When it comes to abusive relationships — whether it's physical, emotional, or any other form of domestic abuse — people often have one suggestion: Just leave. But it's not that simple.
Approximately 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 3 men in the United States will be in an abusive relationship in their lifetime, and just leaving the situation is not always an option.
"It’s important for people to understand that domestic violence relationships are incredibly complex, and there’s a lot of reasons someone might stay," says Katie Ray-Jones, chief executive officer at the National Domestic Violence Hotline (NVDH).
Ray-Jones says that the hotline hears from a lot of people who want to leave, but who have valid reasons for staying.
Ray-Jones notes that it takes a lot of courage to even to contact the hotline, and if you've never been in an abusive relationship, it's not fair to question someone's reasoning for staying. Instead, she says that it's important to support them without judging, whether they want to leave or not.
"Support networks are critical for lifting that person up," she says.
Ahead, Ray-Jones discusses some of the most common reasons a domestic violence survivor might not leave their relationship right away.
If you are experiencing domestic violence, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or TTY 1-800-787-3224 for confidential support.