Barriers restraining victims-survivors from leaving an abusive relationship

When talking of domestic violence against women, often what comes to peoples' minds are: 'Why does she stay?' or 'why does she not leave?' it is easy to say, but in reality, it is not that easy to do, particularly for those living in such relationships. Those questions stem from a general misunderstanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and are an explicit example of how people tend to blame the victim-survivor instead of the abuser! The most important thing to keep in mind is that a woman does not remain in a violent relationship because 'she wants it' or because 'she wants to be abused' but because of economic, situational, personal and emotional barriers that restrain her from leaving. Indeed, the nature of domestic abuse, traps the victims-survivors in this cycle of violence. Some of these barriers are:

  • Lack of financial means and affordable housing for women leaving alone
  • Family or religious or immediate network pressures
  • Fear of loneliness
  • Fear of violent reprisal
  • Denial: Sometimes the victim-survivor persuades herself that she is not living in an abusive relationship and even may deny the impact of the abuse
  • Minimisation: The victim-survivor minimises the very existence and nature of the abuse
  • Belief that the relationship will improve
  • Loyalty to the family
  • Limited access to resources, training and education for women
  • Gender-specific socialisation
  • 'Blaming the victim syndrome'
  • Fear of social stigma
  • Low levels of literacy among women