Scared to leave? Scared to stay?


"The wonder of it is not that women find it hard to leave the scene of the violence but that so many find the courage to do so" Victim support report, 1992

Women often want the violence to end not the relationship.

Despite the impact of domestic violence or abuse many people, maybe you yourself cannot understand why women stay in violent or abusive relationships. Abuse can come in many forms including name calling or put downs, not being allowed to see family or friends, withholding money, actual or physical harm, sexual assault, using jealousy to control YOU and blaming YOU for his violence. Victims of domestic violence are usually women but not always the case.

The main thing is that YOU are not alone, one in four women suffer or have suffered domestic violence. It is not easy to seek help and YOU may feel frightened ashamed confused and guilty.

It is not easy to accept or understand that a loved one can act so terribly towards you. Maybe because you cannot explain your partners behaviour you may assume that you are to blame. YOU ARE NOT.

The most important thing to do is tell someone. The prospect of leaving a violent relationship can be as frightening as staying. Your partner may have threatened that if you leave or tell anyone about the violence then your children will be taken away. Social services will not take children for this reason. We understand that even after you leave you may still be at risk.

You are NOT to blame

You have the right to live free from violence and the fear of the violence

You can get help and support:
- whether you have children or not
- whether you want to leave your partner or not

Reasons why women find it difficult to leave a violent partner or relationship:-

  • They think he will change
  • Afraid of what he might do
  • Do not want to leave the home environment
  • Do not want to upset the children
  • Nowhere to go
  • Cannot afford to leave
  • Too much in love with him
  • Do not want to end the relationship
  • Think the violence was a "once off"

Women are faced with complex choices when they are making choices about leaving their violent partners. For each woman those decisions are dependent on the particular circumstances she faces.

Problems can be overcome, below is an experience of one survivor who left the domestic abuse.

" I was married for 6 years and with my partner for 11 the abuse started very soon into the relationship. Not physical but verbal calling me names it crept up on me soon he was throwing things at me and threatening me, not letting me see my friends and hitting me. After the birth of my daughter the abuse got worse and he would hit me whilst I had the baby in my arms. I went to my mother in-laws house after one beating and she phoned him up and he was very apologetic, she sent me back to him saying that I must try harder to work at the marriage and to always put myself last. I tried very hard not to upset him, it was like treading on eggshells. Nothing I did was good enough, everything was my fault and it got to the point where my daughter would hide behind the sofa and scream whilst he hit me. I could cope, but my daughter couldn't and one morning just before christmas I went out to the shops and went to the bus station and caught a bus. We had just what we were stood up in. I phoned the police and they got in touch with the refuge for me. There was space for me and I was welcomed and for the first time in a long time I felt safe. At the refuge they helped me apply for income support so I had some money and apply for housing in the Darlington area. I was in the refuge for nearly three months and then I was offered a house. Nearly a year on I am still rebuilding my life but with a confidence I had forgotten I had, My daughter is in a new school and has made new friends and we are enjoying our life together.

Not all women wish to leave the home or the abuser, you can still get help and support

" I have been married for 19 years and I love my husband. For nearly all my married life I have put up with my partners violent outbursts. The violence started when I was pregnant with my first child and continues. I see my outreach worker on a regular basis and she helps me to realise the violence is not my fault. I have regained some of my confidence but having someone who I can talk to without being judged and someone who will listen to me is my lifeline and helps me through." Family pressure not to leave


About us

About us Darlington Refuge not only provides emotional and practical support within the refuge but also gives support to women via its Independent Living Project when they are in the process of moving into a new home. Our Independent living worker...

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Outreach Project

Email: The Outreach Project was set up in 1995, primarily to assist women who were living in abusive relationships, but did not want to leave or who did not want to go into a refuge. From 2012 the Outreach project in...

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