Leaving can be one of the most dangerous times in an abusive relationship, and there are countless reasons that victims are unable to leave. The question “Why don’t you just leave?” places blame on the victim and undermines the difficult, complicated nature of leaving abuse. To help address this, we’ve adapted Sarah M. Buel’s “Fifty Obstacles to Leaving, a.k.a., Why Abuse Victims Stay.”
This week we’re making our way through this list in hopes of illuminating the barriers that often prevent someone from getting out of an abusive relationship. Today we’re taking a closer look at ten more obstacles.
31. Mentally or Developmentally Challenged Victims: These victims are particularly vulnerable to the batterer’s manipulation and are likely to be dependent on the batterer for basic survival.
32. Military: If the victim or the perpetrator is in the military, an effective intervention is largely dependent on the commander’s response. Many commanders believe that it is more important to salvage the soldier’s military career than to ensure the victim’s safety.
33. No Place to Go: Victims can’t find affordable housing or there is no shelter space.
34. No Job Skills: Victims without job skills usually have no choice but to work for employers paying minimum wage, with few, if any, medical and other benefits.
35. No Knowledge of Options: Victims without knowledge of the options and resources logically assume that none exist.
36. Past Criminal Record: Victims with a past criminal record are often still on probation or parole, making them vulnerable to the batterer’s threats to comply with all of their demands or be sent back to prison.
37. Previously Abused Victims: Sometimes previously abused victims believe the batterer’s accusation, “See, this is what you drive your partners to do to you!”
38. Prior Negative Court Experiences: Victims don’t believe that they will be given the respect and safety considerations that they need in court.
39. Promises of Change: The batterer’s promises of change may be easy to believe because they sound sincere. Victims are socialized to be forgiving.
40. Religious Beliefs: Beliefs may lead victims to think they have to tolerate the abuse to show their adherence to the faith.