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Barriers to Survivors

barriers to survivorsOne of the worst questions to ask someone in an abusive relationship is “Why don’t you just leave?”

There are countless barriers that exist to survivors of domestic violence as they consider leaving the relationship. It’s important to understand that domestic violence is complicated and dangerous and there is much more than what is on the surface.

Below is a list of some of the barriers that exist for survivors.

  • Undocumented, fear of deportation
  • No knowledge of options
  • No place to go
  • Guilt
  • Protecting abuser's military career
  • Feeling it is safer to stay
  • Promises of change
  • Lack of transportation
  • Denial
  • No job skills
  • Mentally disabled
  • Hope that the violence will end
  • Fear of losing child custody
  • Rural settings, resulting isolation and lack of services
  • Love
  • Feeling abuse is deserved
  • Negative experiences with the court system
  • Children’s best interest
  • Lack of an advocate
  • Health issues
  • Pressure from family members
  • Unaware that abuse is a criminal offense
  • Being a teen, not understanding safe relationships
  • Substance or alcohol abuse
  • Past criminal record
  • Stockholm syndrome: sympathy for abuser
  • Shame and embarrassment
  • Being a student, fear of snitching and lack of support
  • Mediation imbalance of power
  • Mental issues
  • Religious beliefs and misguided teachings
  • Low self-esteem
  • Fear of revealing sexual orientation (LBGTQ+)
  • Abuser’s excuses
  • Elderly, traditional beliefs, dependent on others
  • Wanting to keep the family together
  • Gratitude for past deeds
  • Disabilities
  • Cultural and racial defenses
  • Pressure from children
  • Abuser threats, fear for life
  • Abuser’s influence
  • Fear the abuser will retaliate
  • Financial abuse, no access to money
  • The abuser is in law enforcement
  • Incarcerated or newly released survivors
  • Illiteracy
  • Isolation
  • Homelessness
  • Financial despair

If you are supporting a loved one in an abusive relationship, take time to listen and offer support. Empower your loved one in the conversation as you explore, together, their unique situation because they know their abuser and situation best. Do not be judgemental of their choices, whether it is to stay or leave. Tell them about Harbor House and how we can help.

The list is compiled by