Women stay in abusive relationships for many reasons that family and friends may not understand until they place themselves in the victim’s shoes. Some people think that the victim has no other choice than to stay. Some people think the victim chooses to stay. Some people think that the victim brought the abuse upon themselves by them not being “good enough” to their partner. I believe the more appropriate question is “Why won’t the abuser let her go?” Battered women are most likely to be assaulted and/or murdered when they leave or end the relationship. Hence the widely used phrase, “If I can’t have her, no one can.” Here are four reasons why some battered women stay in abusive relationships.
An abuser can control their victim in a variety of ways if he controls her income. Without money the victim cannot afford transportation to leave her abuser. If she does not have a job then she most likely does not have colleagues she can seek to for help. Without money the victim is dependent on her abuser. It takes money for communication, food, clothing, etc. If the abuser holds the one resource to all these necessities then the victim has no other choice than to obey her abuser.
In abusive marriages the victim may feel embarrassed about the social stigma of divorce. This shame is frequent in religious marriages. Often religious leaders and friends will make the victim feel guilty about divorcing their husband even if the religious leader is aware that the victim’s husband is abusive. I can’t speak for all religions, but I know Christianity does not condemn women to remain in domestic violence. “So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church” (Ephesians 5:28-29).
The victim may fear for their children’s safety if she attempts to leave her abuser. If the abuser threatens that he would hurt or kidnap the victim’s children then the victim will mostly sacrifice her freedom for the sake of her children’s safety. Some victims have children by their abuser and they feel that their abuser deserves to have a relationship with his kids. Abusers may act kind to their children not because they love them, but they use the children as a means to control their victim (although the children are victims too whether they are abused or not).
Hope and Love
Women don’t fall in love with their partner because he’s a batterer, they fall in love because he is a gentleman. Some women hold on to hope that one day their abuser will go back to the loving man he once was. Some women have an abuser who’s abuse is off and on. Meaning there is a period (weeks, months, or years) when their abuser is a calm and loving person, and the victim believes that things are back to “normal.” Suddenly their abuser goes right into their abusive ways again.
If you are experience abuse or know someone who is being abused it is important to seek help immediately. Too many women have lost their lives because help was sought after too late. Fear and other circumstances may be preventing you from seeking help for yourself or for a friend, but you never know when it may be too late.