Leaving situations of domestic abuse is not easy. In fact, at times it is near impossible. It is important not to judge yourself or a loved one for not leaving an abusive relationship, as on average it takes seven times before an individual can stay away from a relationship that contains domestic abuse. It is important that a victim of domestic abuse is vigilant while planning to leave, as this can be the most dangerous time of the relationship. If you or someone you love is trying to leave a situation of domestic abuse, but struggling, the following may help you better understand some of the possible reasons why you or your loved one stay.

  1. Sometimes people stay in abusive relationships for Safety Reasons

One of the main reasons that a person may struggle to leave an abusive relationship is for fear of safety. The victim may be afraid of what the abuser will do once they have found out that the victim has left, be scared that the abuser will carry out a threat such as harming of killing a loved one or the victim themselves, or in some cases be scared that the abuser will carry out a threat to commit suicide if they leave. It is also common for a victim to be scared that they won’t be able to look after themselves or their children adequately if they leave. In some cases it may just seem safer to stay, if it means that the victim is able to predict a violent attack and take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their children.

  1. Feeling isolated

Often in situations of domestic abuse the abuser will isolate the victim from family and friends, so that when they feel they want to leave they have no where to go. There is also the fear of being alone once leaving, and that no one will help the victim or fully understand their situation. Lastly, some victims are also scared that they will be rejected by family and friends if they leave the relationship.

  1. Belief that the abusive partner will change

Many victims are in denial and believe that their partner will change, and that things will get better. At times, the victim believes that no one else will love them, especially when their self-esteem is low due to the abuse.

  1. Pressure from family to stay in the relationship.

Pressure from family to stay in the abusive relationship, can be both from extended family, but also beliefs about raising children. A parent may be fearful of leaving a situation of domestic abuse because they believe that a child should be raised by two parents, or that they cannot give their children the same lifestyle that they are accustomed to, or they are scared that should they leave their children may be taken away from them by child services. Extended family may have religious or cultural beliefs about the relationship and so tell the victim to try and make the relationship work. Moreover, the victim may feel ashamed and may not want to feel judged by their family for the domestic abuse.

There are a plethora of other reasons why an individual may stay in an abusive relationship including, but not limited to, financial, religious and legal reasons. What is important is that victims are supported and know that there is help out there to assist them in leaving, and that no one deserves to be abused.

If you are in an abusive relationship you may need to talk to a psychologist/therapist/counsellor. Contact Louw Alberts for help if you are in the Centurion or Pretoria area.