Why Domestically Abused Victims Stay with their Partners

A Study on the Reasons Why Domestically Abused Victims Stay with their Partners

  • Introduction

Victims of intimate partner violence are often blamed for staying in abusive relationships. In essence, victims may provide various reasons rationalizing why they stay. As noted by Eckstein (2011), for partners, both male and female, who stay in violent and abusive relationships, the personal implication of violence may be worsened by the identity threats they experience from others. Together with coping with the trauma of abuse, individuals whose victimization is revealed to others may suffer stigma, questions, and other reactions that accompany disclosure. Disclosure of abuse can either intentional or unintentional, and there is a general misconception that people can leave abusive relationships, as evident in cases of many victims of intimate partner violence who choose to stay despite the harsh treatment (Murray, Crowe & Flasch, 2015).

The process of leaving an abusive relationship has been described as being a prolonged and difficult course, and this explains why abused spouses often return to the relationship (Anderson and Saunders, 2003). Leaving an abusive relationship begins with a decision to engage and plan for behavioral change. The abused partner must feel ready for, or certain about the decision to leave. This has significant implications in terms of facilitating implications for risk assessment and examining how the change takes place to finally prompt an abused person to leave a relationship. Research in the field is focused on the contemplation that the individual undergoes to finally make the decision to leave the relationship (Anitha, 2008).

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Domestic violence has been considered as a broad concept that incorporates various forms of physical violence, sexual violence, and a range of coercive, intimidating, and controlling behaviors. It is damaging, physically, socially, and psychologically. Intimate partner violence takes place among couples, whether married or cohabiting and even though it mostly talks place in the context of the home, it can spill over to external places outside the home (McNeil & Maruna, 2007). It incorporates any incidences of threatening behavior, violence or abuse that occurs between partners in intimate relationships regardless of gender. Whereas intimate partner violence affects both men and women, women have been categorized as the most affected.

To a great extent, it is women who are subjected to the highest level of abuse, mostly because men have economic control and material deprivation (Harne, 2008). Besides, the masculinity dominance that is experienced across most societies gives men power and control over their female counterparts, and most women in abusive relationships submit to such kind of treatment because men are perceived as the most dominant. In some societies, the cultural context can influence the perpetuation of domestic violence. For example, in Pakistan, men are empowered to have control over women. Thus women who show any form of defiance are subjected to abuse (McNeil & Maruna, 2007). In some incidences, the abuse is so prevalent that many victims succumb to the injuries inflicted on them as a result of domestic violence.

Researchers have conducted an extensive examination of male and female victimization and the reasons which victims give for staying in abusive relationships (e.g., Eckstein, 2011). Nonetheless, not many studies have comparatively outlined the specific reasons for remaining in abusive relationships, and how these reasons are linked to the way the person communicate about their identity to self and others. The study is an analysis of literature on documented studies that have examined the reasons why people stay in abusive relationships. The approach facilitates a more comprehensive understanding of intimate partner violence and the reasons for persevering in these relationships. The study addresses a gap in the literature by exploring victim’s communication on reasons why they stay in abusive relationships. The research presents a systemic review of literature for self-reported findings of heterosexual intimate partner violence victims to determine the variation of reasons for not reporting abuse among victims.

The systematic review of the literature offers an overview of the most influential scientific literature published on the topic of intimate partner violence. Besides, the overall state of intimate partner violence is assessed, providing insights into the factors that contribute to partners staying in an abusive relationship despite being victims of different forms of abuse. According to Green et al. (2011), mature fields of research are characterized by a study in various topics applying a wide range of methods instead of focusing on just a narrow few. Therefore, the current review focuses on addressed factors that contribute to victims of intimate partner violence staying in abusive relationships alongside the developed methodologies and how they have been applied over time. The review combines literature drawn from an extended duration of time to examine how the issue has changed over time.

To guide the systematic review, the main research question that was formulated is as follows: What are the factors that influence victims of intimate partner violence to stay in abusive relationships?

