Abusive Relationships: Why Stay in the Relationship and What Determines Leaving?

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Abusive Relationships: Why stay in the relationship and what determines leaving?

It is often asked why a woman doesn’t leave an abusive relationship. Society tends to assume that the decision is as simple as a normal break-up, if not easier because there is an obvious reason to leave. But there are many factors involved into the relationship and many things to consider when making the decision to stay or to leave. In abusive relationships, what determines staying and what determines leave?

It is estimated that annually 3 million occurrences of domestic violence occur and that one in four women will become a victim of such violence. Of those victims, more than four people are killed daily as a result of domestic violence (DVRC). With abuse possibly escalating to a point of death, why would a spouse stay in a relationship?

Conclusions have been drawn as to why a woman might stay in the relationship, including internal and external resources. The external resources would include such things as an income, social support, housing etc. Internal resources would include a person’s self-esteem, mental health status, whether they suffer from depression or anxiety.

Pamela Choice and Leanne Lamke stated that different theories needed to be taken into consideration when observing a women’s decision to stay or leave. The theories included learned helplessness, psychological entrapment, the investment model and reasoned action or planned behavior. Learned helpless is a situation where the victim feels she had no other options, that not matter what she does the situation will remain the same. Psychological entrapment is where a women tries to make the relationship a nonviolent one, but instead the violence continues causing her to feel that she should have tried harder. This situation often leaves the woman feeling that a nonviolent relationship is attainable and questioning if it is worth the investment, and if so, she then feels that there is too much invested...
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