail the conference and some of the research that was presented there in this blog–to learn more, click here.

During the conference, Dr. Jennifer Langhinrichsen-Rohling of the University of South Alabama explained that many women who stay with their batterers or abusers are not staying out of fear or because of their kids. “Love has a lot to do with it,” she said.

I thought this was an interesting quote at the time, and today I saw a story which brings Langhinrichsen-Rohling’s assertion to life. From the article Salma Hayek’s Domestic Violence Experience:

“Salma Hayek (pictured) leaped at the chance to support a domestic violence campaign, after witnessing abuse as a child. Hayek was shocked to see her father attacked after he had tried to intervene in a fight in the streets between a husband and wife.

“The 5’4” actress – who is spokesmodel for a new V-Day campaign – tells Glamour magazine, ‘The first time I saw domestic violence firsthand was when I was in Mexico, taking a walk with my family, and we came upon a man beating up this woman.’

“My father intervened and fought the man and won. I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, my father is a hero.’ Then the woman turned around and started beating up my father.

“I couldn’t comprehend what was happening. After that I became very intrigued with what makes a woman stay in an abusive relationship. How does her spirit break?”

I’m not sure if a “broken spirit” is the proper explanation. Langhinrichsen-Rohling explained that during her research she had wondered why some of the women were leaving a battered women’s shelter in less than a week. The answer, she said, is that they too were engaging in violence against their partners, and in some cases had left to pick up the battle again. Jennifer explained, “We weren’t helping these women because we were ignoring their paradigm.”

Since the woman in Hayek’s story promptly began beating up Hayek’s father, it seems plausible that the woman Hayek’s father tried to save was not exactly a victim, but instead a woman in a mutually abusive relationship. That does not, of course, excuse her husband for his abuse of his wife and his use of his superior strength against her.

Langhinrichsen-Rohling specializes in Juvenile, Family, and Intimate Partner Violence. Her email address is

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