To comprehensively address the topic of research, three sub-questions that are descriptive  in nature have  been addressed, and one final question is content related:

  1. What factors influence the decision of the victims of domestic violence to stay with the perpetrator of the abuse?
  2. How is leaving an abusive relationship considered as a process?
  3. How is Desistance and the Factors contributing individual to Leave Abusive Relationships?
  4. What are the main subjects dealt with in research on intimate partner violence and how does the person’s situation change over time?
  • Literature Review

Factors that Influence Decision of the Victims of Domestic Violence to Stay with The Perpetrator of the Abuse

Past literature points to a range of factors that may be responsible for the decision of the victims of domestic violence to stay with the perpetrator of the abuse. Nonetheless, there exists a gap in research as not many studies have examined the reasons that influence victims to stay in abusive relationships. As pointed by Adjei (2015), the forces that influence individuals to remain in abusive relationships are an outcome of a myriad of forces that are also influenced by personal situations. Such factors may be social, economic, religious, or their background of abuse may impact victims of the abuse. Social and economic factors related to domestic violence have been subject to much research in the area of domestic violence (Thiara & Gill, 2009; Gill, 2014). Some victims may decide to stay back in the abusive relationship because their personal or material circumstances may not allow them to leave their partners; for example, immigrant women (Burmana & Chantler, 2005; Colucci et al., 2013), or women who belong to low-income families (Anitha, 2008); or women who do not have the educational qualifications or access to financial independence (Anitha, 2008).

The Process of Leaving an Abusive Relationship

Leaving a relationship has been described as a process that takes place over time. Largely, women who are initially abused and leave their abused partners may return to the relationship multiple times before ultimately deciding to leave and never return (Eckstein, 2011). In effect, the notion of staying in an abusive relationship may be a phase that culminates in the final decision of leaving. The decision to stay or leave is often not dichotomous and operates in a cyclical manner for abuse victims. Within different phases of the abusive relationship and the process to leave, victims undergo an internalization and externalization process, whereby that have messages emanating from the self and others on why they should stay or leave. In this effect, self-communication and external communication to the victim to leave an abusive relationship may differ from one individual to another, based on the person’s prevailing situation and personal-identity aspects (Copp et al., 2015).

In research by Kelly and Westmorland (2016), the study established that coercive behavior and continuing patterns of acts of assault, threat, humiliation, and intimidation are used by abusive partners to harm, threaten or frighten their victim. The wide range of coercive and controlling behaviors applied by abusers underpin physical abuse inflicted by a domestic abuse perpetrator and this is symptomatically wide-gendered, whereby women are subjected to increased levels of abuse compared to their male counterparts (Sabri & Ariffin, 2018). The effect of the prevalent inequality in society is that women tend to suffer a great extent of abuse compared to men, as most of the perpetrators of the abuse are men. Despite the argument that intimate violence victims are mostly men, there are arguments to the contrary by some scholars. For example, Dutton and White argue that intimate partner violence is a ‘women issue’, thus men are far less likely to be the victims of patterns of controlling behavior, and will have less difficulty ending abusive relationships.

To facilitate a better understanding of the possible reasons why victims choose to remain in abusive relationships, it is imperative to assess the process of leaving an abusive relationship that progresses from deciding to resist abuse to finally getting out and moving on from the relationship. In their assessment of the relationship between social support and stages of change among survivors of intimate partner violence, Zapor, Wolford-Clevenger, and Johnson (2018) advanced the stages of change model, which is salient for victims of abuse. The specific stages that have been identified in the model include pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action, and maintenance as advanced in the Prochaska and DiClemente’s cycle of change (Freeman & Dolan, 2001).

In the pre-contemplation stage, the victim of abuse does not intend to enact change, whereas, in the contemplation phase, the person notices a problem exists and acknowledgment for change is considered. In the preparation phase, the victim develops a plan to make a change, and in the maintenance stage, the person works towards reinforcing and sustaining the implementation phase. The fact the individual strives to cope with the situation leading to abuse implies that the reasons that prompt a victim to leave an abusive relationship should be strong enough to prompt the person to progress the decision to the last phase, which is action and maintenance as the person work to reinforce and sustain the implemented changes.

