It’s the question I’m asked most often when talk about my work, Why does any woman or man stay in an abusive relationship?” My answer varies depending on the discussion:

  •  Sometimes I talk about how insidious the process is; a person may not realize he/she is in an abusive relationship until they are truly trapped.
  • Sometimes I talk about how they feel this is the safer alternative; if they were to leave, they fear the abuse would escalate to murder (often the abuser has promised them this will happen.)
  • Sometimes I talk about how they truly love this person. They don’t wish to leave their partner…just for the abuse to end.
  • Sometimes I talk about how they are protecting children, family or loved ones from becoming the targets of the abuse.
  • Sometimes I talk about shame and the victim’s belief that they are the only one experiencing such horrors in a ‘loving relationship’, and
  • Sometimes I talk about how very difficult it is to totally break free, especially if there are children in common and the court will require visitation agreements that keep the victim in regular contact with the abuser.

It’s an simple question, “Why doesn’t she or he leave?” I don’t have a simple answer. But today I
viewed one of the most articulate and compelling discussions about why it’s so hard for a domestic violence victim to leave the abusive relationship. Leslie Morgan Steiner, a domestic violence survivor, told her story. If you’ve ever wondered how or why someone stays in an abusive relationship, take just 15 minutes and watch this video. It will forever answer that question for you.

At the end of the video Ms. Steiner challenges each of us, not just those personally affected,  to take action to end abuse… and tells us how to do it. It’s worth watching!