Why Do Abused Women Stay?

  1. Women are fearful of losing their children and/or being murdered.
  2. The initial period of separation is the most dangerous for women.
  3. Women lack trust in the legal system and the police response to protect them.
  4. Restraining orders give a false sense of security and Police fail to uphold court orders.
  5. Transition houses are often full.
  6. The financial realities of separating include the consideration of: Lawyers’ fees, housing deposits, finding housing that takes children, daycare costs/finding daycare, inadequate child maintenance award which may be taxable and unreliable, seeking social assistance, locating employment or retraining.
  7. Exhaustion follows abuse whether physical or psychological and leaves little energy. The fight or flight response is constant.
  8. Women’s self-esteem is damaged by the verbal and physical abuse and the shame of being abused by the person who is supposed to love them.
  9. Women feel responsible for their abuse: according to their abuser, according to society “you chose him for better or for worse”, and women are made to feel their communication skills or their conflict management skills are lacking.
  10. Isolation from family and friends so women can’t check their own perceptions. The shame of having been abused makes it hard to tell even the closest friend.
  11. In order to survive, women may use repression, denial, and other defense mechanisms to help them survive. i.e. “it must be the drugs or the alcohol that is making him do this”.
  12. Society still gives the message that a woman without a male partner may have something wrong with her.
  13. Even though the women may seek separation from her abusing partner, contact often continues because of children. Women may feel they can never really be free of the abuser because of the children. Legal, financial, and emotional abuse can continue, usually putting the children in the middle as pawns to execute the abuser’s continued power and control. Times such as transfer of children for weekend access, parent-teacher interviews, school plays, sporting activities all become very tense because of the potential for verbal or physical abuse toward the mothers.