When an individual is abused, they do not automatically make the decision to leave the relationship, instead, they would contemplate the change in behavior of the abuser to determine the extent to which they are still demonstrating their aggression towards them. According to Brown et al. (2010), the process of abuse in a relationship is a cycle, which is characterized by a repetitive nature of the perpetrator’s actions that hinders the ability of the abused person to leave an abusive relationship.

The cycle of violence, developed in 1979 by Dr. Leone Walker, has been described as beginning with tension building between the partners, whereby the abuser withholds affection and directs abusive behavior towards the victim. In this effect, the victim responds by attempting to be calm and reason with the abuser, withdraws and avoids confrontation (Morris, 2019). In the next phase, there is an acute explosion, whereby the abuser abuses the victim physically and the victim responds by trying to calm themselves and reason with the abuser to stop the violence. Following the incidence of the acute explosion, the honeymoon phase sets in whereby the abuser apologizes, promising that the abuse will not happen again and the victim considers forgiving the abuser and the parties reconcile, but then tension begins to build up once again and abuse continues.

Anderson and Saunders (2003) argue that the continuous phase of abuse is largely influenced by the repetitive nature of the perp[etrators actions that hinder the ability of a victim to leave an abusive relationship. The dramatic change in the behavior of the perpetrator makes it more difficult for the abused woman to leave, thus the cycle continues and many women continue to persevere despite having suffered prolonged periods of abuse. Indeed, the process of leaving an abusive relationship has been considered as a taking place in phases, and the explored cycle of abuse seems to prevent the person to stay in the relationship following its repetitive nature, whereby most women chose to stay having been convinced that their partners will never abuse them again as demonstrated in the honeymoon phase. During this stage, the victim is assured that the abuse will never take place again, yet the cycle repeats itself as tension builds between the partners (Brown et al., 2010)

Understanding Change in an Abusive Relationship: Leaving Abusive Relationships as a Process

The decision for abused women to engage in a plan for behavioral change, particularly the extent to which an individual feels ready, certain, and committed to the decision has a huge implication in contributing to the process of change. In Zapor et al. (2018), change has been described as beginning with contemplation, whereby the victim of abuse who may have been previously unaware of the challenge of a need for change, begins to consider, with importance, whether they are facing a problem. The abused woman moves on to the phase of determination, whereby they finally reach a decision to change or make a commitment to change and makes a decision to adopt change-directed actions.

The two phases of contemplation and determination are distinct and have been largely examined by psychologists who have explored how these actions take place prior to influencing the person to consider the decision to change. In a study conducted by Sabri and Ariffin (2018), researchers examined the correlation between defense mechanisms and relationships to the change process. In reference to the empirical study, the two phases of change are significantly distinct from each other, both in terms of management of the dynamics surrounding life choices and implications on how the change process takes place.

There are various social cognition research studies that have been undertaken to demonstrate how the change process takes place so that an abused individual moves out of an abusive relationship in the long run (e.g. Reisenhofer et al., 2019; Copp et al., 2015). The justification for the change model that explains how victims leave an abusive relationship has been based on exploring how the possible decisions are contemplated, and the implementation mindset in which the person finally executes the plan. Particularly, Eckstein (2011) argues that people selectively focus on different kinds of stimulus and influences to reach decision certainty about leaving the abusive relationship, Whereas the deliberative process on whether to leave or stay is based on careful and realistic examination of the available information and backup evidence, the attention of the implementation phase shifts away from the doubts and dangers that the person feels about the relationship to focus on the goals and outcomes realized when they leave the relationship. The accuracy in risk assessment of the impending situation facilitates effective decision making for the person to consider making a significant change in their life as they leave an abusive relationship.

