In a position I held many years ago I worked with a newly-formed domestic violence unit of a county prosecutor’s office. One of my assignments was to locate the victims of domestic abuse and facilitate their appearance in court as a witness against their abuser. I continually found this to be challenging because many of the victims were still in the relationship and no longer wanted to pursue the case, regardless of the physical and psychological damage inflicted on them. Even women that had been nearly killed. I was shocked. I didn’t understand at the time why anyone would stay with someone who was mistreating them. It seemed like a no-brainer to get as far away from them as possible.
What I came to realize was – it is a lot more complicated. I recently read this article with much interest:
It does a nice job of explaining the reasons that men and women tend to stay in unhealthy and even dangerous situations. I believe the main reason is fear. Not just from a safety aspect, although that is a big reason, but also the fear of all the related consequences of ending the relationship. It is human nature to fear the unknown that change brings. There may be financial challenges. They may feel embarrassment or shame. Many may feel trapped with nowhere else to go.
It is important to understand that leaving unhealthy relationship is hard. We should never blame the victim. The best thing to do is to provide support and compassion, and point them to the resources they need. For teenagers and their parents, Kaity’s Way can help. Check out our website for advice and resources.