A lot of people ask us the question: Why does she stay?
We believe this is the wrong question. The questions we should be asking are: Why do assailants terrorize and torture their partners? Why does the community allow battering to continue? Why do we scrutinize and evaluate the survivor? When we focus on her, we avoid looking at the behavior and intentions of the perpetrator.
However, it is important to understand that each victim of abuse will have his or her own reasons as to why they remain in a violent relationship. Here is a list of common reasons why some victims sometimes stay for varying periods of time:
Fear of the batterer’s violence:
A victim’s chances of being killed or seriously injured increase by 75% when leaving a violent relationship. (Please call us at 479-442-9811 for safety planning. We can help).
Immobilization by psychological and/or physical trauma:
Victims are often too injured or too frightened to tell or escape.
Connection to the perpetrator through children:
Some stay in the relationship because of their beliefs and for the sake of their children’s need for a father, or because of the abuser’s previous threats to flee with the children, to have the children taken away, or to harm them.
Belief in cultural, family, or religious values:
Support systems are not always supportive of a victim leaving the relationship or seeking help. Family or religious systems can actually pressure a victim into staying in the violent relationship.
Continual hope and belief that the violence will end or he will change:
Victims believe promises made by the batterer and want the violence to end, but not necessarily the relationship. Victims believe that they have the power to change the relationship for the better.
Belief batterer will commit suicide or engage in self-destructive behavior:
Many batterers threaten suicide or use any means necessary to place guilt and worry on the victim.
The number one reason stay is they stay is lack of funds:
It costs approximately $1500 to set up household in the first month without housing assistance. Public housing lists are long, sometimes over six months, and many do not quality.
Lack of real alternatives for employment and financial assistance:
Domestic violence is the number one cause of loss of employment to women in the United States. There are limited funds available to assist victims of domestic violence as they begin to live independently. Many victims of domestic violence also do not have transportation to enable them to secure employment. In addition, many victims of domestic violence have been prevented from working or gaining education; therefore, their options for self-sufficiency are often limited.
There are lots of reasons why a victim of abuse might stay – but there is never, ever a reason to abuse.