Why Victims Stay in Abusive Relationships
It may be difficult to understand why a victim would stay with the abuser. People stay with abusive partners for many different reasons. Here are some of the reasons why an abused individual would continue to stay with a batterer:
Victims of abuse may fear additional violence to themselves, families, or friends if they leave the relationship. As the period after leaving the relationship is most dangerous period for many people.
Some victims may not want to leave because they want to keep the family intact. They may believe it is better for children to have both parents present in the household, regardless of the abuse.
Desire to stay in long–term relationship. Victims may not believe in divorce or separation because of cultural, religious, or personal reasons.
A victim may not want to leave a relationship out of love for the abuser. The abused individual may want to be in the relationship, but wish that the abuse would stop.
When a victim is repeatedly abused, whether verbally, physically, or emotionally, his or her self–esteem can be whittled away. The victim may start to think that he or she deserves the abuse or doesn't think that he or she could find another partner.
The batterer may provide financial or emotional support for the victim and his or her family. The battered may fear that he or she wouldn't be able to make an adequate income or be able to support his or her family.
Belief that the abuser will change.
Oftentimes, abusers promise that the abuse won't happen again so the victim will stay. But typically, the violence does happen again.
Doesn't know where to go or what to do.
The abused may not know where to go. Family and friends may be too scared to let the abused individual stay with them, or the abused may not know about victims' shelters or different community programs that help victims and their families.
If you are a victim of domestic violence you may blame your own behavior, rather than the violent actions of the abuser. However, violence is a choice made by an abusive person, and does not happen because of something you do or don't do.
It's not easy to end any relationship, whether abuse is involved or not. However, if you or someone you know is currently experiencing or have experienced abuse in a intimate relationship, support is available. The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides free, confidential services to victims and survivors of domestic abuse. The EAP is committed to helping employees and their household members feel safe – in their homes, communities, and workplaces.
How To Stay Safe
Abusive relationships are terrifying, but terminating a relationship with someone whom is hurting you can be even more terrifying. It is a myth that people don't leave violent relationships. Many leave an average of five to seven times before they are able to leave permanently. You may feel that you are in greater danger from your partner's abuse when you leave. Only you can decide what is best for you and your children.
Whether you decide to remain with your abusive partner or leave, it is important for you to plan for your safety. Keeping yourself (and your children) safe is of the utmost importance; therefore it is imperative that you follow a comprehensive safety plan. These are suggestions that work for some but not all, and it is important to make an individual plan that considers all factors and risks in a person's situation.
Contact your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) professional for confidential consultation, counseling, support, safety planning, and links to workplace and community resources.
Plan a safe place to stay. Make sure that your “safe–place” is unknown to the person who is abusing you such as a shelter for battered adults. If you have children, make sure that the place you are going to is set up to take children.
Never disclose your whereabouts to your abuser. Tell a friend where you will be staying, and when you plan to return. Establish a support system that will help you get through the difficult emotional times ahead. Friends and family, counselors and pastors will be of help during these times with your financial affairs as well as practical day–to–day matters.
Get as many safety devices as possible. Especially a cellular phone and keep it with you at all times.
Pack an “emergency bag” with things you will need for an extended stay, and keep it hidden, but ready to use in case you feel that your life is in danger, and need to leave at a moment's notice.
Document everything about the abuse. Documentation is key when trying to substantiate your claim of being abused. Photographs, video and audiotapes, police and medical reports will help attorneys mount an effective defense. Keep these at a friend or relative's house or in a safety deposit box, and never tell the abuser they exist.
Seek legal help. There are laws that protect victims of domestic violence, and the courts may grant you a restraining order and special hearings to monitor your abuser's compliance. Once you begin a legal action, follow through.
Notify your supervisor and security about your situation, allow a neutral person to assess the risk for violence in the workplace, and submit a recent photograph of the abuser to security in the event of a confrontation at work.
Discuss work options such as flexible scheduling, telecommuting, safety precautions, and employee benefits such as leave or flex time with your supervisor.
Although domestic violence is still disproportionately men abusing women, domestic violence is perpetrated by, and on, both men and women, and occurs in same–sex and opposite–sex relationships. If you are a male victim of domestic violence, you may have found it difficult to find adequate help and support. Unfortunately there is still a belief among some that men simply cannot be victims of domestic violence. This can make it even more difficult for male victims to confide in anyone about what is happening which can lead to depression, despair, low self esteem, a feeling of hopelessness and isolation.
If you are a man who is being abused in this way there ARE people out there who can offer support, understanding, information, advice, and help. Do not hesitate to contact the EAP or the other resources specializing in Domestic Violence.
National Domestic Violence Hotline
Domestic violence victims many times minimize the seriousness of incidents in order to cope, and not seek medical attention or assistance when needed. Because you fear the perpetrator and may be ashamed of your situation, you may be reluctant to disclose the abuse to family, friends, work, the authorities, or victim assistance professionals. As a consequence, you may decide to suffer in silence and isolation.
It is not your fault that you are being abused. Nobody deserves to be assaulted, least of all by a partner who is supposed to be part of a caring relationship. People often blame themselves because that is what they are told by the abuser, but that is just their way of justifying what they are doing to you. You should always remember that being assaulted is wrong.
It is very easy to say that you must find help, but that is exactly what you should do. It might not be easy to talk to someone about what is happening to you, but you must. Either confide in a friend or contact a local resource specializing in Domestic Violence. It is important to talk to someone who can offer you emotional support and also practical help.