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Domestic Abuse – Why is it so hard to leave?

If you’ve experienced domestic abuse, it is likely that this question has ruminated through your mind at some point. You may wonder why you can’t simply leave, or maybe you’re a friend or a family member wondering why your loved one stays.

The emotional and psychological damage inflicted by an abusive partner can create a complex web of fear, guilt, and essentially a loss of identity. A sense of loyalty, attachment, and obligation are often attached to what the relationship once was.

Additional barriers that may exist include finances, legal obstacles, care of children, and the potential risk of harm to others. Leaving an abusive relationship can be a very dangerous time and be the most threatening part of all. This can make leaving seem like an impossible task.

Abusers often use manipulation, intermittent love, intimidation, and isolation to control their partner’s thoughts and actions, leaving them feeling powerless. The abuser may convince their partner that they are the problem by asking the question, “Why don’t you just leave?” This manipulation forms a belief system within the victim that they are innately damaged, weak, and responsible for their own abuse. This is a type of gaslighting that is the primary cause of why victims stay with or return to an abuser.

Some people might believe that the abuse itself would make leaving an easy thing to do. Instead, a paradoxical response often occurs. The abuse intensifies the relationship. It activates emotional triggers within the victim of previous losses and trauma, and ultimately makes it harder for them to leave.

Know Thyself Healing & Therapy can provide a safe and supportive space for victims and survivors of domestic violence. We offer trauma informed care that can help facilitate cognitive restructuring, processing of trauma, and strategies to help break the cycle of abuse to assist others in regaining control over their lives. We utilize several trauma informed modalities found to be beneficial in helping individuals cope and process experiences of domestic abuse. These modalities include: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Brainspotting, Cognitive Processing Therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Psychodynamic Therapy, and Group Therapy.

If you or a loved one you know is experiencing abuse, know that you are not alone and there is help available. Contact Know Thyself Healing & Therapy in Minnetonka, MN, at (952) 222-7936 or visit our website to schedule a consultation with one of our experienced therapists at We hope to walk along side of you to help find the keys to your healing.

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