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Taking a step to protect yourself from domestic violence

Domestic violence can be a frightening situation for the victim, who often feels completely isolated and trapped. In fact, a common part of domestic abuse involves someone isolating another person from friends and family, effectively cutting off obvious escape routes from the situation. For people outside of the situation, it can seem confusing as to why the victim stays in the relationship.

One big reason someone stays in an abusive relationship is fear. They might fear for their own safety should they try to leave, but they could also fear for the safety of children or other loved ones. Since domestic violence is often coupled with mental or emotional abuse, victims could also be convinced that something bad will happen if they leave, such as the other person taking the kids away or ruining the victim's reputation in the social community.

Some victims have become convinced that the domestic abuse is normal. They might chalk it up to the other person acting out stress or other issues. If they grew up in an abusive environment, it's possible they don't have a good measure for what a healthy relationship should look like.

Resources can also be a reason victims don't leave a relationship. Domestic violence is often about control, which means that the abusive individual could withhold money or resources so that it's seemingly impossible for the victim to leave. They might not have access to money or a vehicle, for example.

If you are dealing with an abusive situation -- or feel that a loved on is trapped in such an environment -- there are legal options that can help. Protective orders can help keep you safe while you work on getting yourself out of the situation via divorce or other remedies.

Source: The National Domestic Abuse Hotline, "“Why Don’t They Just Leave?”," accessed March 10, 2017

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