Some people do not understand why a survivor of abuse continues to maintain a relationship with her perpetrator.
It is very common to hear the question, "Why does she stay?"
Answering this question is not simple or easy. The violence does not occur by strangers in isolated incidents. Instead, the abuse most frequently comes from a person she has emotional feelings for, loves, and trusts. Because the abuse does not happen in isolated incidents, she can begin to normalize it in her mind. Along with that, there is the major possibility that she is afraid. Fear is an excellent scare tactic perpetrators use to maintain complete control over survivors. The perpetrator most likely knows her friends and family, and he will threaten them should she attempt to leave the relationship or tell somebody about the abuse.
The following is a list of reasons why survivors continue to endure abuse.
- She loves her spouse. The survivor probably has fond memories with her perpetrator; violence is not the sole aspect of their relationship. Refer to the cycle of violence page to learn more about this.
- She depends on her spouse for financial stability and resources. Many batterers do not allow their partners to work outside of the home and gain any form of financial independence. Batterers ensure their control through withholding money and other resources.
- She has no place to go. Many batterers also do not allow their partners to maintain close relationships with others. A survivor may lose her social support and feel as though she has no one to turn to for help. If you or someone you know feels this way, please view our domestic abuse hotline page to seek help and support.
- She fears for the safety of herself, loved ones, and children. Batterers instill fear in survivors through the use of threats of further violence and abuse. He may threaten her life should she attempt to seek help or leaves him. A survivor may have children with the perpetrator and wish to protect them through taking on the abuse herself. She may also feel as though it would not be beneficial for her children to grow up without a father figure, leading her to endure abuse.
- Her religious beliefs prevent her from exiting the relationship. Some religions stress the importance of staying with a partner through the good times and the bad, for better or for worse. Rather than leave a relationship, a survivor may feel she must stay.
- She lives in a society that accepts violence. Unfortunately, many societies normalize violence against women. There can be lots of victim blaming that makes it difficult for survivors to seek help and support.
*We use feminine pronouns to describe survivors and masculine pronouns to describe batterers because a majority of domestic abuse cases involve males abusing females. We recognize that some survivors are males and some batterers are females.