Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships?

People who have never been in an abusive relationship often wonder why do you stay? It is extremely hard to understand that leaving may be harder and more complicated than it seems.

There are many reasons people stay in abusive relationships. Leaving is often the most dangerous time for a victim of abuse. If you have a friend in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, support them by understanding why they may not want to or be able to leave. Other common reasons people stay in unhealthy relationships:

FearA person may be afraid of what will happen if they decide to leave the relationship. If a person has been threatened by their partner, they may not feel safe leaving the relationship.
Believing Abuse is NormalIf a person does not know what a healthy relationship looks like, perhaps from growing up in an environment where abuse was common, they may not recognize that their relationship is unhealthy.
Fear of Being OutedIf a person is in an LGBTQ+ relationship and has not yet come out to their family and friends, their partner may threaten to reveal their secret.
EmbarrassmentIt can be difficult for someone to admit that they are in an abusive relationship. They may feel they have done something wrong by becoming involved with an abusive partner. They may also worry about judgment from their friends and family.
Damaged Self WorthWhen an abusive partner constantly puts you down and blames you for the abuse, it can be easy for a victim to believe those statements and think that the abuse is their fault.
LoveA victim may feel love for their abusive partner. Abusive people can often be charming, especially at the beginning of a relationship, and the victim may hope that their partner will go back to being that person. They may only want the violence to stop, not for the relationship to end entirely.
ChildrenA victim may have children with the abusive partner and want to maintain their family, or they may fear what may happen to their children if they leave.
Cultural/Religious ReasonsTraditional gender roles supported by someone’s culture or religion may influence them to stay rather than end the relationship for fear of bringing shame upon their family from the church or their peers.
Language Barriers/ Immigration StatusIf a person is undocumented, they may fear that reporting their abuse could affect their immigration status. Or if a person’s first language is not English, it could also be difficult for them to express their situation to others.
Lack of Money/ResourcesIf a person is financially dependent on their abusive partner it may make it difficult to leave. Without money, or a place to go, it can seem impossible to leave.
DisabilityIf a person is physically dependent on their abusive partner, they can feel that their well-being is connected to the relationship. This dependency could heavily influence their decision to stay in an abusive relationship.