The decision certainty of the person to leave an abusive relationship is based on the extent of risk assessment they have conducted and their perception of the situation as negatively impacting on their overall well-being. According to Chapin et al. (2005), an increase in certainty about a decision to embark of change in terms of leaving an abusive relationship commences with an increase in optimism after the person assesses the outcomes of change and whether the decision on whether to leave or not, would increase the probability of relapse in abuse. Gill (2014) argues that in cases whereby individual experiences decreased concern about a possibility of danger had made the decision to leave the relationship, then this may lead to riskier decision choices, whereby the person may consider pursuing other riskier behavioral choices.

Copp (2015), considers such a form of resistance as premature self-efficacy, whereby the victim may perceive the problem as completely resolved, thereby ignoring impending danger in other abusive relationships. As a result, a person leaving an abusive relationship should have optimism about recovery and consider the possibility of re-emergence of abuse, especially when the person is vulnerable. Surviving abuse and making a successful decision to leave may not necessarily imply that the victims of former abuse are completely safe, as there is also a possibility that they will likely end up in another abusive situation.

Desistance and the Factors that Contribute to Individual’s Decision to Leave Abusive Relationships

One of the most remarkable literature addressing why people remain in abusive relationships and the process of leaving has been examined by Shad Maruna and Fergus McNeill, by examining how resistance works, described as why people stop offending. As affirmed by McNeil and Maruna (2007) disadvantaged people such as women who are abused seem to be caught up in a never-ending cycle of abuse. On the other hand, research on crime in the life course presents the notion that people engaged in crime at times successfully overcome criminal behavior and ‘go straight’. On the same note, victims of domestic abuse also successfully overcome abuse and desist from the incidence of abuse. The implications of resistance have been a subject for research for probation and social work practice. As affirmed by Laub and Sampson (2001), by seeking to explore and understand the process through which individuals come to cease offending with or without intervention by criminal enforcement agencies, desistance offers a diverse range of interventions that can be applied in facilitating rehabilitation and recovery of the individuals who have experienced abuse.

The examination of desistance and its impact on rehabilitating criminals and victims of abuse offers a basis for supporting desistance in the long term.

McNeill and Maruna (2007) describe desistance as ceasing and desisting from an activity that stops an individual from doing something and refraining from repeating it again. As a result, individuals who are at one point engaged in a pattern of abusive relationships could be said to desist from abuse when they cease the involvement and importantly, abstain from additional behavior that is deemed to contribute to the abuse in the first place. As affirmed by Anderson and Saunders (2003), the process of leaving an abusive relationship is considered as a long and winding process and begins from the point the person makes a decision to leave to the point they leave and make a decision never to expose themselves to the abusive situation. In the same effect, McNeil and Maruna (2007) also consider desistance as a process or an ongoing work in progress. The tendency of individuals in an abusive relationship to remain in such situations has been attributed to the fact that they are still struggling to overcome the abuse, and the desistance process helps a person effectively overcome a cycle of abuse regardless of having made continued attempts to overcome the challenge.

As posited by McNeil and Manura (2007), desistance is better understood from the perspective of criminal aetiology. When individuals undergo a long cycle of abuse, then this becomes a core aspect of their identity and their overall psychological wellbeing is affected by the cycle of abuse. The two phases of the desistance process include primary and secondary desistance. Mainly, primary desistance takes the form of an abuse-free gap in the life of a person who has been abused. Whereas the person may return back to the cycle of abuse as they strive to leave an abusive relationship., deviation works towards positively influencing the person’s behavior so that they can stay away from abuse. In the secondary deviation phase, deviation becomes incorporated as part of the individual as they strive to stay away from the abusive situation.

The same framework explaining how desistance takes place has also been applied to explain how people successfully undertake the process of leaving an abusive relationship.  Desistance is regarded as the person’s shift from an abusive phase to a phase that is free from abuse and they can be recognized as having become ‘changed individual’. In secondary desistance, the abuse not only stops and the person’s life becomes reorganized as they adopt a new phase in life. In this effect, long-term desistance has been regarded as comprised of identifiable and measurable outcomes, for example, the person having from an abusive situation over a sustained period of time (Anderson and Saunders, 2003).

