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Why it is hard to leave

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There are many reasons why people stay in an abusive or violent relationship. It is not as simple as just leaving.

  • They may still love their partner. After all, they would not have gotten into a relationship if their partner wasn't charming, interesting, or had other positive qualities
  • Hope that their partner will change or that they can do something to fix the problem
  • Leaving may be dangerous - sometimes offenders retaliate, stalk, and even kill their partners who leave
  • Offenders may threaten to commit suicide, hurt pets or children
  • Offenders may threaten to take the children away or call immigration
  • Fear of consequences for their partner such as arrest or deportation
  • Fear of starting all over, being alone or never being loved by anyone else
  • Not having the financial resources
  • Isolated from friends, family, community and support services
  • Shame, guilt, depression, anxiety
  • Blaming self for the abuse
  • Lack of information about options
  • Family, religious or cultural expectations
  • Concern for the children, keeping the family together
  • and many more...

LGBT survivors may face additional barriers:

  • Shelters and other services may not be available for men and transgender individuals
  • Service providers may be confused about how to identify the survivor/victim from the offender and mistakenly provide inappropriate resources
  • Threat of sexual orientation, gender identity, or HIV status being "outed" to employer, family, police, spiritual community, etc.
  • The lack of legal relationship recognition complicating custody of children or immigration status
  • The lack of protections and resources for LGBT people
  • Isolation from supportive LGBT coming out groups
  • Not having access to hormones or HIV medications
  • Believing that they deserve abuse for being LGBT
  • Believing that abusive behavior is a normal part of LGBT relationships
  • Believing that if two people are the same sex, they share equal power and what is happening is not abuse
  • Believing that the abuse is not serious and should be easier to leave because the relationship is same-sex and not legally recognized
  • These barriers often mean that LGBT survivors choose to stay longer than heterosexual victims

Instead of asking "Why doesn’t the victim leave?” it is more helpful to understand how relationship violence works and learn ways to help a survivor/victim be as safe as possible.

Back to the Relationship Violence Page