You hear the comments all the time in reference to the victims of domestic violence: “Why do they let themselves be abused?” and “Why don’t they just leave?”
The reality is that nobody asks to be abused and nobody lets themselves be victimized. And people don’t leave relationships that are clearly unsafe for all kinds of complicated reasons. Here are just a few of the most common:
They have no idea if anybody will believe them
Some abusers, especially those with narcissistic or sociopathic traits, can actually be quite charming in public. Many even know how to manipulate scenarios so that their victims look unstable or vindictive. It’s very difficult for someone to leave an abuser when their friends and family members keep saying they’re “lucky” to have that abuser around because of the public persona they’ve created. This deprives the victim of a community where they can find support.
The abuser in the military or law enforcement
It can be hard to trust the system to protect you from an abuser when your abuser is part of the system. Victims may believe (or know) that their spouse can rely on other members of their unit to cover for them – and they may also fear retaliation against themselves and anybody brave enough to help them.
They’re financially under the control of the abuser
How do you leave when you have nowhere to go and no money? Many abusive partners take control of the finances precisely for this reason. The victim who feels like they have no resources and no community to turn to is going to be hesitant to leave.
They’re afraid that the violence will escalate
When is a domestic violence victim most in danger? When they leave their abuser. Violence can escalate as the abuser tries to reassert their control over the victim and retain the “status quo.”
It’s always good to remember that domestic violence is something that usually develops over time – and the victims are often more afraid of the devil they don’t know than the one they do. Experienced legal guidance can, however, make it easier to get out – and stay safe as you make the next steps on your journey to a better life.