The clear link between desistance and successfully coming from an abusive relationship is comparable to a biological process, whereby the tendency to stay away from the abusive increases as the victim suffers vases of abuse. In some cases, spontaneous desistance is based on the fact that the change process occurs regardless of the impending situation that the person faces. As affirmed by Anderson and Sanders (2003), the process of leaving an abusive relationship is influenced by the person’s situation and as the individual experiences abuse, the higher they are likely to develop the will and influence to leave. The concept of desistance is based on the view that following the effect of age, criminal behavior becomes a natural process and part of the individual’s life.  To begin the process of overcoming the abusive relationship, the person needs to realize that they have a problem, then convince themselves enough that they have a challenge so that they make the final decision of leaving the relationship.

In some instances, the decision to leave an abusive relationship can be externally influenced, whereby a third party can influence a person to leave the relationship.

The process of desistance is considered as influenced by the commitment of the person to follow the intervening agency or individual to stay away from abuse. The person needs reassurance and affirmation that they will be able to cope with the situation and successfully overcome the abuse. The decision to get out of an abusive relationship may be externally influenced, whereby different agencies give in their intervention to help the person get out of the abusive situation. Again, this could also be considered as a dynamic process, which commences from the point that the abusive situation is identified until the victim of abuse is helped to overcome the situation successfully. As affirmed is the concept of desistance, once the person has been helped to overcome the situation the third party also helps the person stay away from entering into another abusive situation.

Why Abused Women May not want to Leave an Abusive Relationship

Many women tend to remain in an abusive relationship and seek intervention measures with the aim of ending abuse, rather than leaving such relationships. Some women may be afraid of what will happen after they leave the relationship and if they have been threatened, they may not feel safe leaving and they will be pursuing all possible channels to make the abuse end (Adjei, 2017). On the other hand, victims of abuse may believe that abuse is normal especially if they have been subjected to abusive relationships when growing up. For example, women who grew up in abusive households are likely to remain in a relationship where they are subjected to intimate partner violence. According to Anderson and Saunders (2003), women who have been previously subjected to abuse believe that abuse is normal and being unable to realize that abuse is unhealthy, they would continue to persevere in a relationship that is abusive despite the repercussions.

Women who stay in an abusive relationship pursue ways of overcoming the challenges they encounter rather than quitting. As affirmed by Colucci et al. (2013), the cycle of abuse is repetitive, implying that victims persevere in the relationship even after the issue has been addressed, but then the cycle of abuse is repeated again. Typically, the process of abuse begins with tension building between the partners, whereby the abuser withholds affection and directs abusive behavior towards the victim. The victim of abuse perseveres in the relationship over a prolonged period (Morris, 2019). The way abuse repeats itself makes it very challenging for the abused woman to finally make a decision to leave the relationship.

In an initial review of a study conducted by Copp et al. (2015), researchers covered women’s possible factors for remaining in abusive relationships. Particularly, women tend to avoid blaming their abuser for the violence and attribute it to external influences, such as having a bad day at work. Starr (2018) brings into focus the salvation ethics to bring out the fact that most people leave abusive relationships as a way of securing their child’s safety and minimizing their pain. On the other hand, some victims may stay as a way of appealing to religion or traditions as a way of justifying their rationale for staying in abusive marriages.

Further, additional reasons for staying in abusive relationships include fear of repercussions, such as stalking, enhanced physical violence, and homicide (Copp et al., 2015).  Further, qualitative interviews conducted among victims of violence assert that additional reasons for persevering in abusive relationships include a commitment to marriage, societal embarrassment and judgment for revealing victimization, protection for their children, and maintaining custody as well as the fear of the negative response from authority upon reporting abuse (Adjei, 2017).

