Why do Victims Stay?

“Why does she stay?” “Why doesn’t he just leave?” These are the most commonly asked questions from the family and friends of a Victim of Domestic Violence. The answers to these questions are as varied as the victims, and their stories. There are many reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships. Their reasoning/reasons are highly complex, and may be a combination of realities, compassion for the abuser, beliefs, fears and/or misconceptions.

Millions of Abuse Victims are physically, psychologically, verbally and/or sexually abused by Husbands, Wives, Boyfriends, Girlfriends, Family Members, Friends, Co-Workers and Bosses every minute of every day. Domestic violence attacks the core of the person – who they are, how they feel, how they think, and his/her value system.

Below is a short list of WHY a victim may stay with an abuser. Download an additional list of Barricades to Leaving here : Barricades to Leaving – Understanding the Whole Picture

Leaving may be impossible. During the abuse the abuser will not let the victim leave. The Abuser may block the door/gate and not let the victim leave. The Abuser may push the victim to the ground or away from the exit. They may not allow the victim to scream; they may even hold the victim’s mouth closed. They may threaten to kill the victim, children, or family members with a knife or gun (which they may be waving around) if the victim even thinks about leaving. If the victim tries to call someone for help, their phone may be ripped from their hands and either tossed out of reach or violently destroyed. So, it is not easy for a victim to leave in the midst of the abuse.

After the abuse occurs a victim may realistically fear that the abuser may become more violent and maybe even kill them or carry out their threats to kill others if they attempt to leave. Most battered Victims that do escape/leave will return several times before permanently separating from the abuser. Each time a Victim leaves he/she hopes the abuser will change. The Victim assumes that the Abuser will get some help to stop the violence and terror. The Abuser will apologize, beg and make many promises to convince the Victim to return. He/She will be overly kind, thoughtful and quite charming for a period of time, but will soon return to the same   Cycle Of Abuse.

Each time a Victim goes through the cycle he/she feels more foolish and shameful for falling for the Abusers’ charms and lies again. Each time they go through the cycle the Abuser feels more control and power from winning their Victim back. The abuse will continue to worsen as the Victim loses hope and the Abuser gains more power.

Download: Barricades to Leaving – Understanding the Whole Picture

The Victim may have a firm belief that stops them from leaving. The Victim may feel a duty to help/save the Abuser. The Victim may be a natural compassionate person who loves to help hurting people. If they are married their conscience may not allow them to leave due to the vows made before God in regards to making a commitment to remain in the relationship “in sickness and in health”.

A Victim may stop trying to leave if they are unsuccessful, repeatedly stopped and/or further threatened or abused. Or, he/she may stop trying to leave if they don’t receive support from medical, social service or law enforcement. The Victim may be unable to leave due to financial, transportation or storage issues. The Victim may also stop trying to leave when they begin to feel that family members no longer want them because every time they take them in they have returned to the abuser. Victim friends and family do not understand and eventually stop helping the Victim. He/She will then feel more shame along with abandonment. When partnered with isolation and the frustration that extended family members often express it is no wonder why many victims stay in abusive relationships, often for very long periods of time. The Victim will then lose hope in and no longer trust anyone to supply the emotional support she needs. This forces the Victim to become even more dependent on the abuser, who is ALWAYS there for them. The Abuser has now succeeded in alienating the Victim from friends and family. Read More: How to help an Abuse Victim

Strong emotional and psychological forces can keep the victim tied to the abuser. Sometimes realities like a lack of money keep the victim from leaving. The reasons for staying vary from one victim to the next, and they usually involve several factors.

Each time he/she leaves, they will gather more information and resources and learn more about the Abuser’s sickness. Eventually they will begin to learn about their own sickness of codependency. Once they have learned that the Abuser is highly unlikely to get better and how to combat their own codependency; only then will they leave.

Sadly, the statistics show that:

• Only 5% of Abusers will ever get better. Most are in a downward spiral and only get worse.
• Most Victims will leave and return an average of 9 times before leaving permanently.

It is important to Note: In the following studies the victim is referred to as “Her” or “She”, and the abuser as “He” or “Him”. This is due to the reality of greater statistics available in regards to female victims/male abusers; therefore, we may speak more in these terms. In fact, approximately 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women that were abused by men (Department of Justice figures). However, Abusers can be male or female. And Abuse Victims may be men, women and/or children. Peace Foundations will provide services for all victims.

Abuse is happening every second of the day in all communities and all places. Abuse may occur in the home, the workplace and even in public areas. The most important thing to remember is to never judge the abused. You do not know what threats or coercion methods are being used. Just Be There for the Abused…Freely offering Love, Kindness, Trust and Unconditional Support.

There are many reasons why a Victim might remain in an abusive relationship. Studies show that typically there are 10 major categories of reasons/reasoning behind why women stay in abusive relationships. Download: Barricades to Leaving – Understanding the Whole Picture

It is no wonder that these victims end up back with their abusers…

Peace Foundations will provide programs and services that will provide solutions to each of these barriers

Victims can be male or female. There are many men being abused by women. However, approximately 95% of the victims of domestic violence are women that were abused by men. (Department of Justice figures)

The most important thing to remember is to never judge the abused You do not know what threats or coercion methods are being used. Just Be There for the Abused…Freely offering Love, Kindness, Trust and Unconditional Support


Resources and Statistics


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