Domestic Violence Awareness at The University of Michigan
What's this? Escape

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Barriers to Leaving

Why Don't Survivors Just Leave?

Survivors face many barriers when they are making up their minds to leave an abusive relationship.

Survivors may be afraid that:

In most cases, the fear is well founded. Survivors are at increased risk when they are leaving an abusive relationship. Those who have tried to leave may know they are at increased risk of severe violence if they try again. This "separation" violence may include:

Lack of resources

Frequently survivors need a wide variety of resources to successfully leave a batterer. They may have limited resources to provide for themselves and their children, especially if they have been in an abusive relationship for a long time. They may need specialized services or assistance to fully heal from the abuse. The resources that survivors frequently need include:

In some cases, the survivor may be unable to take action due to emotional distress caused by past violence. Abused women or men who spend 24 hours a day 7 days per week figuring out how to survive, may not have the time or emotional strength to figure out how to leave.

Family responsibilities and values

Survivors, like most of the people in our communities, have a strong desire to hold the family together for the sake of children and to fulfill their parental responsibilities. These beliefs and responsibilities can sometimes make it hard for survivors to separate from an abusive partner. In addition, other family members or friends may put pressure on the survivor to stay in the relationship. The specific beliefs that survivors may hold include:

Feelings and beliefs

Survivors may have other deep feelings and beliefs that may keep them with their batterers. These may include the following:

What might happen when the abused person leaves?

Leaving an abusive relationship is a different experience for each person.