Spousal abuse is one thing that many people are still trying to understand. It has many aspects to it that people need to look into.
In order to properly grasp it, you need to understand the different forms of abuse and the ways in which they affect the victims. Abuse can be in the form of physical, emotional, psychological, financial, neglect and any other behaviour that exhibits patterns of controlling, forcing or threatening behaviour.
For many reasons, victims of spousal abuse find it hard to leave their abusive partners. Making that decision to walk away and acting upon it can be difficult. It’s easy to tell them to simply leave without understanding their perspective. It’s easier said than done.
To help you understand why it’s so difficult to leave an abusive partner, we’ve prepared a few reasons why victims of abuse struggle to take that crucial step.
i. Fear of starting over
When someone is accustomed to a certain lifestyle, it’s hard to simply leave everything behind and start over. For them, it feels like they are throwing their whole life away. The fact is that many people manage to recover and rebuild their lives after making the decision to leave an abusive relationship. In fact, they come to realize that it’s the best decision they have ever made.
It’s hard to have the bigger picture in mind when debating whether to stay or leave. They often have the perception that there is nothing better for them out there. For this reason, many victims would choose to stay rather than start over. Many reasons that the devil they know is better than the angel they might meet and thus they opt to stay.
ii. Hope for change
One of the main characteristics of an abused spouse is denial. Most times, it’s hard to believe that the person they love is capable of abusing them. Because of this denial, they tend to keep forgiving them and going back to their abuser even after multiple incidences. They are simply attached to their spouses even after being abused for years. It’s hard for them to understand that no true love involves physical abuse, emotional manipulation or any other forms of abuse.
iii. Religious beliefs
Many victims of abuse struggle to leave marriages because of religious constraints. Some religions forbid divorce with couples being encouraged to stay in the marriage no matter what. While the intention might have been good, i.e. to encourage partners to work through their problems rather than give up at the first sign of trouble, this has created a base for abusive partners to do whatever they want in the name of religion. Victims, on the other hand, believe that they should stick it out to the end no matter what happens.
iv. Financial dependency
Another common reason why victims struggle to leave is financial constraints. While in the relationship, the abusive partner might have been the breadwinner and provider. They might have bought the house they live in and the cars they drive. Financial dependency makes victims persevere abuse out of fear of losing financial support. However, it’s much better to start rebuilding and take risks. No amount of money is worth putting up with an abusive person.
v. Fear of ‘failure’
Many victims avoid leaving abusive relationships fearing that they’ll be called a failure. For men especially, society has a certain expectation. Men are meant to be the rock and head of any relationship. When people start to scrutinize the reasons as to why a relationship ended, society might look at the man as weak. This is why for many victims, leaving an abusive relationship isn’t an option to them.
Children are often one of the main reasons why victims won’t leave an abusive relationship. There is a fear of breaking up the family as well as the fear of single parenting. Abusers can also use the kids to manipulate the victims into staying in the relationship. Many victims would prefer to preserve the family no matter what. However, spousal abuse affects children more, so staying in this type of relationship is very unhealthy.