What Are the Dangers?
Why does she stay? This question is asked repeatedly and by asking it, we hold the victim responsible for the problem, when the responsibility rests squarely with the abuser. A more appropriate question would be “why does this person abuse their partner”? Still there are innumerable reasons for a woman to remain in an abusive relationship. Abusers don’t just let their partners leave, and they will use violence and other tactics to stay in control of the relationship.
The reasons for staying in a violent relationship are many and vary from person to person. They may include:
- Fear of the abuser’s violence
- The risk of being killed when leaving.
- Believes she is unworthy of better treatment.
- Fear that protective orders and/or the criminal justice system will not protect her.
- Lack of economic resources with which to support herself and her children.
- Does not want to separate children from their father.
- Being told by family and friends that she can stop the abuse if she changes.
- Threats of suicide by the abuser.
- Threats of violence to others she cares about by the abuser.
- Dependent on abuser for healthcare.
- Lack of decent affordable housing.
- Lack of affordable legal assistance to obtain a divorce, custody/visitation plan.
- Lack of faith in the systems designed to help victims.
- Inability to speak or understand English very well.
- Lack of access to resources due to physical isolation or economic reasons.
75% of women killed by partners or ex-partners are murdered while they are attempting to leave or have left a violent relationship. One theory is abusers see their partner’s efforts to leave as the ultimate refusal to be controlled. Killing her is the only way to exert that control. Leaving an abusive relationship can be dangerous.