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Domestic Violence and Divorce: Why Do Some Spouses Choose to Stay in Abusive Marriages?

Posted on in Domestic Violence

abusive marriage, illinois divorce attorneys, kane countyAttempting to understand why some spouses choose to remain in abusive relationships is never easy. An overwhelming number of married partners find themselves with the need to seek out domestic violence protection and pursue a divorce, often after they have endured months or even years of physical and emotional abuse. The reality is that the reasons behind someone’s drive to stay with a physically or verbally violent partner is extremely multifaceted. Time Magazine reports multiple studies that reveal individuals stay with their abusers usually for more than one reason, further emphasizing the fact that there is never a single, simple answer for why someone remains in an abusive environment.

Why Victims Stay

The statistics surrounding abusive relationships are alarming: one in four women experience domestic abuse at some point in their lifetime. Only one-fifth of all rapes are reported to the police, and only one-quarter of all physical assaults are reported. Domestic abuse is considered one of the most underreported crimes across the board, and yet many of the partners who make up these statistics stay put. Here are some of the most common reasons victims opt to avoid divorce and instead choose to remain in an abusive marriage:

1. Sense of powerlessness. Research shows that abusers are naturally drawn to those who already feel powerless in some area of their life. The abuser seduces the victim by building them up first, boosting their self-esteem, introducing flattery before presenting the abuse. By the time the violence is introduced, the victim feels especially powerless, and in many cases, has already accepted the behavior, as it was subtly integrated over time. This can make the idea of leaving the relationship incredibly anxiety inducing, and downright scary for the victim who questions their worth without their partner.

2. Fear of lost resources. Psychological abuse often includes the withholding of resources, such as money, medicine, transportation, or healthcare. Abusers will often threaten to cut their partner off from necessities they need to survive or follow through with the threat suddenly, to exert power and control. This can be very scary for parents who are afraid they will be able to care for their children or pets if their resources are cut off. Abusers also isolate their victims from the friends and family who make up their support system, another valuable resource.

3. True love. It is a hard pill to swallow for many outsiders looking in, but nearly every victim that documents why they stay in an abusive relationship reports they do so because they love their partner. Experts from Psychology Today tell us that victims are focused on the positive traits in their partners - likely the same traits that caused them to fall in love to begin with. Experts from Time reiterate this concept, saying staying with an abusive partner you love is akin to a gambling addiction, where you are focused on the next win, the next positive, causing you to stay still and wait. A victim’s love for their abusive partner is no less real or no less valid, and it is often a very big, significant factor that plays a role in the victim choosing to stay in an abusive marriage.

Get the Help You Need Today

If you are concerned about the safety of you and your family and are ready to pursue an order of protection in response to your spouse’s threats, speak with a knowledgeable Kane County domestic violence protection attorney. Our firm can offer the compassion, legal resources, and representation you need to move forward and protect yourself. Call the Goostree Law Group today at 630-584-4800 for a free personal consultation.


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