When domestic violence of any form is taking place in a home, it’s in the victim’s best interest to get out and seek help if they feel that it is safe to do so.
Unfortunately, that’s not the case for every victim in every situation.
There are times when the abuser has manipulated and threatened the victim enough, to where they feel isolated and trapped.
The victim is left fearing for not only their lives, but the lives of their children, their pets, or financial wellbeing.
To an outsider, most don’t understand the victim’s situation and their thought process, wondering why they just don’t leave their abuser.
From the outside, it may look like the obvious and logical solution, but to the victim, it’s much more complex than that.
Here’s why many domestic violence victims don’t leave.
Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave?
There is a huge list of reasons as to why a victim might not be willing to leave their abuser. For starters, some victims know and are aware of what their abuser is capable of, and any thought of escaping abuse is more like a death sentence.
They may have also been threatened by their abuser to never leave or something horrible may happen.
It’s this gripping fear that keeps a victim from escaping abuse and their domestic violence situation. They may be afraid that their abuser will further try and hurt or kill them, or their children may possibly be hurt or killed.
Victims worry about the wellbeing of their pets, the custody of their children, suffering financial ruin, and so on. Let’s take a look at some of those other reasons why women stay in abusive relationships.
Why Do Women Stay in Abusive Relationships?
There are other invisible barriers that keep women of domestic violence from leaving their abusive situations. Here are a few of them.
- There is a real fear that the abuser will use violence that is lethal if the victim decides to leave.
- Some women simply have family members or friends that don’t support their decision.
- Women may look to the hardships of single parenting and the financial strain that can take place, which is another setback.
- At times, victims may be uneducated and unaware of the help and support that they could be getting.
- The victim may experience a confusion of emotions because of good memories mixed with bad ones with the abusive individual.
- There is also the fear of their children being hurt or killed by the abuser, or that they might lose custody of their children.
- If the victim doesn’t have any way of taking care of themselves, whether it’s with a job, cash tucked away, a bank account, or assets.
- Some victims feel that they have nowhere to turn to in order to find help.
- Due to their beliefs or religion, they may feel that they can divorce their spouse.
- Afraid that they and their children could end up homeless.
- There might also be the false assumption that a household with two parents is better than one, even if domestic violence is present.
Society has Created Barriers
Victims not only have to deal with their own demons that they are battling in their heads but also ones that society has placed in front of them as well after they have decided to leave their abusers.
- Victims also battle with the idea of being charged with desertion, joint assets, or losing their children in a custody case.
- There may be a lot of anxiety about the poor living conditions that they and their children may be facing after a separation.
- Certain religious counselors or clergymen may tell them to try and save the marriage, instead of focusing on helping the victim get away from the violence. Some will even reinforce that divorce is forbidden.
- Sometimes violence is mistaken for a domestic dispute by police officers, and not enough happens to prevent it from happening again. There are instances when the victim is arrested by the police when they were only trying to protect themselves against their abuser.
- Society has played a role in making it clear that women’s identity and self-worth should be based on if they stay with a man.
- Even with a restraining order in place, there isn’t much that stops the abuse from happening again.
- The victim often rationalizes the abuser’s behavior by blaming it on stress from work, unemployment, drugs or alcohol and several other factors.
- Victims oftentimes feel isolated, with nowhere and no one to turn to that would understand. This isolation can be created by the possessiveness of the abuser, or it can happen because the victim is afraid, embarrassed that someone would find out about it.
- There have been definite strides over the past several decades to provide shelter for victims of domestic abuse, but there are still not enough of them and other programs to meet the growing need.
Leaving Domestic Violence
Just because a victim has gotten away from their abuser, doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t continue to use extreme caution. While the abuse may appear to be over, the other person may have different plans.
When a victim finally makes the decision to leave, that period of time during and after can actually be more dangerous than the abuse itself. It can even turn deadly.
One particular study found that men who were guilty of murdering their wives, did so because their wives threatened to leave them, or the actual event of separation that preceded the murder.
Everything mentioned prior to this was not said in order to scare or deter you, especially if you happen to be a victim of domestic violence.
It’s crucial that you get away from your abuser, but we also want you to realize the seriousness of your situation once you’ve decided to take that step.
If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic abuse, get the help that you need.
Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) for those who have difficulty hearing.