There are many reasons why women stay in abusive relationships, but one thing is for sure: it’s not because they enjoy being beaten and mistreated. So why do they stay? The answer is complex, and there is no easy answer. But we should all take the time to understand the many factors that contribute to this difficult decision. Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual, and it can happen to anyone—regardless of age, race income level, or education.
Abuse can be physical, emotional, or sexual, and it can happen to anyone—regardless of age, race income level, or education.
If you’re wondering why she stays, read on for some insight into this troubling question.
Domestic violence is defined by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence as “an epidemic affecting individuals in every community, regardless of age, economic status, race, religion, nationality or educational background. It is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.”
Fortunately for society at large (and perhaps unfortunately for the victim), domestic violence is a crime that usually takes place behind closed doors and is rarely reported (or prosecuted) by the victim herself.
Not only is it common for domestic violence victims to keep abuse a secret, but often intimate partners will work together to cover up instances of physical or emotional abuse. For instance, if a husband hits his wife in public, the wife could potentially place a hand over her eye and claim she walked into a door, in an attempt to save face.
Not only does this help to cover for the abuser, but it also can prevent others from even realizing abuse is taking place in the first place. This is not to say that all victims of domestic violence are complicit in covering for their abusers; however, because violence and intimidation are tools used by the abuser to exert power and control over the victim, it’s possible that a victim could stay with her abuser for fear of further punishment.
For instance, if a wife were to leave her husband because he hit her one too many times, what would happen when she tried to break off the relationship? He might threaten to take their kids away if she leaves, and that would certainly influence her decision to stay in an emotionally and physically abusive situation.
It’s also very common for a woman to stay in a relationship with her abusive husband because she doesn’t have anywhere else to go.
For instance, if a woman were living in the United States without any family or friends nearby, and without much money of her own, it would be incredibly difficult for her to seek refuge from an abusive partner.
Even if she were able to find a shelter that would take her in, the length of stay is often limited. Many domestic violence shelters only offer temporary housing for women who are fleeing abuse, and they don’t always provide resources or support systems with the goal of helping victims transition into permanent homes.
So what does all this mean? It means it’s likely that you know someone who is currently in an abusive relationship, but they don’t necessarily want to leave.
If the statistics are any indication, then one out of every four women will experience domestic violence at some point in her life. That means that if you’re around 20 people (family, friends, co-workers), at least five of them could be victims of domestic violence.
Frightening, isn’t it? Simply put, this is a serious problem that won’t go away without the help of society as a whole.