Do Victims Choose to Stay in Abusive Relationships?

Unfair blame is frequently put upon the victim of abuse because of assumptions that victims choose to stay in abusive relationships. A victim’s reasons for staying with their abusers are extremely complex and, in most cases, are based on the reality that their abuser will follow through with the threats they have used to keep them trapped.

Research says that most victims who finally leave try at least seven times before they succeed.

When it is a viable option, it is best for victims to do what they can to escape their abusers. However, this is not the case in all situations. Domestic violence does not always end when the victim escapes the abuser, tries to terminate the relationship, and/or seeks help. Often, it intensifies because the abuser feels a loss of control over the victim.

Bringing an end to abuse is not a matter of the victim choosing to leave; it is a matter of the victim being able to safely escape their abuser, or the abuser choosing to stop the abuse, or law enforcement and courts holding the abuser accountable for the abuse they inflict.

Sources: The United Nations, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Violence Domestic Hotline and Office on Women’s Health, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services.

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