It’s easy to understand when a woman is afraid to leave her partner because she is afraid that he will hurt her, or even kill her, if she tries to leave. But the truth is that physical violence is only one symptom of abuse.

Control Over a Partner Is The Driving Factor Behind Abuse

Violence is only one method of controlling a partner. While striking or threatening a partner may make them fearful enough to stay, it also gives them a significant reason to leave. By the time a living situation has escalated into violence, an abuser has typically set up many other methods of control to make it extremely difficult for the victim to simply walk away.

Here are a few control methods that abusers use to ensure that their partners feel “trapped” in an abusive relationship:

  • Money. The biggest reason women stay in unfavorable relationships is because they believe that they have nowhere else to go. Their partners may own their home, their car, and provide the majority of their income.
  • Education. Victims who have not completed as much higher education as their partner may fear that they will be unable to get a job to provide for themselves and their children, or may have been told that they are “not smart enough” to make it on their own.
  • Children. Domestic violence affects whole families in Seattle. Women who are afraid that they will be unable to provide for or protect their children if they leave will typically stay in an abusive situation longer than women without children.
  • Lack of support. Many cultures look the other way when domestic violence occurs, or do not see it as a viable reason to end a marriage. If a woman is told by her relatives that violence is normal or natural, she will not have the benefit of familial resources when she leaves, and she may be frightened of being alone.
  • Psychological trauma. Many women do not take action against their abusers because they are paralyzed by the psychological effects of the trauma.
  • Fear of legal issues. Many victims may have been told by their partner that the law will not protect them, that lawyers are expensive, and that the court will not be able to keep a perpetrator away from the victim and her children.

If someone in your family needs legal protection from an abuser, we can help. Click the contact link on this page and we will contact you privately to listen to your story and explain your options.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington