Those who are not in abusive relationships often wonder why people who are being victimized by domestic violence don't just leave. Unless they're not being physically restrained, why not just take the next bus out of town?
The situation is very complex. Part of the confusion from those who have never been in this situation just comes back to their lack of experience and failure to understand those complexities.
For instance, you can never forget that many victims actually love their abusers. Of course they don't like the abuse, but those who are married got married for a reason. They don't just want to turn their back on that. They're invested and they may always hope they can help the person, rather than just leaving.
Others feel that they don't have anywhere else to turn. Where will they live? Who will support them? Even an abusive relationship may sound better than being alone and homeless.
In particular, the economic dependence can be a huge issue. Domestic violence may also be tied to financial abuse, and the victim may have no access to the family's money. The victim may feel like leaving isn't a realistic option, no matter how bad things get, with no other way to pay rent, buy food, or take care of other necessities.
Finally, some abusers will threaten even worse abuse if the person tries to leave. The victim may realistically fear for his or her life and not want to take that risk.
As you can see, leaving is often very complicated, and these are just a few of the big issues victims face. It's very important for them to know that they do have legal options, such as protective orders and divorce.
Source: New Choices INC, "Why Doesn't She Just Leave?," accessed May 12, 2017