Now isn’t that a tricky question? I mean, what sane person would continue to be with someone who abuses them?
If you have never been in an abusive relationship, this seems like the simple answer. But then again, shouldn’t the question be, “Why does the other person have the right to abuse?”
There are many reasons a person stays. They are as varied and complex as the people involved. Here are some of the reasons:
1. Love: The abuser is still the person the victim loves. The abuser has times when he/she is VERY charming. One victim stated “I kept thinking that this time when things were good, surely he would like our life together in this good time so much that he would not want to bring on the bad times again. He promised me he would change.” Maybe the abuser will change…at least that’s the victim’s hope.
2. Society/Religion : The victim feels she/he made a committment before God to this relationship. Or the abusive person appears so different to the outside world that the victim feels no one would believe the monster the abuser can be.
3. Isolation: Gradually, the abuser takes steps to keep the victim from other people. Maybe the victim can’t have anything to do with family or friends, isn’t allowed to work or attend activities, or can’t have telephone conversations. There have even been instances of victims being imprisoned in their own homes.
4. Fear: Fear of retaliation if he/she leaves. Threats may have been made against the victim, children, or the victim’s family and friends. Victims have a 75% greater risk of being murdered by their partner during or after they leave the relationship.
5. Financial Limitations: The victim may have limited financial resources…no job, low-paying work, fear of homelessness, etc.
6. Fear of Losing Children: The victim may have been led to believe she/he won’t be able to keep their children.
7. Pets: The victim may not be able to take a pet they love. She/he doesn’t want to leave the pet alone with the abuser, in fear of the pet then being abused.
8. Lack of Self Esteem People with self-esteem issues may feel they don’t have what it takes to make it on their own. They may feel they deserve what happens to them. They may have been told by the abuser that no one else would ever want them.
As you can see, the reasons are varied. It’s difficult for many people to leave the perceived safety of what they know for the unknown. Victims don’t need to be re-victimized by those who think they should just leave. We need to build each other up, not tear each other down.