This is the most commonly asked question of domestic
violence victims and survivors. The danger faced by a victim
usually increases significantly when they decide to leave.
Victims leave their partners an average of 7-10 times before
they are able to separate permanently. Some victims are
stalked by their ex-partners for years. Instead of asking "Why
do victims stay?" we should be asking "Why are their partner's
being abusive?" and "What more can we do as a community to
help them live in safety?"
The reasons that victims stay in abusive relationships are
- By leaving, victims may lose economic security and face
poverty and homelessness.
- Their family, friends, or church group may admonish and
even disown them for their decision to leave.
- Their children may be taken from them.
- Abusive partners may promise to go to counseling, change
their ways, and never hurt their partners again.
- Victims may face greater injury and even death at the
hands of their partner when they try to
People stay with abusive partners for many different
reasons. By understanding these reasons, you can explore your
options for living a violence-free life and avoid feelings of
guilt and isolation.
- You fear you will be beaten more severely. Your batterer
has threatened to find and kill or harm you, your children,
and your family.
- You depend on the batterer for shelter, food, and other
- You have no one to talk to who understands and believes
- You believe your children need two parents, and you
don't want to raise them alone.
- You want to keep the family together and live up to your
religious commitment to remain with your partner.
- You fear that you won't be able to take care of yourself
and your children alone.
- You want to stand by your partner and be loyal to the
- Your partner has threatened to commit suicide if you
- You believe that things will get better.
- You believe that no one else will love you.
- You fear your family and friends will be ashamed of
- You feel ashamed, embarrassed, and humiliated and don't
want anyone to know what is happening.
- You think others will believe that you are "low class"
or stupid for staying as long as you already have.
- You believe that you need to be in a relationship to
feel like a complete person.
- You fear that you will be deported or that your children
will be taken out of the country.
- If you are in a same sex relationship, you fear that you
will be "outed" or that no one will believe you.
- Your job is to make the relationship work, and if it
does not work, you are to blame.
- If you stay, you can "save" the batterer and help him or
her get better.