Why do people stay in abusive relationships?

From the outside, leaving a violent relationship may seem like a simple solution. But there are many reasons that keep people in relationships with someone who abuses them, including:

  • Fearing the violence could get worse if they try to leave 
  • Relying financially on the person who is abusing them 
  • Feeling like they have nowhere to go
  • Loving and caring for the abuser
  • Hoping that the situation may improve
  • Relying on the abuser for physical or emotional care and support

Abused people are not weak, submissive victims. It takes huge strength to live with an abusive partner. People have to be strong and resourceful, adopting all kinds of coping strategies to survive each day.

Finding the strength to leave an abusive relationship can be very hard. We are here to help.

What sort of person commits family violence?


There is no one personality type that typifies an abuser. Outwardly to friends and colleagues they can seem like the nicest people. That said, abusers tend to share some or all of the following traits:

  • Low self-esteem. Even if the person is professionally and outwardly successful, abusers often have a deep-seated sense of powerlessness and inadequacy
  • Between bouts of intimate-partner or family abuse, the abuser can often be completely the opposite: charming, loving and warm
  • An abuser will often be in denial about the seriousness and severity of the abuse they direct towards their partner and children
  • An abuser often feels a sense of ownership of those being abused; they see their victims as property; something they own
  • An abuser rarely takes ownership for the violence and abuse they display. Instead, an abuser will typically blame external circumstances for the way they behave – it’s not their fault.

What are the signs I’m in a relationship with an abuser?


Some or all of the following traits are commonly seen in those who practice family violence:

  • Intensely trying to control the lives of their victims
  • Subjecting their victims to public humiliation and shame
  • Intense levels of jealousy and possessiveness
  • Unpredictability
  • Threatening suicide if the victim leaves them
  • Destroying the victim’s belongings
  • Forcing their partner to have sex
  • Keeping their victims from their friends and family
  • Constantly checking up on what their victims are doing and who they’re doing it with
  • Controlling access to their victims finances and possessions
  • Threats to “out” you to family or friends – in rainbow diverse relationships
  • Blaming the victim for their behaviour: “You made me do this, it’s your fault”
  • Various types of cruelty to animals or children
  • Outdated gender roles in the relationship; the victim is expected to stay at home and serve the needs of the abuser
  • Very thin-skinned and hypersensitive to criticism; easily insulted
  • Threats of violence that are quickly apologised for
  • Sudden, unpredictable mood swings
  • Controlling what the victim wears and how they act.