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Why don’t they leave the relationship?

If you are concerned about a loved one who you fear is in an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to understand why they might continue to stay and not leave the relationship. However, leaving an abusive relationship is a dangerous and complicated process. Leaving is often the most dangerous time for someone experiencing abuse, as leaving means they are trying to regain control and power back over their own lives. However, as abuse is about having power and control over someone, the abuser may retaliate in such destructive ways that it stops their partner from trying to leave for fear of what else may happen.


Here are a few examples of the barriers people face when leaving an abusive relationship and why it is so difficult:

  • Fear: afraid the abuser will become more violent if they leave. Often women have reported that the abuser has threatened to hurt them, their children, their families, or the abusers have threatened self-harm or suicide if they try to leave.
  • Housing: Difficulty in securing affordable housing and fear of being homeless.
  • Shame: it’s very difficult to admit you’ve been abused. Often people are afraid they won’t be believed.
  • Financial resources: Not having enough/if any income to support yourself and your children.
  • Immigration Status: people may fear that if they leave it will impact their visa status.
  • Language: If they have limited English it’s increasing difficult to explain what has been happening and seek support.
  • Believing the abuse is normal: a person may not realize what they are experiencing is abuse.