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LIANNE [lee-ann]
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"Why Doesn't She Just Leave?": Understanding Why Victims Stay in Abusive Relationships

I don’t ever speak on celebrity drama… that’s an area I try my best to steer clear from. It’s messy. It’s toxic. It can get really ugly, REAL QUICK. However, I can’t keep my mouth shut on this particular situation. As a survivor of domestic violence, anytime I see a headline that’s bringing awareness to this sensitive topic, I PAY ATTENTION.

If you’ve been living under a rock, let me quickly bring you up to speed. Allegations against Sean “Love”, “Diddy”, “P. Diddy”, “Puff Daddy”, whatever-bullshit-name-he-wants-to-call-himself-these-days Combs, were filed in a lawsuit in federal court by his former romantic partner & artist, Cassandra “Cassie” Ventura. She accused the music mogul of years of rape, sex trafficking and physical abuse throughout their relationship.

I’ve always felt like Diddy was a monster. I remember watching episodes of Making the Band on MTV back in the day and feeling second-hand embarrassment with what he had those people do on the show. Now, I get it. Reality TV is definitely scripted and edited down to a science. However, he’s always given me WEIRDO, ABUSIVE VIBES… If you know, you know. This is NOT the first time he’s been in the headlines for several different allegations. But, that’s beside the point of this blog post… I DIGRESS!

I want to focus on the amount of backlash I witnessed across several blogs from trolls hiding behind a screen. The amount of people who were VICTIM BLAMING Cassie was such a shame to see. The amount of times I saw people say things like:

“wHy DiD sHe StAy FoR sO LoNg iF hE wAs ReAlLy ThAt hOrRiBLe tO hEr?” 🤡

“sHe MuSt Be BrOkE nOw.” 🤡

“iT wAsN’T tHaT BaD iF sHe wAiTeD tHiS LoNg tO saY sOmEtHiNg.” 🤡

*insert deep sigh* Typing that makes my skin crawl and my blood boil🤬. It infuriated me to see how ignorant and insensitive society could really be. I don’t think people realize how damaging this rhetoric can have on other victims of abuse who haven’t found strength within to speak out. So, allow me to school you on 10 reasons WHY victims stay in abusive relationships. It’s not that simple of just getting up and leaving.

#1: Fear of Retaliation

Victims may fear that leaving will lead to retaliation from the abuser. There are oftentimes where the violence or harassment can drastically escalate when the victim does decide to leave the relationship. The victim can also endure a smear campaign, with an effort to damage their reputation by coming up with negative information. This is even more apparent when the perpetrator(s) have status, money and power.

#2: Financial Abuse

Up to 99% of domestic violence victims suffer from some sort of financial abuse, according to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV). Economic factors often trap victims in abusive relationships, especially if they’re financially dependent on the abuser. Lack of financial resources can make it difficult for victims to support themselves. It’s even harder when children are involved in the relationship.

#3: Isolation and Lack of Support

Abusers thrive off of power and control. They often use manipulative tactics to isolate victims from their support system, thus continuing the cycle of abuse. This can make it harder for victims to seek help or find emotional support when thinking of leaving.

#4: Emotional Manipulation

Like I mentioned above, abusers use various ways to emotionally manipulate the victim. There are oftentimes when victims believe they’re worthless or incapable of surviving without the abuser, creating a sense of dependency in the relationship.

#5: Guilt and Shame

I remember feeling such immense feelings of shame, guilt and embarrassment in my last relationship that became abusive. No one knew what was going on behind closed doors until the night my ex-boyfriend almost ended my life. I talk about that more on episode 10 of my podcast. Victims of abuse can internalize these feelings. They may feel responsible for the abuse or fear judgment from others. This is one of the most significant reasons why victims stay in abusive relationships.

#6: Custody Concerns

It’s hard enough to be in an abusive relationship… imagine adding kids into the mix? Concerns about the well-being of children and fear of losing custody can be powerful obstacles for why victims stay in abusive relationships and don’t consider leaving.

#7: Trauma Bonding

This is a very trendy word floating around the digital world nowadays. To break it down in layman’s terms, trauma bonding is when someone experiencing abuse develops an attachment to their abuser. Victims may experience a strong emotional bond which can make it difficult for them to leave despite the abuse. Stockholm Syndrome may be considered an extreme form of trauma bonding.

#8: Limited Access to Resources

Limited access to resources such as shelters, counseling, and support services can make it hard for a victim’s ability to escape an abusive situation. Don’t even get me started with how ass-backwards the legal system is for victims of abuse. That’s a whole different can of worms that will be saved for another day.

#9: Fear of Judgment and Victim Blaming

Like I mentioned earlier, the amount of backlash Cassie received was despicable to witness. The societal stigma associated with leaving an abusive relationship can make victims hesitate to leave. They fear they’ll be blamed for the abuse or judged by others. It isn’t easy to talk about the pain and trauma you’re going or have been through. It’s even harder to speak up when those comments come from your own inner circle.

#10: The Cycle of Abuse

The cyclical nature of abusive relationships, with periods of abuse followed by apologies and promises of change, can create a false sense of hope and keep victims trapped in the cycle. If you want to learn more about the cycle of abuse, check out this blog post.

The Bottom Line

If there’s one takeaway I want to leave you with, it’s this… STOP. BLAMING. THE. VICTIM‼️ I feel so passionate about this topic because that’s a question I’ve been asked myself. This is why so many people don’t come forward.

If your first reaction was “wHy wOuLd sHe SpEaK uP nOw?” 🤡 Guess what? YOU are a part of the problem. What you should be asking is questions like, “Why would someone do this to another person?” or “What can be done to support those affected by domestic violence?” Stop deflecting the blame on the perpetrator and shifting it to the person who is dealing with the abuse.

I’m sending all my love and support to anyone who has been or is currently in a similar situation like Cassie. I’m incredibly proud of her for finding the strength within to use her voice, despite the backlash that comes with it. It’s never easy to talk about the pain and trauma you’ve been through.

It isn’t easy to shine a spotlight on your dirty laundry. It’s difficult to get justice from someone who hurt you. Regardless of the bumps in the road she could’ve faced, she took her power back anyway. That should be a shining example for other victims and survivors of abuse out there.

Don’t be afraid to speak up. You have the ability within yourself to stand in your truth. I’m cheering you on from the sidelines🫶🏼✨

*Editors update: Since the publication of this article, Cassie has since settled her lawsuit against Sean Combs of rape and abuse. Check out this article to learn more.


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