Domestic violence occurs when one person in an intimate relationship tries to dominate and control the other person either physically, sexually, emotionally and/or economically. People who have never experienced abuse may wonder why a victim chooses to stay in the relationship. Many different factors can hinder a victim from leaving the abuser
- Fear – Your partner may threaten to hurt or kill you or someone you care about if you leave.
- Love – An abuser rarely shows signs of violence in the beginning of a relationship, and once you start loving someone, it can be very hard to let go.
- Hope – Happy memories blended with promises of a change from the abuser creates hope that the abuse will stop.
- Denial – Admitting that someone you love is hurting you can be very hard and you may deny the severity of the violence.
- Blame – Your partner may blame you for the abusive behavior and make you feel like you are responsible and you deserve it.
- Hopelessness – You may believe that you will never find a better partner that can make you happy.
- Financial dependence – You may depend on your partner for financial support to survive.
- Rescue complex – By staying, you may think you can “fix” your partner and save them from their own abusive behavior.
- Children – If you and your partner have children together, you may think that having two parents are better than one for the children.
- Guilt – Your partner may make you feel guilty for how much it would hurt him or her if you left.
- Embarrassment and shame – You may not want people to know what is going on due to fear of embarrassment and you choose to stay in order to keep the abuse a secret.
What many people may not understand is the amount of control and power an abuser has over a victim. Because of this, on average it often takes a victim seven to nine times to leave their abuser for good. However, victims who leave an abusive relationship run a higher risk of being killed by their abuser after they left than victims who stay in the relationship. Whether a victim decides to stay or leave, it isn’t an easy decision. He or she has a lot to consider for his or her own safety, and he or she isn’t alone and there is always help available.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship please call the Hubbard House 24-hour domestic violence hotline at (904) 354-3114 or (800) 500-1119. Hubbard House can help.
ABOUT HUBBARD HOUSE
Founded as the first domestic violence shelter in Florida in 1976, Hubbard House is a certified, comprehensive domestic violence center providing programs and services to more than 6,000 women, children, and men annually in Duval and Baker counties. While Hubbard House is most known for its emergency shelter, the agency also provides extensive adult and youth outreach services, school-based education, therapeutic childcare, batterers’ intervention programs, court advocacy and volunteer and community education opportunities. Visit www.hubbardhouse.org to learn more.
By Vicky Krook