• Claire Verney

Why Doesn't She Leave?

This is the most common question that we hear from people when discussing domestic violence and abuse. This post will give you the most common reasons why some victims find it so difficult to leave.

We often look at victims of domestic abuse and rather than supporting them so they feel able to leave, we blame them or become frustrated with them. By understanding the many barriers that stand in the way of a woman leaving an abusive relationship we can begin to support them better and allow them to make the best decision for them. Here are just a few of the reasons that prevent a woman from leaving:

1. Danger - The most common reason is that women fear danger should they leave, and this is with good reason. Studies have shown that there is a huge rise in the likelihood of violence after separation. 76% of women who have separated from abusive partners suffer post-separation abuse, and 55% of the women killed by their ex-partner or ex-spouse in 2017 were killed within the first month of separation and 87% in the first year.

2. Fear - As well as fearing what the abuser will do, they may also fear the unknown - what will happen with the house/money/job/the children's school and friends or how will they cope alone.

3. Anger - She may feel angry that his actions may force her to make so many changes to her and the children's lives, thinking - why should I leave because of him?

4. Guilt and denial - She may feel sorry for him, blaming herself, his past or alcohol etc for his behaviour. She may also feel bad for separating him from his children and minimise how bad his behaviour is.

5. Attachment - This is a very strong psychological reason why women don't leave She may focus on the good times, still love him and be invested in the relationship so that the years they've had together are not 'wasted'.

6. Housing - Last year 64% of refuge referrals were declined. This means that a significant number of women fleeing domestic abuse last year had nowhere to go, leaving them with a choice of either staying with her abuser or being made homeless.

7. Finance - She may depend on him for finance or have no money to get away. Abusers will often use finances to control their victim, meaning they either are told they cannot work, or if they do they must hand over their salary.

8. Support - The nature of domestic abuse means that the victim will often be isolated from her support network of friends and family so that she is alone and totally dependent upon him. Years of abuse, both physical and emotional, will shatter her self esteem and leave her feeling powerless, confused, depressed, unimportant, undeserving and worthless.

9. Pressure - She may feel cultural or family pressure to stay in the relationship. She may also feel that her religious beliefs mean she cannot leave and divorce him.

10. Threats - He may threaten to hurt her, the children, or pets, if she leaves. He may also threaten to kill or harm himself if she does leave.

How can I help someone living with domestic abuse?

  • Listen without judgement and without telling her what to do.

  • Talk through the options and provide her with support, reassurance and information.

  • Whatever her decision encourage her to have a safety plan in place.

To find out how you can help someone living with abuse who is isolated with her abuser please visit our post https://www.dvact.org/post/how-can-you-help-someone-living-with-domestic-violence-and-abuse.


If you think it would be helpful to know more about helping someone who is living with domestic abuse please contact us with suggestions for further blog posts, or for more information you can visit the following sites: Refuge Covid 19 Response - https://www.refuge.org.uk/refuge-responds-to-covid-19/ UK government, how to get help - https://www.gov.uk/guidance/domestic-abuse-how-to-get-help Womens Aid Coronavirus safety advice for survivors - https://www.womensaid.org.uk/covid-19-coronavirus-safety-advice-for-survivors/ Bystander awareness - http://communitiesinc.org.uk/ourwork/nbad/ NSPCC - https://www.nspcc.org.uk/what-you-can-do/ Online community support - With Abuse Talk you can join the discussion on domestic abuse through a weekly Twitter Chat every Wednesday 8-9pm GMT www.twitter.com/abusetalkonline there is also a forum https://jennifergilmour.com/community/ which is available 24/7 and even houses a solicitor who will answer questions and queries for no charge, and a podcast which delivers a series of interviews with those that work in the domestic abuse sector. Available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and more.


National Domestic Violence Helpline – 0808 2000 247 The Men’s Advice Line, for male domestic abuse survivors – 0808 801 0327 Respect phoneline for perpetrators of domestic abuse - 0808 8024040 Childline - 0800 1111 The Mix, free information and support for under 25s in the UK – 0808 808 4994 National LGBT+ Domestic Abuse Helpline – 0800 999 5428 Samaritans (24/7 service) – 116 123 Call the UK police non-emergency number, 101, if you need support or advice from the police and it's not an emergency.

About Us

DV-ACT are a team of domestic abuse experts, available throughout the UK, who provide assessments, consultancy and training to local authorities and the family courts. Our experts have decades of experience working directly with domestic abuse perpetrators and victims, as specialist assessors and as expert witnesses to court. DV-ACT was formed with the aim of using our expertise to help safeguard children from abuse, this is at the heart of everything that we do.