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Abusive Relationships: Why Don’t They Just Leave?

BY IN Domestic Violence

It sometimes is not that easy to leave an abusive relationship

Domestic violence victims, or more precisely referred to as Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) victims, nearly always report that when they met, they thought that their partner was attentive, caring and basically the nicest date they’d ever had. It isn’t that the victim was wrong or blinded by their date’s niceness.  The partner was truly nice and caring.  The abuse starts slowly.  The first time that the physical violence starts, the abuser can provide an explanation and excuse.  There was a very heated fight; they (the abuser) had a lot to drink and “it will never happen again”. But it does happen again.

Often physical abuse goes hand in hand with emotional and financial abuse.  In our family law practice, we often see that the abuser pushed for the victim to be a full-time caretaker for the children, and if the abuser controls the finances, the victim is without financial resources to get out.

Even if the victim would consider moving out, he or she is filled with fear that the abuser will receive parenting time with the children.  Even worse, the abuser often threatens that he or she will use all financial resources to get custody of the children. “I have a house and a job, and you made up the abuse allegations because you are mentally ill so I’ll get custody; you will be lucky if you ever see the kids”.

There are often secondary reasons why victims of emotional, sexual, or physical abuse do not leave the relationship.  If they did not have low self esteem before the relationship, their self esteem will erode during the abusive relationship; some victims stay in the relationship due to immigration issues or language barriers. Sometimes the victim is dependent on the abusers due to a physical disability. 

Many victims do not have a strong familial support system in place.  Sometimes they never had the parental support; sometimes it (further) diminishes due to the abuser’s demands such as a move to a new geographical area away from the family and the support system.

With minor children involved, some victims reason that it’s better to take the occasional beating and keep the children in the same home and school, rather than end up in a shelter with an unknown future. Fear for the unknown can be debilitating.

Research shows that children as young as one year old can display distress due to verbal conflict between the parents.  Children’s witness of severe abuse is associated with behavioral problems, alcoholism and drug use and children even may become abusers as well.  Just growing up with a parent who is being abused will impact a child:  when the victimized parent is depressed, it is difficult to parent appropriately; victims of abuse have trouble being warm and loving to their children which the study associated with greater dysfunction for the children.

At Kraayeveld Law, we often help men and women who are in abusive relationships. If possible, we’d like to meet with you before you move out of the home so that we can plan an exit strategy which first and foremost safeguards your and the children’s safety. We’ll discuss what you may expect regarding custody of the children and parenting time because knowing what to expect will alleviate some stress.  Additionally, we create a financial plan, including child support and spousal support options. 

Sometimes, victims of abuse do not have the luxury of planning their exit strategy.  Police becomes involved, the abuser is arrested and removed from the house.  When our clients call us in such a situation, we’d like to meet as soon as possible to ensure that we obtain an order that provides you with custody of the children and safeguards your assets.

If you are considering leaving an abusive relationship, contact the attorneys at Kraayeveld Law at (616) 285-0808 so that we can work with you create a safety plan for your future.