There are many reasons why a person does not leave an abusive relationship. As a friend or family member it is important for us to understand this
- they may still love and care about their partner. Some people want the relationship to continue but the abuse to stop.
- they may feel ashamed about the abuse and may believe that it is their fault.
- they may be too worried about what the future holds:
- where they will live
- what they will do for money
- whether they will have to hide forever
- whether they will be found
- they may not know who to go to or who to trust to help them to leave
- as a result of the abuse they may not have enough self confidence and self esteem to make any decisions
- they may believe that for the sake of the children it is better to stay in the relationship
- they may have become isolated from friends and family and have no way of asking for help
- they may not have any money
What can you do to help?
- listen without interrupting and try not to given an opinion
- do not try and take control of the situation, ask what they want to do
- understand if they decide that this is not the time for them to do anything. When they feel strong enough they will
- try not to become frustrated if they leave the relationship and go back soon after. Research has shown that on average it takes a woman 7 attempts to leave an abusive relationship.
If they are thinking of leaving you can help.
The best way to leave an abusive relationship is to make a plan to leave. If a plan is made and carried through the chances of getting away safely is increased. You can help them with this. See page Safety Plan ( can we link through to advice and guidance)
How are children affected?
- feel scared, confused, and guilty believing that arguments and abuse is taking place because of them
- be destructive towards their toys and other property
- be tearful
- display anger and become violent towards their family members and friends
- become withdrawn, lose their self confidence and their self esteem
- lose their concentration at school, have poor levels of achievement and be seen to display/express difficult behaviour
- refuse to go to school because they want to “keep an eye on” what is happening at home. This is because they feel a responsibility to protect the parent who is being abused
- isolate themselves from friends because they are trying to protect the ‘secrets’ at home
- be harmed whilst trying to protect another family member
and in some cases may:
- develop stress-related illnesses, such as bed wetting, skin disorders and eating problems
- turn to drugs or alcohol as a way of escaping their feelings
- self harm such as cutting, burning themselves and pulling their hair out
- run away from home
- commit or attempt to commit suicide