Why women stay in abusive relationshipsFear: The number one reason for not leaving is fear. Our fears are not unfounded given the fact that battered women are most at risk during leaving or after having left an abusive relationship. It is very important that our expression of fear not be minimized.

If a decision to leave has been made, a safety plan must be put in place if you have reason to be afraid for your life. Don’t take any chances if your partner threatened to kill you. When you’re dead.. you’re dead… that’s it.

Lack of Resources: Since one of the major components of abuse is isolation, we often lack a support system. Our family ties and friendships have been destroyed, leaving us psychologically and financially dependent on our abusive partner.

Lack of Finances and Economic Reality: The economic reality for women [particularly those with children] is often a bleak one. Perhaps economic dependence on the abuser is a very real reason for remaining in the relationship. Public assistance programs have been drastically reduced and those that remain provide inadequate benefits.

Children: Being a single parent is a strenuous experience under the best of circumstances, and for most women, conditions are often far from fair and just when it comes to receiving either equal custodial access or full custody of their children from the court system.

The enormous responsibility of raising children alone can be overwhelming. Often, our abuser may threaten to take the children away from us if we make attempts to leave.

Feelings of Guilt: Sometimes we may believe that our wife is “sick” and/or needs our help; the idea of leaving can thus produce feelings of guilt.

Promises of Reform: Our abuser promises it will never happen again; we want to believe this is true.

Sex-role Conditioning: Most men are still taught to be the protector and the family provider. To leave is to abandon them and therefore admit failure.

Religious Beliefs and Values: Religious beliefs reinforce the commitment to marriage. Many faiths hold that the husband is responsible for the welfare of his family. This may be a powerful reason for staying in a destructive relationship.

Societal Disbelief Concerning Battered Men: Many people turn a “deaf ear” to marital violence and believe that what goes on behind closed doors is a “private matter.”

The observance of a burglary, child abuse, or even cruelty to animals in the neighbourhood might quickly be reported; whereas, an assault on a husband or significant other may not and often is not reported.

Love for Spouse: Most people enter a relationship for love, and that emotion does not simply disappear easily or in the face of difficulty. After a battering, our abuser is often extremely penitent.

Because our self-esteem is so low following the incident, the apologies and promises of reform are often perceived as the end of the abuse.