Leaving An Abusive Partner Sounds Easier Than It Is

Someone who’s being abused can’t always just walk out the door. In fact, studies have found that the average woman leaves an abusive partner seven times before she leaves him for good. Abuse can happen to anyone—even strong, smart, and intelligent people—and when it does, here’s why it’s not easy to leave it.

  1. The abused person believes they’re worthless. As the saying goes, throw enough mud against the wall and some of it will stick. Someone who’s been abused has been called horrible names and treated as though they were worthless. Over time, this starts to feel like the truth to them. If they don’t see their worth, they might feel they deserve the abuse or that they won’t be able to find a better life without their abuser.
  2. They’ve been isolated from their family and friends. One of the hallmarks of abuse is a person who’ll isolate their partner from those they’re closest to. It’s a clever way to keep the abused person trapped in the relationship. If they consider leaving, they might worry they won’t succeed because they don’t have any support or help.
  3. They’re being gaslighted. Abusers will use the tactic of gaslighting to make their partners feel that they’re in the wrong. For instance, an abusive person might tell his partner, “You’re totally nuts” or “Stop making things up in your head.” After a while, this can start to make a victim of abuse feel confused and doubtful of what’s real.
  4. They believe their partner is a good person at heart. Abusers are big manipulators. For instance, they might try to play the victim card, such as by saying they were abused as children or have had a hard life just to get their partners to feel guilty and support them. The abused partner might say things like, “It’s not their fault—their father beat him” to excuse this behavior.
  5. They’ve been threatened by their abusive partner. Over 70% of domestic violence murders occur after the victim has left the abusive situation. That’s scary stuff which just shows the fear many victims have about leaving the relationship and trying to make a life elsewhere.
  6. They have kids with their abuser. It’s difficult enough to try to leave a violent, abusive partner, but now imagine having kids in that situation. The victims of abuse might stay to try to protect their children, especially if they fear the abuser will kidnap or hurt them.
  7. They have no money. Abusers want control and one of the first ways in which they’ll try to exert that control over their partners is by controlling all the money in the relationship. If the abused person has no access to their own money, it’s really difficult to leave and start a new life.
  8. Abusers mess with their victims’ minds. They remember the kind, charming, and amazing people their abusive partners were when they started dating and sometimes that part of the abuser shows up again. This gives the victim hope that their partner will go back to being that person, keeping them in the relationship.
  9. They believe it’s their fault. After being blamed by the abuser for a long time, it’s easy for one to internalize those illogical thoughts. Research has found that some victims of abuse feel ashamed, thinking that they’ve triggered or caused the abuse.
  10. The situation feels normal. It might sound nuts but the abusive relationship can feel like it’s normal. This is especially the case if the victim of abuse has grown up in a home where abuse was the norm. Shifting out of this way of thinking isn’t an easy, overnight task.
  11. They’re afraid they won’t be taken seriously. If the abusive partner is a respected, popular person in society, the victim might feel that no one would believe them if they had to explain what their abuser is behind closed doors. There’s also the fear that police won’t take the situation seriously. As published on the UK website Health Talk, many people who contacted the police about their abuse were required to show “hard evidence” of it, which isn’t always easy to get. It’s even more difficult to prove emotional or mental abuse, even though they’re just as damaging as other types of abuse.
  12. They want to change their abuser. If the victim believes they caused their partner’s bad behavior, they might feel that they should try to help their partner so that they can change. If the abuser regularly shows remorse, this could further keep the victim locked into the relationship.
Giulia Simolo is a writer from Johannesburg, South Africa with a degree in English Language and Literature. She has been working as a journalist for more than a decade, writing for sites including AskMen, Native Interiors, and Live Eco. You can find out more about her on Facebook and LinkedIn, or follow her on Twitter @GiuliaSimolo.