Why don’t women leave abusive relationships?

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Why don't women leave abusive relationships?

Masrat Manzoor

Leaving a relationship , no matter how abusive, is never easy. Women who leave relationships often have to opt for living in poverty or in financially challenging circumstances. That’s a very difficult choice to make.

The Social, Cultural, Personal Factors

There are many social, cultural factors that contribute to encouraging women to stay and try and make the situation work. Often, violence is a familiar pattern for the woman, as well as the man.

In addition, women often love the men who abuse them, or at least love them initially. Men who batter are not 100 percent hateful. They can be loving and attentive partners at times.

Some women remain emotionally and/or economically dependent on the batterer despite the fact that she faces continued abuse if she stays with him. Women are at highest risk of injury or violence when they are separating from or divorcing a partner.

Women can be very intimidated by a partner and the consequences of her leaving. It takes a long time for a woman to give up hope in a relationship and to recognize that the only way she can be safe is to leave him.

Why It’s So Difficult To Leave

All too often the question “Why do people stay in abusive relationships?” is posed to survivors, implying that they are to blame for the abuse.

There are serious factors that weigh on the survivor’s decision to leave:

Leaving can be dangerous. Many people experiencing intimate partner violence realistically fear that their abusive partners’ actions will become more violent and even lethal if they attempt to leave. The abuser may have threatened to kill them or hurt their child, family member or pet if they leave.

What about the kids? Many survivors are not sure that leaving would be the best for their children.

Isolation is also a factor. The survivor’s friends and family may not know about the abuse, or may not support their leaving. Or the survivor may have no one to turn to, since isolation is a key dynamic of intimate partner violence.

Cycle of Violence and Hope for Change

Most abusive partners exhibit a behavioral pattern that has been described as a cycle of violence. The cycle of violence has three phases: the honeymoon phase (when everything in the relationship seems lovely), tension building, and violent incident. Many abusive partners become remorseful after inflicting violence, and promise that they will change (beginning the honeymoon phase again). This cycle makes it difficult to break free from an abusive partner.

Lack of Resources

The survivor may not have their own source of income due to financial abuse, or may not have access to alternate housing, cash or bank accounts.

Some women remain emotionally and/or economically dependent on the batterer despite the fact that she faces continued abuse if she stays with him. In addition, many survivors are not sure that leaving would be the best for their children.

 

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