Domestic abuse can cause untold mental and physical hurt, so why would a victim remain in their abusive relationship? To discover the reasons why, read on…
In today’s world, domestic abuse rates are extremely high. Millions of people, every year, suffer from abuse, and put up with controlling behaviour. What’s more, what with people remaining in their homes at the moment, these abuse rates seem to be skyrocketing. When you are going through these types of situations, it’s crucial to have the right legal approach. Many great Domestic Abuse Solicitors will listen, advise, and act on your behalf to protect you and, if applicable, your children. They will ensure the right safeguarding and protection is in place to protect you from the abuser.
With all this in mind, you may be wondering why anyone would stay in a relationship like this. If it’s dangerous, why put up with it?
Well, there are plenty of reasons why a victim might put up with their abusive relationship. To discover these reasons, and to help you spot the signs of domestic abuse, read on…
What are the Signs of an Abusive Relationship?
Before we go into the reasons that victims remain in abusive relationships, I think it’s important to set up some definitions. After all, it’s one thing thinking you or a friend are a victim of domestic abuse, but if you really are, then something needs to change.
There are a number of ways you can recognise abuse. Whether you’re in the abusive relationship yourself, or whether you’re an onlooker, there are some key ways to tell, including…
How do I Know if I’m in an Abusive Relationship?
- Physical abuse: your partner physically hits you and hurts you.
- Emotional abuse: this can come in the form of emotional blackmail, making you feel guilty for not spending time with them, and withdrawing affection.
- Mental abuse: making you feel worthless, by diminishing your self-worth and identity.
- Sexual abuse: your partner forces themselves upon you, and you feel as though you can’t say no.
- Gaslighting: your partner makes you feel crazy for thinking certain things which are, in fact, true.
- Humiliating you: your partner embarrasses you in front of your friends. We’re not talking fun banter here, we’re talking genuine upset, and feelings of humiliation.
- Extreme jealousy: you feel as though you can’t even look at another person without being berated for “cheating”.
- Isolation: you’re worried about spending too much time with friends, and constantly have to dip out due to fear.
- Constantly checking up on you: when you’re out and about, you feel uneasy and watched all the time.
- Controlling your finances: your money is under the control of your partner, and you have no freedom as to how you spend your earnings.
- Fear: you are scared of your partner, and fear making them angry.
How to Recognise if Your Friend is a Victim of Domestic Abuse
- A withdrawal from your social group, and not attending the usual girls’ nights etc.
- Your friend has to leave early when you do gather together.
- Constantly checking their phone when they’re with you.
- If your friend is constantly coming out in bruises from “a nasty fall”, then this may be a clear sign.
- They aren’t themselves when you meet up.
- They seem unhappy and glazed over all the time.
- Your friend dresses differently, or wears different makeup.
- They are defensive about the relationship, and ask you to stop prying.
10 Reasons Why Domestic Abuse Victims Stay…
Clearly, being in an abusive relationship is not something anyone wants. It’s draining for the emotions and, quite frankly, dangerous in every aspect. So, why would somebody remain in a situation like this? Well, there are a number of reasons for this, some of which include:
As we’ve seen, some abusive relationships may revolve around money. Oftentimes, an abusive partner may take control of the victim’s bank account, so they have ultimate control of their earnings. Or, in many cases, victims become so isolated that they quit their job, and become completely financially dependent on their other half.
In each of these cases, the inability to escape is quite apparent. Without the independence to find somewhere to live without their other half, they are trapped in this situation.
You may be thinking, “if they’re trapped, why don’t they say something to someone?” Well, there are a huge number of reasons for this, but fear is a big factor. The fear of being beaten, or worse, if found out may be more than the will to break free.
In some cases, the expectations of the victim’s family may be enough to keep them where they are. For example, in some religions, divorcing your partner is frowned upon, and maintaining a traditional family is very important. Otherwise, disgrace may follow suit.
Because of this, leaving their partner is sometimes not a feasible option for these sorts of abuse victims. The fear of being disowned by their family may be worse than the need to escape.
A common characteristic of domestic abuse victims is their lack of self-worth. Through the removal of independence, and the following isolation, the victim’s identity is slowly, but surely, washed away.
What’s more, many abusers will put their partner down again and again, through the use of sarcasm, punishments, and harsh words. This consistent harassment can have a profound effect on victims, leaving them to feel completely worthless.
We’ve briefly mentioned isolation from family and friends, but this is a key point in itself. Through the removal of self-worth and independence, as well as the constant fear, a victim of domestic abuse will likely become very withdrawn and isolated.
Through feeling worthless, they may end up feeling like a burden to their friends. Then, this can turn into feelings of social anxiety when meeting up, which plagues the thoughts, and makes the victim feel as though their friends hate them. Ultimately, this can end up in a complete withdrawal from social gatherings, which heightens these feelings even more.
This isolation is then a recipe for disaster. When the victim withdraws without a word, friends may also withdraw, which makes it harder and harder to get help.
Anxiety About the Unknown
If you’ve been in a relationship for a long time, you’ll know that the thought of living life without that person can seem impossible. For a victim of domestic abuse, who has minimal identity to begin with, this impossibility is escalated times ten!
Thousands of questions will be racing through the person’s head… What if you deserve this, and this relationship is the best you can do? What if I never find someone else? No one wants to remain alone, and the fear of never finding anyone else can be too hard to bear.
There Are Children in the Picture
For many victims of abuse, having children may be a reason to escape; to protect the young ones. That said, more often than not, these children are a big reason to stay in the relationship. The fear of breaking up the family, and not being able to provide for the kids, can seem like an impossible task. So, as a sacrifice, victims will remain with their abusive significant other.
Thinking Their Situation is Normal
Abusers have a way of making everything seem normal. The fluctuating personalities of an abuser, and the passion and excitement that may sometimes come with the control and fear, could fool the victim.
In many cases, abuse victims may be in their first ever relationship. To them, everything they’re experiencing, including this passion, will seem normal to them. Especially when we consider the romanticised images in TV and film of abusive relationships, it’s no surprise that victims see these actions as part and parcel of the ups and downs of any relationship.
They Feel Embarrassed
Once a victim realises they’re being abused, this realisation that they’ve put themselves through this, and been stupid enough to fall for it, may be enough to keep them in the relationship. This way, they don’t have to face up to the situation, and don’t have to face the sympathy and pity from those around them.
This may seem petty, however, remember that victims of abuse tend to have low self-worth anyway? This lack of confidence already will make a task like breaking free seem absolutely insurmountable.
They Love Their Partner
At the end of the day, victims of abuse are stuck between wanting to leave, but still being in love. They’ll be in love with the way their relationships once was, in love with the image in their minds of the how the relationship was supposed to be, and in love with the idea of being in love. This power can truly keep a hold on someone who is as fragile and lost as a victim.
Want to Help an Abused Friend?
I hope this article has shed some light on why people remain in their abusive relationships. As you can see, it’s often unavoidable, and not their choice at all. In some cases, they may not even realise they’re being abused, so it’s important that we recognise the signs, and help where we can.
Do you suspect that a friend or family member of yours might be stuck in an abusive relationship? These days, there are so many ways you can help them out, online and in person. Who knows, this sort of intervention might be exactly what the victim needs to finally escape.
Have you had any experience being in an abusive relationship, or maybe you think a friend of yours is currently a victim of domestic abuse? Whatever it may be, feel free to share your stories in the comments below, so we can support one another through it all…