Relationships are complex and abusive relationships come with their own set of complexities. It is difficult to ‘just walk away’ from a relationship. It takes an immense amount of courage to leave. Domestic violence and abuse are about power and control and when a survivor walks away from the relationship they threaten the power and control that their partner has established over them. This may cause the partner to respond in hurtful and harmful ways and hence makes the process of leaving very difficult.
Reasons for staying in an abusive relationship are extremely complex. One of the major reasons includes fear of retaliation from the perpetrator or the following through of the threats that the perpetrator has been using to ensure the survivor stays in the relationship. These could include fear of personal safety, the safety of children, custody of children, financial dependency, and much more. As the survivor is aware of the extent the perpetrator is willing to go, they may not be able to escape the relationship.
Leaving an abusive relationship is not as easy as simply walking away.
Why do people stay?
Many people fear for their personal and their child’s safety when they are in an abusive relationship. Besides the physical risks of staying in abusive relationships, there are also emotional and situational reasons involved regarding why people choose to stay.
- Believe that their partner would change and that the abuse would stop.
- In families where abusive relationships have been normalised, people fail to recognise the red flags of an unhealthy relationship.
- Financially dependent on their partner
- Lack of support from family to leave the partner
- Loving their partner, attachment to their partner and feeling responsible for the abuse they face.
- Feeling scared to make life-changing decisions or feeling guilty over the failure of their relationship.
- Fear of emotional trauma that their child would experience in the case of separation
- Fear of loss of custody of children
- Societal pressure and shame – In India, divorce is considered taboo and domestic violence is a private matter that many refuse to acknowledge or speak about. Hence, separating from the perpetrator becomes an ordeal for many survivors when the relationship status is given more than the safety of the survivor.
- Fear that their problems will not be taken seriously by society as well as law enforcement agencies.
- Lack of access to resources and information regarding domestic violence redressal mechanisms.
- Disability – If someone is dependent on others for physical support, they might find it difficult to leave as they might equate their well-being to being in the relationship.
A survivor goes through immense psychological and emotional turmoil which forces them to stay in abusive relationships. If you know someone who is being subjected to domestic violence, sensitive and unbiased are two words that one must never forget when talking to a survivor of domestic violence and abuse. Do remember that it is not easy for the survivor to leave their partner immediately. As a family member or friend always remember that, the survivor knows what is best for them. Be patient and supportive of the decisions that the survivor makes. They need friends and people around them who are willing to listen to them, have an open mind and are non-judgemental. The goal is never to get them to leave an abusive relationship or situation but rather to provide.
It is not your fault
If you are being subjected to abuse, you may feel scared, trapped, angry or confused. All of these are normal responses to instances of abuse and violence. Sometimes people also tend to blame themselves for the abuse they face. However, please know that abuse is never the survivor’s fault.
Please contact our toll-free helpline for free counselling, safe home and legal support 1800 212 9131, if it is unsafe to call leave us a message on WhatsApp- 9333 40 4141 and our team will get back to you. All calls are confidential.