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A look inside the dynamics of domestic violence

Domestic violence is complicated. People outside of the situation often feel like it's very simple; the person who is being abused should just leave, they say. The reality, in many cases, is that it's never simple.

For one thing, the person being abused does want the abuse to stop, but he or she may not actually want the relationship to end. The victim does care about the abuser. There may have been a time when the relationship was healthy. The victim doesn't want to run; he or she just wants to go back to that type of relationship.

Another key point is that some victims feel guilty. They're ashamed to tell anyone what's going on. They may mistakenly believe it's their own fault. This can keep them from ending the relationship or seeking help.

Financial dependence also comes into play. The victim may have no income and/or no control over the family's money. It's easy to say that he or she should leave, but that's a daunting prospect without money even for a night at a hotel.

Finally, the victim may have kids with the abuser. This further complicates things, especially in a relationship where the victim still loves the abuser. Is leaving going to cut that person off from the kids forever? While it's easy to argue from the outside that doing so would be best -- and it is, when kids are in danger -- it's often hard for the victim to take such a drastic step.

If you're being abused, be sure you know what options you have. It's a complicated situation, but you do have legal rights and there is a way out.

Source: NCADV, "Dynamics of Abuse," accessed July 21, 2017

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