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Why Do Women Stay?

The following is from a paper entitled Reasons Women Might Remain in a Violent Relationship by Dr. Irene Frieze, 1978. We have modified the order of factors but the content is the same.

Situational Factors:

1. Financial dependence on her abuser so that she will have difficulty finding a place to go. This is a special problem if combined with other reasons below.

2. Lack of social support so that she has no friends or family who can or will help her physically leave and/or deal with attitudinal barriers.

3. Lack of support from societal institutions. Until the institution of Women's Centers, there was frequently no social agency which would help the battered woman.

4. Fear of more severe physical attack from her abuser if she tries to leave or of harm to her children. He may create these feelings through direct threats.

Attitudinal Factors:

5. Belief that she is the cause of the violence. Her abuser is punishing her for her inability to act properly. Such beliefs also imply that leaving one relationship would be useless since a new man would also tend to physically abuse her.

6. Belief that the violence is temporary and/or caused by unusual circumstances. Hope that the violence will soon stop. This is especially likely after only one or two violence incidents.

7. Belief that she should understand her attacker and help him to stop his violence. This would be part of the wifely role. Her inability to help him may indicate to her that she is failing in her role.

8. Belief that all men are violent. This is reinforced by growing up in a culture in which physical aggressiveness is considered manly. It may come from being raised by violent parents.

9. Feelings of personal incompetence where she feels that she needs her man, even though he is violent, to get by in the world. Such feelings might be especially strong if combined with #6 or #7.

Of course any of these factors, when combined, make the obstacles to leaving even greater. These factors listed above are the major and most common factors, yet reasons for staying are probably as varied as relationship themselves. One question we need to ask next is WHY DO MEN BATTER?