Largely, the rationalization of men staying in intimate violent relationships tend to be similar to those given by women, but some studies indicate that different individuals communicate different reasons for remaining in abusive relationships (Murray et al., 2015). Though globally, men are not subjected to the same mechanisms of power as women. They tend to have more economic and social resources, and abuse against men is not condoned or supported by patriarchal ideas (Harne &Radford 2008). Until the late 20th Century, domestic abuse targeting women was often conceived as an acceptable social behavior accepted in male-dominant cultures, justified in these communities’ customs and traditions and condoled by law. As addressed by Harne and Radford (2008), women have been expected to suffer in silence and despite the significant efforts that have been directed at feminists and women deliberation movements, cases of abuse remain considerably high. Indeed, feminists have successfully worked towards transforming domestic violence and the establishment of a nationwide chain of support services and refuge to safeguard the wellbeing of abused women.

The Implication of Previous Studies on Reasons Why People Remain in Abusive Relationships

The study has established a wide range of literature with conflicting findings on the reasons that make individuals stay in abusive relationships. The study aimed at identifying, critically evaluating, and integrating the findings of all relevant and peer-reviewed studies that had explored the reasons why victims of intimate partner violence do not leave their relationships. The research identified relationships, contradictions, gaps, and inconsistencies that exist in previous studies, to showcase how intimate partner violence remains prevalent in a relationship, yet the victims do not leave.

A systematic review was conducted by the researcher to “collate all empirical evidence that fits pre-specified eligibility criteria to answer a specific research question” (Green et al., 2011, p. 6). The research is based on analysis of secondary data, critical appraisal of research studies and qualitative synthesis of the research findings. The systematic review is based on the formulated research questions that are broad in scope, to identify and synthesize studies that are directly linked to the systematic review questions. The research has been designed with the goal of providing a complete, exhaustive summary of available research evidence relevant to the research question on the factors that influence victims of intimate partner violence to stay in abusive relationships. As the systematic review was undertaken to locate and collate empirical evidence, this method was useful for collecting all available literature on the given subject matter and aimed at answering specific research questions on reasons for persevering in abusive relationships (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012, Bettany-Saltikov, 2012).

Bettany-Saltikov (2012) suggested that using the PEO (Population, exposure, outcomes) method for directing a systematic literature review related to qualitative research questions effectively collects data on abuse among victims. This method allowed the researcher to focus the review by identifying the exclusion and inclusion factors. The outcomes are social, cultural, religious, economic, education-related factors. Therefore, the literature review indicated that there might be many reasons why victims of domestic violence may choose to remain in abusive relationships. The goal of the systematic review of the literature was to identify the reasons which influence victims of abuse to stay in their relationships, despite being abused. The research identifies a broader issue, in the sense that there are variations in the reasons that victims of abuse and violence give for staying in abusive relationships.

Analysis of Derived Data

          A total of 30 articles were selected to be featured in the analysis. These articles had been sourced from across three databases. The articles then underwent qualitative analysis to identify the recurrent themes as presented in these studies. The articles then underwent characterization analysis to draw inferences from them on the reasons for intimate partner violence, and the identified themes were presented in a summarized manner. The study established that Domestic violence is now recognized in the literature as a serious social issue that impacts the rights of victims who are trapped in abusive relationships (Groves & Thomas, 2013). Due to the seriousness of this issue, laws have been evolved to provide recourse to victims of domestic violence. Particularly, the statutory definition of domestic is included in the Legal Aid, Sentencing, and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012; the Serious Crime Act 2015 defines domestic violence as the coercive or controlling behavior against an intimate partner and provides a range of remedies to the victims of abuse in intimate relationships. Despite these provisions in the law that are meant to provide solutions to the victims of domestic law, the literature indicates that there are instances of victims of domestic violence choosing to stay with their abusive partners instead of leaving such relationship and accessing the legal remedies against such abusive behavior of their partners. This creates the context for this research because it is a question of interest as to why victims of domestic violence would choose to stay in an abusive relationship when they have access to laws and social services, which can provide them with some solutions in such a situation.

