Barriers to leaving 36 (Lewi-4113)Barriers to leaving

It takes a great deal of courage to leave someone who controls and intimidates you. Women often attempt to leave several times before making the final break.

Remember, leaving an abusive partner can be very dangerous. Women are at the greatest risk of homicide at the point of separation or after leaving a violent partner.

It is important that you plan your departure safely. If you are planning to leave an abusive partner, read our planning to leave page.

Alternatively, call the Freephone 24 Hour National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247 to talk through your options or to find a space in a refuge.

The truth is that there are many practical and psychological barriers to ending a relationship with a violent partner. Here are just some:

Safety: the woman may be fearful of what the abuser will do to her and the children if they leave or attempt to leave

Lack of self-confidence: the woman may believe that it is her fault and that she deserves the abuse, and may fear she would never find anyone else if she left

Denial: she convinces herself that “it’s not that bad”

Shame: she is embarrassed about people finding out

Guilt: the abuser makes her believe that she is to blame for his actions

Financial dependence: the woman may not be able to support herself and her children independently. See our page about financial abuse here

Loyalty: she may be loyal to the abuser regardless of his actions

Hope: she believes that things will improve with time. She believes she can make him change

Lack of support: she doesn’t know to whom to turn

Pressure: family and friends pressurise her to stay and ‘make it work’

Religious/community beliefs: she is under pressure not to break up the family

Love: despite the abuse, she still loves him

Jekyll and Hyde: the abuser switches between charm and rage; the woman thinks, ‘He’s not always like this’

Intimidation: the abuser threatens to take the children or pets away

Gender roles: she might normalise his behaviour because he’s a man – ‘that’s how men are’. She may believe it’s the woman’s role to put the needs of others first

Immigration: if the woman has insecure immigration status, she may fear being deported