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Barriers to Leaving

One of the most common questions people ask about domestic violence is
"Why does she stay?"

It is unfortunate that people spend much more energy on this question than the question
"Why does s/he batter?"

There are many reasons women stay in abusive relationships.

These are just some of them:

  • She may not know of places to go for help where her partner will not find her.
  • She may be afraid that her partner will beat her more, or even kill her, if she leaves.
  • She may be dependent on her partner's income, or lack job skills to start out on her own, or with her children.
  • She may not think people will believe her because her partner is well-liked or well-known in her community.
  • She may fear losing her identity as part of a couple, or as a mother.
  • She may believe marriage or a commitment is forever. She cares about her partner and feels love for her partner.
  • Divorce may be against her religion.
  • She may be ashamed of the abuse, and may feel as though it is her fault.
  • She may not want her children to lose a parent.
  • She may fear losing custody of her children.
  • She may have been isolated in the relationship to the point that she no longer has a support system of friends and family.
  • She may fear losing her job.
  • She may not have another means of childcare, health care, transportation, or housing.
  • She may fear homelessness, and she may not want to lose her home and her belongings.
  • Her friends and family may pressure her to 'work things out'.
  • She may not want involvement with the law enforcement, legal, or welfare systems.
  • Law enforcement may not be a safe option for her.
  • She may not want to disrupt her children's schooling or social environment.
  • She may not have regular access to a phone or car to leave, make contact with police, or call a friend.

All women face barriers when trying to escape dangerous relationships. It is helpful, when dealing with an abusive situation, whether you are yourself a survivor, trying to assist a survivor, or simply educating yourself about domestic violence, to be knowledgeable about all the potential barriers a woman may be encountering because of her color, age, ability level, socio-economic status, religion, history, geographical location, or life history.


Click the link below to learn more about the additional barriers some survivors face when trying to leave or survive an abusive relationship.