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Let me start by saying, domestic violence doesn’t have “a look”.  I’ve wiped the tears off the face of a Fortune 500 Company CEO.  You know, the one with the husband with a great smile, tailored suit, and shiny, diamond cufflinks.  I’ve also helped the homeless teenager who tried to cover her bruises with make-up and counseled the working-class woman with no physical bruises but more emotional trauma than you could ever imagine.  While their outward appearances were very different, they were all living a life of hell, fear, and horror.  They were all living a life that no one should have to live.

So, why does she stay?

We’ve already talked about the warning signs of a potential abuser in “Unhealthy Love” – and about how hard it is to spot one, but why does a woman stay when her partner becomes physically or emotionally abusive?  It’s hard for some people to understand, but there are many reasons why a woman stays: some are emotional and some are situational.  It’s easy to say from a distance, “Well, I don’t understand why she doesn’t just get up and leave him/ her.”  But it’s not always that simple for individuals in this situation. We’re going to look at some of the different reasons why women who are suffering physical or psychological abuse might not think they can leave.

1. Emotional reasons – “I know he really loves me”

Many women stay in a toxic relationship because they believe that it will get better, or that it’s not the abuser’s fault.  They feel that it’s just his way of showing his love, or even that if the victim acts the way the abuser wants, it will be okay.  Others stay because they are too scared to leave – their abuser has threatened them, their family, their kids, or their pets if they try to leave.  

2. Situational reasons – “I don’t know how to be without him”

There are women who may be ready emotionally to leave an abusive situation, but they don’t know how.  They may be financially dependent, have no external support system, or be unable to rely on family or friends because of cultural or religious beliefs.  They might be afraid they will lose their children if they leave, or maybe they simply do not know where to go.

Bottom line

It’s hard, but you just have to get out.  It might not be simple or easy, but there are resources designed to help you.  The emotional and situational reasons make it hard to leave, but there are people who will listen and understand what you are going through, and there are shelters designed to help keep you and your children safe.  If you are the victim of domestic abuse, please use these resources to find out how you can take back control of your life and keep your children safe.  You are not alone, and you do not deserve to live like this.

IMPORTANT:  This post is intended for educational purposes only.  If you are a victim of domestic violence, please seek professional help immediately to determine the safest way for you and your children to exit the situation. #DrNita

Telephone resources include:

  • National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233)
  • The National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-4673
  • The National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: 1-866-331-9474

If you or your children are in danger, call 911.

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