"Why don't you just leave"

There are many reasons why people stay in abusive relationships. If you have a friend in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, support them by understanding why they might not want to or be or feel unable to leave the relationship. 


Conflicting Emotions 

Fear - Your friend might be afraid of what will happen if they leave the relationship, they might have been threatened by with partner, family or friends and might not feel safe leaving. 

Love - Abusive relationships don't start with abuse, your friend might have fallen in love with the person before the abuse started, they might believe that it wont happen again and they will go back to the person they originally fell in love with.

Believing abuse is normal - If someone doesn't know what a healthy relationship looks like, or they have grown up seeing abusive relationships they might not realise their relationship is unhealthy.

Embarrassment - It can be hard to admit that you need help, that you are being hurt, that you have made a mistake. You might be worried about the judgement, this is normal for everyone in any situation not just when someone is in an abusive relationship. 


Fear of being outed - If your friend is LGBTQ+ and hasn't come out yet, they may be worried that their partner may reveal this if they leave the relationship. 


Low self-esteem - If your friend's partner keeps putting them down, making them feel insecure, useless and needing direction it can be hard for them to fight against these feelings.




Social/Peer Pressure - If the abuser is also a part of your friendship group, your friend might be worried about the outcome of leaving this relationship. They may believe that they will also loose their friends.  


Cultural/Religious Reasons - Traditional gender roles can make it difficult for people to admit to things if they appear to be breaking stereotypes e.g. men getting hurt, also your friends culture or religion may make them feel trapped in the relationship to save bring shame on them or their family.    

Pregnancy/Parenting (or pets) - Your friend might feel like they have to stay in an abusive relationship for the sake of their child or pet. Also their partner might threaten to take or harm the child/pet if your friend leaves. 

Distrust of Adults or Authority

Adults often don't believe that young people can experience real love and that their feelings, investment and relationships aren't as important as "adult" ones. Because of this your friend might be worried that they won't be taken seriously by adults, support services or the police. However if they are aged 16 or over they can access domestic abuse services and many places also have a young person service too, further to this you can also talk to your school, college or education provider and they may be able to offer assistance too.  

If your friend has moved to the UK from overseas they may fear that reporting abuse my affect their immigration status or bring unwanted questions. Your friend might also be worried about communication barriers when disclosing abuse if English isn't their first language. 

Reliance on abusive partner

Lack of Money - A lot of abusive relationships have an element of financial abuse, where the abusive partner limits their victims access to money or stops them from getting a job to build dependency and minimise independence. If your friend is financially dependent on their partner they may need additional help to get back on their own feet when they leave the relationship. 

Nowhere to Go  - Even if they can leave, your friend might feel that they have nowhere to go or nobody they can turn to, part of coercive abuse is isolation of a victim from their friends and family, for someone who has experienced this they may feel lonely and scared of initiating contact again.

Disability - If your friend is physically dependent on their abusive partner, they can feel that their well-being is connected to the relationship and could heavily influence their decision to stay or leave the relationship. 

This information is up to date as of 28th March 2019 and will not be updated soon