Women stay in abusive relationships for many reasons. They do not stay because they “want to be abused”.
A battered woman may believe:
- His violence is temporary.
- With loyalty and love, she can make him change.
- His promises that it will “never happen again”.
- It’s her responsibility to keep the fgamily together.
- There will be more good times.
She may tell herself:
- He’s had a hard life.
- He needs me.
- All men are violent; it is to be expected.
She may deny or minimize the violence. She may believe her abuser when he tells her that his abuse is “her fault”.
Fear is a major factor. Many women believe their abusers’ threats. She believes he will kill her if she leaves him. She may fear:
- More severe abuse.
- Retaliation if he finds her.
- Destruction of her belongings or home.
- Harm to her job or reputation.
- Charging her with a crime.
- Harming children, pets, family or friends.
- His committing suicide.
- Court or police involvement.
- Few job skills.
- Limited education or work experience.
- Limited cash.
- No access to bank account.
- Fear of poverty.
Pressure from community of faith/family.
- Family expectation to stay in marriage “at any cost”.
- Family denial of the violence.
- Family blame her for the violence.
- Relition may disapprove of divorce.
- Religious leader may tell her to “stay and pray”.
- Guilt about failure of the relationship.
- Guilt about choosing an abuser.
- Feelings of personal incompetence.
- Concern about independence.
Concern for Children
- Abuser may charge her with “kidnapping” or sue for custody.
- Abuser may abduct or abuse the children.
- Questions whether she can care for and support children on her own.
- Fears losing custody of her children
- Believes children need a father
Lack of community support
- Unaware of services available to battered women.
- Lack of adequate child care.
- Few jobs.
- Negative experiences with service providers.
- Lack of affordable housing.
- Isolated from community services.
- No support from family and friends.
Will it get better?
Studies show that over time, without intervention, abuse in the home gets more frequent and more violent.