Barriers To Leaving Your Marriage
Dorchen A. Leidholdt
Why doesn’t she just leave?
Even under the best of circumstances, leaving a relationship is difficult. Violent relationships are complex, and victims in these relationships are faced with many barriers to leaving. These can include:
Safety Fear that the abuser will find her and kill/harm her, the children or other family members.
Coercion Abuser threatens to take the children away if victim leaves.
Guilt Abuser convinces victim that the abuse is her fault, she is to blame.
Economic dependence Few choices and support for living independently.
Shame Does not want anyone to know.
Low Self-Esteem She believes that she deserves the abuse and will never find anyone better.
Parenting Wanting to co-parent for the children.
Love Victim loves the abuser and at times the abuser is loving and lovable.
Religious/cultural pressure To keep the family together.
Lack of support Pressure from family and friends to stay.
Fear of being alone Having to cope with her loneliness and being alone with the children.
Loyalty Victim is committed to staying with abuser.
Misplaced pity for abuser Women are socialized to put others’ needs before their own.
Rescue complex If she stays, she can save him.
Fear of partner’s suicidal threats Abuser threatens to commit suicide if victim leaves.
Denial “It’s not really that bad.”
Sex role socialization “This is just the way men are.”
Hope “Things will get better.”
Chemical dependency If victim uses drugs or alcohol as a means of coping with the abuse, victim may be less clear or strong.
Immigration status Lack of immigration status or fear of deportation
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