Domestic Violence Awareness Month: Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?


It may be difficult for someone to comprehend a violent lifestyle if they’ve never experienced domestic violence. Friends and family members listen to horror stories involving black eyes, broken noses, emergency room visits, terrifying ordeals at night, and constant belittling. The common question is, “If things are so bad, why don’t you just leave?”

It isn’t simple to leave a violent relationship, rather a life-changing process that can take months, and even years to break free from. Most victims leave and return several times before they permanently separate from their abusers because of the obstacles faced, such as isolation from family and friends, psychological abuse, financial control, and physically being threatened.

Emotional and circumstantial forces keeping the victim tied to the abuser:

Emotional reasons for staying

  • the belief that the abusive partner will change because of his remorse and promises to stop battering
  • fear of the abuser who threatens to kill the victim if abuse is reported to anyone 
  • lack of emotional support 
  • guilt over the failure of the relationship 
  • attachment to the partner 
  • fear of making major life changes 
  • feeling responsible for the abuse 
  • feeling helpless, hopeless, and trapped
  • the belief that she is the only one who can help the abuser with his problems

Circumstantial reasons for staying

  • economic dependence on the abuser 
  • fear of physical harm to self or children 
  • fear of emotional damage to the children over the loss of a parent, even if that parent is abusive 
  • fear of losing custody of the children because the abuser threatens to take the children if the victim tries to leave
  • lack of job skills 
  • social isolation and lack of support because the abuser is often the victim’s only support system
  • lack of resources
  • the belief that law enforcement will not take her seriously
  • lack of alternative housing 
  • cultural or religious constraints

What Can You Do?

If you know someone who is choosing to stay in an unhealthy relationship, it is crucial you don’t judge them, but be supportive; listen to them, ask how you can help, and understand it can be difficult to leave an abusive relationship.

If you are a victim of domestic violence or abuse, you are not alone. It is not your fault, and you don’t deserve to be treated with abuse. There is a way out and help is available, if you need assistance The Los Alamos Victim Assistant can help you weigh your options. You can reach the victim assistant at 505-663-3511, or text (505)709-8135.  All calls are confidential and you don’t need to file a police report to receive services.

The National Domestic Violence Hotline