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Why Do Victims Stay?

For someone who has never experienced domestic violence, the question of why a victim stays with an abusive partner can be very difficult to understand. There are many reasons why it might be hard to leave an abusive relationship. The following list are some (not all) of the reasons why victims stay.

  • Fear
    Abusers often threaten over and over that they will hurt the victim, their children, a pet, a family member/ friend or themselves. Abusers may even threaten to kill the victim or themselves if his/her partner leaves. A victim may stay in the relationship because they are scared of what the abuser will do if they leave.
  • Low self-esteem
    When an abuser calls their partner names, puts them down and plays mind games it can make the victim feel bad about themselves. Many times victims believe that the abuse is their fault or that they deserve the abuse.
  • Money
    Victims may depend on their abuser for financial support. Victims may not leave because they are scared that they will not have enough money to support themselves- a fear that often gets worse if they have children.
  • Children
    It is very common for a victim to stay with an abusive partner because they do not want to "break up" their family and are afraid that it might be hard on their children if they leave. Victims may be afraid that the abuser will take the children away or that they might hurt the children if s/he is not there to protect them.
  • Control
    Victims often think that they can control their partner's abusive behavior by doing exactly what s/he wants and by doing everything perfectly. But, victims have NO control over their partner's actions. The only people who can control the violence and the abuse are the abusers themselves.
  • Hope for change
    Abusers often promise that they will change and that the abuse will not happen again. Many victims want to believe this is true, and they hope that the abuse will end and things will get better.
  • Pressure from friends and family
    The friends and family of a victim may not be supportive. Victims may not be believed, told that the abuse is their fault or that all relationships have bad times and that s/he should try harder. Friends and family may also get angry because the victim stays with the abuser or has left and gone back to the abuser so many times. Plus, friends and family may be scared about their own safety-what will happen if the victim stays at my home, etc.
  • Doesn't know that help is out there
    Many abusers isolate their victim from her/his friends and family in order to gain more control. By the time the victim decides they want to leave, s/he may feel like they have no one to turn to and no where to go. Victims might not know what help is available to them in their community.

It is not easy to end an abusive relationship. It can be hard to let go of a person you love, memories and family.

Deciding to end an abusive relationship has risks. When a victim leaves the abusers loses his/her power and control-often increasing the danger for the victim. When a victim decides to leave, it can be safer if they get support. The Advocacy Center has Counselor/Advocates available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help victim learn about their options and plan for safety.


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