stay for the kids

50 Obstacles to Leaving: 21-30

“Why don’t you just leave the relationship?”

According to Sarah Buel: “This question has been fueled by those who believe that remaining with a batterer indicates stupidity, masochism, or codependence. Far from being accurate, such labels prove dangerous to victims because they tend to absolve batterers of responsibility for their crimes.

There are many different reasons that a victim may stay in an abusive relationship. This week to shed some light on the frequently asked question of why a victim doesn’t just leave, we’re taking a closer look at 50 different obstacles that prevent someone from leaving. Follow along on our blog throughout the week to read about all of them.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, call us toll-free and confidentially at 1-800-799-SAFE(7233) to speak confidentially with an advocate.

21. Keeping the Family Together: Victims believe it is in their children’s best interest to have their father or a male role model in the family.

22. Illiterate Victims: Illiterate victims may be forced to rely on the literate batterer for everyday survival.

23. Incarcerated or Newly Released Abuse Victims: Such victims often don’t have support systems to assist them with re-entry to the community. Parole officers may require that they return home if that appears to be a stable environment.

24. Law Enforcement Officer: If the perpetrator is a law enforcement officer, the victim may fear that other officers will refuse to assist or believe them if they come forward.

25. Lesbian and Gay Victims: Victims may feel silenced if disclosing their sexual orientation (to qualify for a protective order) could result in losing their job, family, and home.

26. Low Self-Esteem: Victims may believe they deserve no better than the abuse they receive.

27. Love: Since many batterers are initially charming, victims fall in love and may have difficulty altering their feelings with the first sign of a problem.

28. Mediation: Mediation can put the victim in the dangerous position of incurring the batterer’s wrath for disclosing the extent of the violence.

29. Medical Problems: The victim must stay with the batterer to obtain medical services, especially if they share insurance.

30. Mentally Ill Victims: Victims face negative societal stereotypes in addition to the batterer’s taunts that the victim is crazy and nobody will believe anything that they say.

5 replies
  1. Alice says:

    My reason for staying isn’t on this list – my abusive partner moved away from his home country and gave up his job to be with me. As a result he is 100% reliant on me for financial support and I don’t know what he would do if I broke up with him. He would be destitute with no-one to help him. I feel responsible for him being in this situation and I don’t know what to do. I’m trying to get him to go to therapy and change. I still care about him deeply.

    • HotlineAdmin_VW says:

      Dear Alice, You sound like a hard working, responsible woman in a difficult and confusing situation. If you were to call us here at The Hotline
      1-800-799-7233, you will have a safe place to talk about your life. That might help you answer your own questions.

      But remember, the list of 50 Obstacles To Leaving isn’t yet complete. There are some 25 more to go. But there is a new book by a renowned author, researcher, and counselor, Lundy Bancroft. The Title is, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?: A Guide to Knowing if Your Relationship Can- and Should Be Saved”.

      Part of the promotional material for this book promises answers to questions like these:
      Do we have a “relationship problem.” or is it realy that the problem comes from my partner’s own issues?
      Am I the problem? Do I just expect too much from a relationship?
      Is my partner capable of changing and becoming kind, responsible, and committed? How do I tell if he’s really changing or not? or if he will?
      What steps should I take to get this relationship back on course?
      How much more time should I invest in this relationship?

      Please call-we are anonymous and confidential and here to support you.

  2. shannon says:

    The following is common for many survivors:

    Their clergy encourages them to stay due to their religious convictions. Many survivors stay as not to offend their beliefs.

    • HotlineAdmin_VW says:

      Shannon, You have raised a good point about the role of religion in domestic violence. But many survivors never hear another side of that relationship.

      There is a group of religious practitioners who are concerned about sexual and domestic violence. The Faith Trust Institute, ( is a national, multifaith, multicultural training and education organization with global reach working to end sexual and domestic violence. They provide communities and advocates with the tools and knowledge to address the religious and cultural issues related to abuse. They also have a wonderful bibliography and many handouts to educate people on the views of their own religions on violence.Check it out. But, of course, we are always here, 24/7 at The Hotline 1800-799-7233.

  3. Mark says:

    The assumption in reason 21 above about keeping the family together says the abuser is male. This is incredibly offensive. In fact the most common reason for not leaving that male targets of abuse experience is a fear of never seeing their children again. Female abusers use child custody as a control weapon against their male targets.

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