Why Do They Stay
Why Do Domestic Violence Victims Stay?
For someone who has never been abused, it is hard to understand why someone would accept to live with domestic violence.
The dynamics of being abused by an intimate partner are extremely complicated.
Many survivors remember the person they fell in love with (prior to the abuse beginning) and want to believe the abuse will end. Often, survivors don’t want the relationship to end; they only want the abuse to stop.
Abusers terrorize, threaten, and intimidate their partners. Statistically, the chances of the abuser severely injuring or murdering their partner significantly escalates when the partner is trying to leave the relationship.
Many survivors have few financial resources. The abuser may destroy the survivor’s credit history, maintains control of the household income, and/or causes the survivor’s job termination by harassing the survivor at work.
The abuser may physically isolate the survivor in the house by locking the survivor in a room, and may take the telephone when leaving so the survivor has little, if any, contact with anyone outside the home.
Although abuse is never the survivor’s fault, many survivors feel ashamed that someone is hurting them. Survivors may believe, “this doesn’t happen to people like me.”
FEAR OF THE UNKNOWN.
Will the abuser continue to stalk and terrorize me after I leave? Will I be alone the rest of my life? Will the children and I end up homeless? Will people believe me or blame me when I seek help?
IMPACT OF ONGOING ABUSE.
The survivor’s sense of self has likely been damaged by ongoing abuse. Their identity may be entirely enmeshed in the abuser’s identity due to isolation and ongoing verbal and/or physical abuse. They may start to believe the abuse is their fault or that they’re an inherently bad person.
ABUSER IS RESPECTED COMMUNITY MEMBER.
The abuser may be a community leader such as a religious leader, a high-ranking law enforcement officer, a doctor, or a well-known politician. Often, abusers are charming, witty people that most people think are “great people.”
Regional Research Institute, Portland State University, 1600 SW 4th, Suite 900, Portland, OR 97207.