What Keeps Victims in Abusive Relationships
The following list is far from comprehensive. There are many combinations of factors that prevent victims from leaving their abusers.
- Economic dependence.
- She may become homeless if she leaves.
- Fear of increased danger if she leaves. Fear the abuser will hurt the children.
- Fear of losing custody of the children.
- Abuser has isolated victim from family and friends, and victim feels they have nowhere else to go.
- Fear of the unknown.
- The victim may not recognize the abuse due to a long history of violence.
- Negative responses from community, police, social workers, courts, etc.
- Fear no one will believe the victim’s story.
- Unable to use resources because of how they are provided (language barriers, disability, homophobia, gender specific services, etc.)
- Low self-esteem and total lack of belief in self.
- Abuser threatens to commit suicide if the victim leaves. The abuser may also threaten to kill the victim, the children or another family member.
- Denial or minimization of the abuse.
- Love. Violent outbursts are often followed by periods of affection and promises of change.
- Feelings of shame and humiliation in front of family, friends and the community.
- Exhaustion from the energy needed to survive in an abusive environment.
- The belief that children need both a father and a mother.
- Victim believes a partner is essential to her/his identity.
- Religious and familial pressure to “keep the family together.”
- Other religious or cultural beliefs.