why do people stay in abusive relationships
Why DonÁt They Just Leave? People who have never been abused often wonder why a person wouldnÁt just leave an abusive relationship. They don t understand that leaving can be more complicated than it seems. Leaving is often the most dangerous time for a victim of abuse, because. When a victim leaves, they are taking control and threatening the abusive partner s power, which could cause the abusive partner to retaliate in very destructive ways. Aside from this danger, there are many reasons why peopleástay in abusive relationships. Here are just a few of the common ones:
Fear:á A person may be afraid of what will happen if they decide to leave the relationship. Believing Abuse is Normal:á A person may not know what a healthy relationship looks like, perhaps from growing up in an environment where abuse was common, and they may not recognize that their relationship is unhealthy. Fear of Being Outed:á If someone is in an LGBTQ relationship and has not yet come out to everyone, their partner may threaten to reveal this secret. Embarrassment or Shame:á It s often difficult for someone to admit that theyÁve been abused. They may feel theyÁve done something wrong by becoming involved with an abusive partner. They may also worry that their friends and family will judge them. Low Self-Esteem:á When an abusive partner constantly puts someone down and blames them for the abuse, it can be easy for the victim to believe those statements and think that the abuse is their fault. Love: So often, the victim feels love for their abusive partner. They may have children with them and want to maintain their family.
Abusive people can often be charming, especially at the beginning of a relationship, and the victim may hope that their partner will go back to being that person. They may only want the violence to stop, not for the relationship to end entirely. Cultural/Religious Reasons:á Traditional gender roles supported by someone s culture or religion may influence them to stay rather than end the relationship for fear of bringing shame upon their family. Language Barriers/Immigration Status:á If a person is undocumented, they may fear that reporting the abuse will affect their immigration status. Also, if their first language isnÁt English, it can be difficult to express the depth of their situation to others. Lack of Money/Resources:á is common, and a victim may be financially dependent on their abusive partner. Without money, access to resources or even a place to go, it can seem impossible for them to leave the relationship. á This feeling of helplessness can be especially strong if the person lives with their abusive partner. Disability:á When someone is physically dependent on their abusive partner, they can feel that their well-being is connected to the relationship. This dependency could heavily influence their decision to stay in an abusive relationship. ItÁs easy to adviseá someone who is in an abusive relationship, "You should just leave. "á After all, why would anyone stay with a person who them? Unfortunately, the decisioná isá nowhere near that simple, says David B. Wexler, PhD, author of When Good Men Behave Badly and executive director of the Relationship Training Institute in San Diego.
For one thing, taking offá puts an abused partner at risk. á ÁThereÁs a spike in abusive behavior when a victim tries to leave the,Á Wexler tells Health. ÁItÁs the single most dangerous time for the victim. Á Instead of judging a friend or loved one for not breaking things off, know that they are probablyá weighing many variables and figuring out the safest course of action. á Here, Wexler explains what a few of those variables can look like. RELATED: They re afraid their abuser will come after them As Wexler explained, leaving the relationshipá automatically puts an abused partner in an unsafe situation. á Would he me down? Attack me? Ruin my reputation? á These are the thoughts that typically race through a victim's mind as they contemplate ending things. Saysá Wexler:á ÁThe person may actually be making a calculated decision that the relationship is abusive, but if I leave it could get even worse. Á That's especially true if the victim doesn't have a safety plan in place, such as housing arrangements and a go bag of essentials. RELATED: They re worried about finances and family Financial dependence, a family who needs them, á to take care ofÁall of these can make splitting fromá an abusive partner feel impossible. ÁIf someone is financially dependent on their partnerÁs income, [they may worry about]á being able to supportá themselvesá if they leave,Á says Wexler. These practical issues are compounded when young children are involved, since leaving will create further hardshipá for their kids.
Sharing the responsibility of children is the most profound bonding experience ever, and breaking that bond can be a scary prospect, even if a victim shares the care with an abuser. á ÁThe prospect of breaking that bond becomes much more formidable,Á adds Wexler. RELATED: They re ashamed Wexler says he has never met with a victim who didnÁt feel some about the position she was in. That shame leaves an abuse victimá terrified of judgmentsá and accusationsá from outsiders. á ÁThe idea of letting other people know [about the abuse] and the possibility that they might pass judgmentÁ Why did you choose him? Why did you stay with him? What did you do to make him do this to you? Áis really scary,Á he explains. "Nobody wants that. "á RELATED: They still love their partner As anyone who has ever been in a tricky relationship knows, love is not logicalÁandá just because someone hurts youá doesnÁt necessarily make you hate them. ÁMany people who are in abusive relationships want the abuse to stop, but they still love the person,Á explains Wexler. ÁThey still feel emotional attachment and value a lot of aspects of the relationship; they just want the abuse to go away. Á If the abuser engages in both physical and psychological abuse, the relationship is nextá toá impossible to repair, says Wexler. But if they are able to take responsibility for their behavior, make determined efforts to change it, and show genuine empathy for the effectá theá behaviorá has had on their partner, recovery can be possible.
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