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Why doesn't she just leave?


Domestic violence always stands the chance of becoming lethal or physically damaging. Many victims of domestic violence have been crippled as a result, their faces have been physically altered from abuse, they’ve lost the ability to have children, they’ve lost their hearing, their children they did have, their pets, their friends and loved ones, their houses, their belongings, their confidence, their trust --- and all to often --- their lives.

Blaming the victim is the wrong approach, no matter how common the belief is. You must remember that no one deserves to be or enjoys being abused and that leaving a violent relationship is most often the most dangerous time for the victim. Batterers often feel very much out of control at this point and tend to retaliate and become more violent as a result. Statistically, this time is the most dangerous for victims:

  • Up to ¾ of domestic assaults reported to law enforcement agencies are inflicted after separation of the couples.
  • 75% of women who are killed as the result of a violent relationship are killed while trying to leave.
Victims of domestic do leave and seek help from an average of at least seven different resources at least three times each --- twenty one requests! But sometimes they do choose to stay or return to the relationship and there are many reasons why. Actually, there are as many reasons as to why women stay in abusive relationships as there are women who are in them, Some of those reasons as heard from actual victims are as follows:
  • she did not have anywhere to go
  • She did not have a way to get to safety
  • She feared that he would follow through with the threats he had been making toward her --- that he would harm or kill her if she tried to leave
  • She was and is embarrassed and didn’t want anyone to find out
  • She depended on him financially or for other reasons such as transportation or health care
  • He isolated her from everyone she knew or loved and had no one she trusted to rely on for help
  • She feared the legal system and law enforcement would not help or be able to protect her from him
  • She tried it before, he found her and she “paid for it”
  • Religious beliefs
  • She has children and could not support them without his income
  • She had never worked before because he would not let her and she therefore had no skills to fall back on to work to support herself and her children
  • She was fearful of losing custody of her children
  • She had no support from friends or family
  • There was a mix of good and bad times and she really loved him and hoped he would change like he always told her he would
The reasons are as endless as the number of domestic violence victims. Each story is unique and each reason is valid. Believe them. Support her. She needs your help.

Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships

Economic Dependency
The number one factor in staying in an abusive relationship is economic dependency. Abusers do not usually want or allow her to work outside the home. The majority of battered women do not have control or access to the family earnings, even if they do work. Status and the material possessions usually play a part in her staying, especially if children are involved.

Lack of Resources
Through forced or self-imposed isolation, women lose many of their survival skills and cannot integrate into the mainstream of work without training. They are very unfamiliar with the many systems and agencies, they must interact with such as; employment, legal, medical, financial, and housing.

Most of the time, the battered woman may not have a safe place to go, where she will not be hurt, or involve others and put them at risk also.

Many religions teach that divorce is not an option and the woman must submit to the man, even in violent situations.

Social Stigma
She may be too ashamed to tell anyone what is happening because she may feel she is the only one this is happening to. Also she may see it as her role and responsibility to keep the family together. Society has taught her to be a “good wife,” and dysfunction in the family is covertly viewed by others as the woman’s fault.

Many women may believe that even a bad father is better than no father at all. Also, the difficulty and responsibility of single parenthood can be overwhelming and frightening. They may not want to disrupt their children’s schoolwork, lifestyle and friendships.

Fear of the Unknown
Almost always, the fear of that which is unknown is greater than that which is known and familiar.

Attachment and Investment
The batterer is not always abusive and the love she has for him is reinforced by his good behavior and by hopes that he will change. She has a history with him of good as well as bad times and he may be the father of her children. She does not want to walk away from a serious commitment without a lot of thought and consideration.

The batterer may intimidate by threatening to kill her, kill her family or friends or kill himself. He may threaten to take her children away from her, tell everyone she is crazy or he may follow her everywhere and threaten to hunt her down if she leaves.

Lack of Self Esteem
The battered woman usually blames herself for the violence and feels if she had only reacted differently, it would not have happened. This belief leads her to be depressed and debilitated. She has little self-worth, and feels she can do nothing right and therefore could never make it on her own.

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