CASA of Arizona

Domestic Violence - pg. 2

Why Do Victims Stay?



There are many reasons why a victim remains in an abusive relationship. Here are several of the most commonly stated reasons.

  • Despite the abuse, they love their husband/partner.
  • Hope things will get better.
  • They grew up in a similar environment and feel "this is how things are" (the term for this is "learned helplessness").
  • Emotionally dependent on the abuser.
  • Financially dependent on the abuser.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • They don't want anyone to know because there is considerable social stigma attached to domestic violence.
  • Religious beliefs keep them from leaving.
  • They are afraid of what the abuser will do after they leave.
  • Want their children to have a father.
  • Deny being abused because they are afraid to make the changes necessary to break out of the pattern.

There are other reasons, each dependent upon the individual situation. Men who are battered and choose to stay do so for many of the same reasons that women stay.

Some of the pressures that battered people face come from society and the people around them. There is resistance to deal with situations of domestic violence. Levels of resistance can be influenced by workload, strength of agency supports, beliefs about children and families, and stress levels.

Four basic levels of resistance are:

Existence - There is no problem. A natural and human reluctance to believe that unpleasant and horrible things happen.

Sounds like: "you can prove anything with statistics"; "life isn't always fair": or "I've never been affected by this problem."

Significance - There is a problem, but it is not big and not of a high priority.

Sounds like: "kids tend to exaggerate"; "nothing really happened"; or "he was just kidding around, he didn't really mean it."

Solvability - There is a problem, but there is nothing that can be done about it.

Sounds like: "violence is part of human nature"; "maybe we can alleviate it some, but solve it completely...no"; or "don't be naive, we have to live in the real world."

Self - There is a problem, but I cannot do anything about it.

Sounds like: "well maybe there are solutions.. but there's nothing I can do"; or "why me? it's their job."


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