When assessing perseverance in intimate partner violence, consideration is given to how the victim’s way of communicating incidences of abuse and the response they receive influences them to stay in abusive relationships. The reasons that are attributed to a victim of abuse staying in an abusive relationship will also be analyzed based on the reasons that impact on victims of abuse to stay in such relationships. The social and economic factors that contribute to the victim’s decision to continue living with their abusive partner are an important aspect of consideration (Bettany-Saltikov, 2012).

Treating victims of Abuse as having a Voice and a Sense of Agency

According to Kaur and Gang (2008), domestic abuse is a burden on women whose overall wellbeing is affected by this abuse. Victims of abuse have been described as experiencing adverse physical, psychological and emotional impacts that affect their overall wellbeing. On the other hand, agencies that are tasked with the mandate of safeguarding the wellbeing of abused victims such as the police and social services have not effectively undertaken their role, and this explains why incidences of abuse remain prevalent (Kaur & Gang, 2008).

Typically, many victims feel frustrated by the way in which outside agencies, including the police and social services, tell them what they should be doing, and end up adding to the overall sense of being controlled. In general, victims have a voice and sense of agency, whereby they need to be protected and their wellbeing ensured, yet they have been victims of continuous abuse without sufficient measures being put into place to address their wellbeing. Taking into consideration that leaving an abusive relationship is perceived as a process, many victims of abuse do not successfully overcome the abusive situation and often find themselves going back and forth the abusive relationship. Without a secondary intervention, many individuals are unable to find the needed intervention to leave an abusive situation.

As argued by Radford, Friedberg, and Harne (2000), most abused women continue to stay in the abusive situation mostly because they are unable to access effective interventions that will help them make the final decision to leave. Besides, as affirmed in the process of desistance, the victim ought to make a decision to leave and stay away from abuse and finally stay away from abusive situations. It, therefore, follows that agencies that are tasked with the mandate of protecting victims of abuse ought to put into place more intervention measures into place to guide these victims to leave the abusive relationship.


Partner violence has been described as any action or act of violence that is perpetrated within the context of a relationship among partners. Among partners, abuse has been established as a phenomenon that could take many forms, such as exercising emotional abuse or physical violence acts directed towards an individual. In intimate partner violence, there is usually sexual, psychological and physical abuse that occur among people in heterosexual relationships, which is the focus herein.  Most of the violence is perpetrated on victims and is considered as abuse mostly because of the severity and frequency with which these incidences occur, thus are perceived as abuse.

The research has been drawn from previous literature, which points out to a wide range of contributing factors that make the person stay in an abusive relationship. Various studies have outlined how women comprise the most victims of abuse, experiencing different forms of abuse that range from physical, psychological, and financial abuse. Social, cultural and economic causes of abuse against women have been mainly attributed to the fact that in most households, men have dominance, thus women are required to submit and when they fail to do so, they are often confronted with abuse. The cycle of abuse has been perceived as a continuous process until the person develops desistance, whereby they make the final decision to leave the relationship and stay away from other relationships that may subject them to abuse. The motivation to leave an abusive relationship has been described as influenced by the victim as well as externally influenced by secondary forces. When secondary forces are influenced, various agencies that address gender-based violence offer interventions aimed at rescuing victims in abusive relationships. There

Leaving an abusive relationship has been described as a process that takes over time. Women who are victims of abuse are likely to tolerate the abusive behavior over a sustained time before making a final decision to leave the relationship and never return. Various studies have outlined possible factors for remaining in abusive relationships. Particularly, women have been to avoid blaming their abuser for the violence and attribute it to external influences that the perpetrator is facing. Some women may persevere in the relationship as a way of conforming to the values and beliefs of their culture or religion. Following these dynamics, the process of leaving an abusive relationship is a long and complicated

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Zapor, H., Wolford-Clevenger, C., & Johnson, D. M. (2018). The association between social support and stages of change in survivors of intimate partner violence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 33(7), 1051-1070.

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