Last week, we were discussing the question that I’m asked daily, “Why doesn’t she leave?”
You learned that the three reasons a woman stays in an abusive relationship are fear, stalking and economics. If you missed that blog entry, look for “Blog Archive” on the right side of the page and click on “Why Doesn’t She Leave, Part I” to get more background information on this topic.
This week we’ll discuss three more reasons a woman will stay in a dangerous relationship.
Reason #4 - Children
Children can often be the trigger that enables a woman to leave the relationship, but they can also be the reason they stay. Women will stay to protect their children.
Abusers will threaten to take the children from them through the court systems with threats such as, “I will call the state and report you as a neglectful mother” or “I will tell them you use drugs.” Or they may threaten to kidnap the children and never let her see them again.
The women know that the threats are real. When faced with the possibility of never seeing your children again, the answer is simple: you stay.
Reason #5 - Emotions
Women stay because of feelings of guilt, shame and a host of other emotions. They may feel guilty that something bad could happen to him because he has been arrested, or he might lose his job or his status in the community. She may feel the abuse is her fault, and thinks if she would have done something differently, he wouldn’t have lost control.
It is very common for an abuser to threaten suicide when they feel that their partner is thinking of leaving, as a way to keep them in the relationship and in their control.
Reason #6 – Love
The reason that seems to be the most difficult for people to grasp is that the women are in love with their partner. Being in love with their partner doesn’t mean they are in love with the abuse. Battered women do not thrive on being hurt.
Abusive relationships can have periods where there is no abuse, also known as the “Honeymoon Period”. This is the time when the woman can see the person that she fell in love with; the one that doesn’t hurt her with his words and actions, but shows her kindness, sorrow and regret for previous actions.
She desperately wants to believe that this change is for real and will last. She wants it to be the relationship that she had always hoped it would be. So she stays to give it another chance, to believe that her dreams can come true.
So why don’t women leave? My answer is this: they do. If they haven’t left yet, then there are reasons that are valid and need to be supported and understood.
My challenge to you is this: rather than asking “why doesn’t she leave?” ask yourself, “what can I do to support her so that she can leave safely? What can I do to make sure that he is held accountable for his actions so she is not put in the position of having to make that decision in the first place?”
Thank you for reading my blog and for your comments and questions. I look forward to our continued dialogue.