The Apprehended Fear

Reasons why it may be so hard to leave

  • She is afraid of what the abuser will do if she leaves. The person who is abusive may have threatened to harm her, her relatives, or the children, pets or property. They may threaten to commit suicide if she talks about leaving. Many victims find that the abuse continues or gets worse after they leave.
  • She still loves her partner, because he or she is not abusive all of the time.
  • She has a commitment to the relationship or a belief that marriage is forever, for ‘better or worse’.
  • She hopes her partner will change. Sometimes the abusive person might promise to change. She might think that if the abuser stops drinking, the abuse will stop.
  • She thinks the abuse is her fault.
  • She feels she should stay ‘for the sake of the children’, and that it is best that children live with both parents. Her partner may have threatened to take or harm the children.
  • A lack of confidence. The person who is abusive will have deliberately tried to break down their partner’s confidence, and make her feel like she is stupid, hopeless, and responsible for the abuse. She may feel powerless and unable to make decisions.
  • Isolation and loneliness. The person who is abusive may have tried to cut her off from contact with family or friends. She might be afraid of coping on her own. If English is not her first language she might feel particularly isolated.
  • Pressure to stay from family, her community or church. She might fear rejection from her community or family if she leaves.
  • She may feel that she can’t get away from her partner because they live in a rural area, or because they have the same friends, or are part of the same ethnic, Aboriginal or religious community.
  • She doesn’t have the means to survive if the relationship ends. She might not have anywhere to live, or access to money, or transport, particularly if she lives in an isolated area. She may be dependent upon her partner’s income. If she has a disability, she may depend upon the abuser for assistance.

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