This is not an uncommon question. It is often asked by those who have not experienced and do not understand the complexity of remaining in a abusive relationship. The truth of the matter is that many people who are in relationships where no abuse occurs do not immediately leave even when there is trouble in paradise, or they leave and then return, similar to men and women who are in abusive relationships. The answer as to why they remain in the abusive relationship is as complex and complicated as how they will break free from the relationship. Leaving the relationship is a process. Professionals who work with victims of abuse know that the most dangerous time is when the victim leaves because the abuser becomes more violent.
Victims of abuse may face several hurdles to leaving the relationship. This list is not exhaustive:
- Economic Dependence on their abuser/Lack of Work Experience/Lack of financial resources
- Fear for their safety or the safety of their children and/or other family members.
- Isolation — no support system.
- Beliefs about Family — the victim may believe that family should not share family secrets. Guilt about breaking up the family unit.
- Beliefs about Marriage — the victim may believe that separation or divorce is not permissible.
- Belief that the abuser will find and kill the victim.
- Society’s response against victims — legal system, religious systems, family systems, and community.
- Belief that the abuser will change.
- Attachment and love for the abuser.
- Fear of losing custody of their children.
- Lack of Information about community resources that advocate and support.