UNDERSTANDING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE

Why do they stay? There are many reasons why it may be difficult to end a relationship with an abusive partner. The choices victims are faced with are not risk-free. Leaving
is not always the safest or best option. The real question should be: “Why doesn’t the abuser just stop being abusive?” 

Risks of Getting Help or Deciding to Leave 

Risks of Physical Violence and Psychological Harm 

  • Increasing threats and violence, resulting in harm to victim, children, friends, family, or pets; 
  • Continued harassment, stalking, and verbal and emotional attacks, especially if the abuser has ongoing contact (such as during court ordered visitation); 
  • Serious physical harm and/or death; suicide threats; and 
  • Rape or sexual abuse. Risks to Children 
  • Emotional, physical, or sexual abuse; possibility of increased risks to children if the abuser has unsupervised or poorly supervised visitation; 
  • Concern about children being kidnapped by the abuser. (Be aware, if you flee with your children to protect them, the legal system may consider you to be breaking the law.); and 
  • Negative impact on children as a result of “breaking up the family.” Risks to Relationship 
  • Losing your partner, losing the relationships with partner’s family and friends; 
  • Losing help with children, transportation, household; and 
  • Losing your caretaker (for older people or people with disabilities). Risks to Relationships with Family, Friends, and Community 
  • Receiving negative responses from friends, family members, and helping professionals; 
  • Not being believed or taken seriously, being blamed, being pressured to take actions that don’t feel right; 
  • Being judged as a bad spouse, partner, or parent;
  • Worrying that people will feel uncomfortable about “taking sides” or not wanting to get involved;
  • Worrying about being a burden to friends and family by asking them for help; 
  • Being pressured to stay in the relationship because of religious and/or cultural beliefs or because the children “need a father”; 
  • Worrying that actions of people trying to help may actually make the situation more dangerous; and 
  • Losing custody of children, and/or having to share unsupervised visitation with the abuser. Risks to Finances 
  • Concern about being able to pay legal fees;
  • Reduced standard of living – possible loss of home, possessions, or community;
  • Loss of income or job – possible loss of partner’s income, may have to quit a job to relocate or to take care of the children alone, may be fired from jobs because of threats and harassment; and 
  • Damage to the victim’s credit, withdrawal of funds from shared accounts, maxing out credit cards. 

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