It can be devastating to see a loved one in an unsafe relationship. It can also be difficult for an outsider to understand why a victim of domestic and family violence doesn’t leave the relationship.
Abusive relationships can be complicated – especially if kids are involved. It’s not always safe for a victim to leave their abuser.
In fact, the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic abuse is right after they’ve left their abuser. They can put themselves and their children at serious risk.
It can take a lot of time, planning, support, and courage for someone to escape an abusive relationship. And even if someone does choose to leave, there’s a chance they may return.
On average, it takes someone seven attempts to leave an abusive relationship before they get out for good.
It’s important to keep this in mind if you’re upset with yourself for returning, or if you’re becoming frustrated with the ‘back and forth’ of someone you know who is living with abuse. With continued patience and support, the victim may grow more confident in their decision to leave.
There are many reasons why someone might stay in an abusive relationship, such as:
- They may be embarrassed or ashamed to tell friends/family about the abuse
- They and their children may depend on their partner financially
- They may have a disability and depend on their partner physically
- They may be afraid of coping on their own
- They may blame themselves for the abuse
- They may have damaged self-worth and think they deserve the abuse
- They may have grown up witnessing abuse and thinking it’s normal
- They may have emotional ties to the abuser and hope the abuser will change
- They may be worried about where they and their kids will live
- They may not know their legal rights
- They may be worried about child custody arrangements
- They may want their children to grow up with both parents
- They may be receiving pressure from their family or community to stay in the relationship
- They may not know about the available support and resources that can help
- They may be afraid their abuser will become violent toward them, their kids or their pets if they try to leave.
These are just some of the reasons someone might stay in an abusive relationship. It’s important to remember that it’s not always safe for someone to leave their abuser.
If you know someone living with domestic violence, avoid passing judgement or pressuring them to leave. You can provide support by letting them know you’re there for them, checking in on them regularly, and offering a safe place for them to stay if they do choose to leave.
Discover more ways to help someone living with domestic and family violence in this blog post.
Where to Get Support
If you or someone you know is living with domestic and family violence, help is available. You can call us on 1300 364 277 for guidance finding the right support for you, or learn about our Domestic and Family Violence Prevention service here.
1800RESPECT: 1800 737 732
DVConnect Womensline: 1800 811 811
DVConnect Mensline: 1800 600 636
Sexual Assault Helpline: 1800 010 120
Kids Help Line: 1800 55 1800
Lifeline: 13 11 14
If you believe you or your children are in immediate danger, please call 000.