Myth #7: If It’s THAT Bad, A Victim of Domestic Violence Would Just Leave.


FACT: Contrary to popular belief, a victim of domestic violence cannot usually “just” leave for in doing so it often jeopardizes her safety further as well as her children’s safety.

Many who have never been in an abusive relationship have difficulty understanding why the victim can’t just pack her bags and end it. After all, in normal relationships, where fear is not a factor, one can terminate the relationship without repercussions. However, in a domestic violence relationship, the repercussions are often serious… even deadly.

In fact, studies have shown the most lethal time for a victim of domestic violence is when she does leave.

  • Approximately 75% of women who are murdered by an intimate partner are killed while trying to leave.
  • On average, 3 women are murdered by their partner every day in the United States.
  • Additionally, females are more likely to be killed by a former intimate partner or current partner than any other person.

Besides the valid threat of potentially being murdered, there are numerous other reasons as to why a victim can’t always leave an abusive relationship.

Moreover, typically abusive relationships usually develop over time. In other words, most batterers do not announce they intend to abuse. Some batterers don’t even realize they are batterers. While others have learned somewhere along the way that abuse is acceptable behavior. Regardless, throughout the course of the relationship, much of the victim’s power has been stolen by the batterer.

Domestic violence is about power and control.

If a batterer has used fear to control her through a variety of forms (emotional abuse, verbal abuse, physical abuse, financial abuse, spiritual abuse), then it isn’t difficult to understand that fear is a valid factor as she decides if, how, and when to leave the relationship.
A victim may not leave for any one or a combination of the following valid reasons:

  • Fear of her abuser (Retaliation in whatever shape or form)
  • Financial fears (How will I provide for myself? My Kids?)
  • Fear of losing custody (Sadly, this is a common factor in domestic violence cases. Remember, the batterer is manipulative, cunning, and brutal. Also, many in law enforcement and our judicial system are tragically uneducated in the matters of domestic violence.)
  • Fear of him hurting their kids in her absence (during visitation).
  • Fear of him fulfilling his threats of hurting the kids, her family, or pet if she leaves.
  • Fear of him kidnapping the kids or killing the kids.
  • Fear of him killing her.
  • Fear of him killing himself (as he’s threatened).
  • Fear of finding and affording a place of her own.
  • Fear of living in hiding. Fear of being found.
  • Fear of being misunderstood. Fear of being judged.
  • Fear of losing friends, family, or her religious congregation if she speaks up.
  • Fear of being alone.

Before you unknowingly blame a victim by asking her, “Why don’t you just leave?”, consider asking more appropriate questions like, “Why does he batter?” and “What is being done to hold him accountable for abusing her?”

{ NOTE: If you are being abused, please use wisdom as you decide if, when, and how to exit the relationship. Consider using this tool to help plan for your safe passage. Be safe and smart…Have a plan! DV_Safety_Plan }