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Why Do Abuse Victims Stay?

* I generally write using the pronouns he/him when referring to narcissists, but females are just as likely to be narcissists or exhibit narcissistic traits. So please don't think just because article uses the word him or he that it could not be a woman in that same role.

From an outside perspective, it can be very easy to look at somebody who is in an abusive relationship and wonder why they don’t just leave. So, Why Do Abuse Victims Stay?

It is incredibly naïve to think this, something that only someone on the outside could think.

Why Do Abuse Victims Stay

There are lots of reasons why victims of domestic relationships do not, and can not leave their abuser.

They do not stay because they enjoy being abused. They stay because of the multiple reasons that make them feel like they cannot leave.

Often these reasons are real and compelling, but they are something that you simply cannot understand unless you are in that relationship.

But to shed some light on the situation, in this guide, I will look at some of the main reasons why abuse victims stay in abusive relationships.

Keep on reading to find out more!

Why Do Abuse Victims Stay?


Abusive relationships where children are involved are very different to abusive relationships where there are no children.

Sharing children with your abuser can cause you to feel like you need to stay in that relationship in many different ways.

Many people who share children with their abuser feel like they cannot leave that person because of the fear of being a single parent.

Being a single parent can be difficult in the best of situations, but when you are coming out of an abusive relationship, the pressure of this can be unbearable.

When children are involved, this also gives the abuser more leverage in the relationship.

They may threaten to take the kids away from the victim if the victim leaves. This is often enough to convince them to stay.

Love And False Promises

False promises are also a method that abusers use to prevent their victims from leaving the relationship.

Most people end up in a relationship with their abuser because they loved them at some point. Those feelings do not simply leave when they start abusing you.

When you love somebody, it is very easy to fall for anything that they tell you. Even if it is obvious that they are lying. You want to believe them, so you do.

That is why so many victims of abuse do not leave their relationship because their abuser has given false promises of reform.

Ultimately they do not keep these promises, and the abuse continues.


Guilt is another emotion that can cause victims to remain in abusive relationships.

Victims may choose not to leave because they believe the person is sick and not at fault for their actions.

The guilt associated with this might lead to them staying in the relationship.

Abusers may also play on this guilt and the good nature of their victims.

They may emphasize that the victim is the only person who hasn’t left them so the victim will stay in the relationship out of guilt.

Likewise, they may suggest that they will harm themselves if their victim leaves them. The victim could not deal with this guilt, so they stayed.

Why Do Abuse Victims Stay


The guilt that I mentioned is closely linked with control, which is another major reason why victims do not leave.

The control that their abuser has over them might make them feel like they can’t leave the relationship. Still, they may also choose to stay because they feel like they have more control in the relationship rather than out of the relationship.

When you are the victim of domestic abuse, you get to know your abuser incredibly well.

You know the things that trigger them, you know the signs that they are in a bad mood, and you learn how to act to avoid angering them.

Knowing these things can almost make you feel safer in the relationship than out of the relationship because outside the relationship is unknown.

In an abusive relationship, you can lose your sense of self due to the other person’s control over you.

This alone may make you feel like you cannot leave that relationship.

Poor Self-Esteem

Losing your self-esteem may make you feel like you cannot leave an abusive relationship in the same way that losing your sense of self can.

When you have poor self-esteem, you may feel like you deserve the abuse, even though nobody deserves that.

When you have a very low value of your worth, you might not believe that you deserve any better than the relationship that you are currently in. So you stay where you are.


I’ve mentioned fear several times so far, which often contributes to people staying in abusive relationships.

Ultimately, most people who are being abused stay in these relationships because the fear of leaving is greater than the fear of staying.

This often comes back to the fear of the unknown I spoke about earlier.

In addition to this, abusers may capitalize on this fear to get their victims to stay in that relationship.

They may threaten violence against the victim or the victim’s family to make them stay. This fear will make the victim feel like they cannot leave.


Finally, a contributing factor that might make victims feel like they have to stay in abusive relationships is money. In modern society, you need money to do pretty much anything.

When you are in an abusive relationship, you often do not have control over your own finances, so you might not have any money to take with you if you leave that relationship. So, instead you just stay where you are.


In short, many different reasons may cause a victim of abuse to feel like they cannot leave that relationship.

Often, multiple reasons may be at play at once, making that person feel like they cannot survive outside that relationship. More often than not, fear will play a big part in this.

Emergency Numbers

Rape Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) is the nation’s largest organization fighting sexual violence: (800) 656-HOPE / (800) 810-7440 (TTY)

988 Mental Health Emergency Hotline: Calling 988 will connect you to a crisis counselor regardless of where you are in the United States.

911 Emergency

The National Runaway Safeline: 800-RUNAWAY (800-786-2929)

Self Abuse Finally Ends (S.A.F.E)

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Trauma & Child Abuse Resource Center

Domestic Violence Shelters & Resources

Futures Without Violence

National Center for Victims of Crime

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Network to End Domestic Violence

National Sexual Violence Resource Center

Prevent Child Abuse America

Stalking Prevention, Awareness, and Resource Center (SPARC)

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine: 1-800-950-NAMI, or text “HELPLINE” to 62640. Both services are available between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. ET, Monday–Friday

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255); www.suicidepreventionlifeline.orgOr, just dial 988

Suicide Prevention, Awareness, and Support: www.suicide.org

Crisis Text Line: Text REASON to 741741 (free, confidential and 24/7). In English and Spanish

Self-Harm Hotline: 1-800-DONT CUT (1-800-366-8288)

Family Violence Helpline: 1-800-996-6228

American Association of Poison Control Centers: 1-800-222-1222

National Council on Alcoholism & Drug Dependency: 1-800-622-2255

LGBTQ Hotline: 1-888-843-4564

National Maternal Mental Health Hotline: 1-833-TLC-MAMA (1-833-852-6262)

The Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386 or text “START” to 678678. Standard text messaging rates apply. Available 24/7/365. (Provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning—LGBTQ—young people under 25.)

The SAGE LGBT Elder Hotline connects LGBT older people and caretakers with friendly responders. 1-877-360-LGBT (5428)

The Trans Lifeline is staffed by transgender people for transgender people:
1-877-565-8860 (United States)
1-877-330-6366 (Canada)

Veterans Crisis Line: https://www.veteranscrisisline.net

International Suicide Prevention Directory: findahelpline.com

The StrongHearts Native Helpline is a confidential and anonymous culturally appropriate domestic violence and dating violence helpline for Native Americans, available every day from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. CT. Call 1-844-762-8483.

‘Find a Therapist’ Online Directories


UK & Republic of Ireland

  • Emergency: 112 or 999
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 90 90 (UK – local rate)
  • Hotline: +44 (0) 8457 90 91 92 (UK minicom)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 90 (ROI – local rate)
  • Hotline: 1850 60 90 91 (ROI minicom)
  • YourLifeCounts.org: https://yourlifecounts.org/find-help/

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