Domestic Abuse - Obstacles to Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Dr. King

by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

We hear a lot about leaving an abusive relationship. Those on the outside say you must. Those on the inside know they ultimately will. And those responsible for the abuse say you can’t, shouldn’t and better not or else!

What are the real obstacles to leaving an abusive relationship? What obstacles prevent people from leaving their abusive relationships?


Unrealistic Hopes...


Unrealistic hopes, dreams, roles and perceived love prevent survivors from ending their abusive relationship. All these being supported by the defensive mechanism of denial.


It’s as though the victim is actually in love with the fantasy and truly has the belief that she is the “peace maker” in the family—the glue of the family “till death do us part.”


Insufficient Resources...


The belief that there are insufficient resources entraps people in abusive relationships. It’s as though there is a commitment to this belief. And of course that belief is groomed through the months or years of ongoing isolation.


Granted there are economic considerations. There are residential realities. There are children’s lives. But this false belief is not only self-limiting, it can be paralyzing in abusive relationships.


Realistic Fear...


The third is a very realistic fear that danger will escalate upon departure. And that is very real. This obstacle is numbing. You see the survivor knows that when they leave, there will be a price. It could be their children, their home, their sanity or even their life.


Notice has been given during the course of the relationship that should they leave, there WILL be consequences. And unfortunately more often than not, there are.


In no way does this imply that one ought not leave, rather one must be mindful of what their hesitation is about and map out a plan to overcome the abuser's threats and promises.

For more information about the breaking the cycle of abuse, see Domestic Abuse Dynamics: Breaking the Cycle. Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse. ©2008 Jeanne King, Ph.D.

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© Copyright 2008 Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.

Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.