Those who never experienced domestic violence may ask why a survivor would choose to stay in a violent relationship. 

Understanding that leaving is difficult is key. There are many complicated elements that lead survivors to stay or deter them from leaving. For example, they would need to leave the place they call home, likely lose financial income and/or employment, they may need to find child care or transfer the children to a different school, and lose health insurance benefits. Also, survivors may be required to file legal documents (Divorce, Custody Forms, and Protection Orders).

The following list is some reasons survivors may stay in violent relationships:

  • Economic dependency
  • Parenting 
  • Religious or extended family pressures
  • Feeling responsible to hold the family together
  • Fear of being alone
  • Denial (Abuse is not that bad, “My partner only slapped me!”)
  • LOVE (Partner is lovable when partner’s not being abusive)
  • Guilt and shame
  • Survival/Fear (Partner will find/follow me)
  • Childhood (Boys are twice as likely to abuse partner and children; Girls are more likely to be helpless to the abuse as teens and adults)
  • Isolation (Often an abuser isolates the survivor. Then, the survivor has no one to turn to and may not know that services are available)