Often times, when a victim reveals that their abuser is still in their life, they are asked why.
Why would you keep in contact with someone who did such horrible things on you? Making the choice to continue contact with your abuser is not always an easy one and sometimes they may not have any other choice. I know for myself with my abuser being around my family, I had no other choice at the time than to continue contact because of how my family handled things.
Usually people keep contact for many different reasons, but to name a few, the abuser is a relative, the abuser offers some form of support for the victim, or the abuser says the have or will change.
When the abuser is a family member and the family reacts poorly, when the abuse is uncovered, the victim often times is still forced to keep contact with their abuser. When a family is not supportive of getting the abuser out of contact with the victim, they are forced to keep contact. This is such a struggle for some victims.
Knowing my family didn’t believe me (or they didn’t think it was as serious) was probably the biggest struggle for me next to what was actually happening. I just wanted to know why my family didn’t want to get this horrible person out of my life. I will never really know this reason and that is often times the story for so many other victims. Also, sometimes the victim may not feel safe enough to tell the family because of threats the abuser has said or out fear of receiving some kind of punishment for what has happened to them.
An abuser will often times threaten or groom the victim into not speaking out about the abuse. Sometimes, if the victim is a child, the abuser will promise to buy them things that they want in order to keep the child quiet about the abuser, or they will tell the child they will hurt their family, pet, etc. if they tell anyone. Another reason why some people don’t come out and tell their family is that they fear they will be in trouble especially if they are a minor. They are afraid the family will punish them for the abuse so they never speak up or it takes them a long time to speak up. Unfortunately, sometimes these exact fears are validated with the families’ reactions.
A second reason the victims keeps the abuser in their life is that the abuser often will offer some sort of support, whether it be financial, emotional, etc. When the abuser is the head of house financially, sometimes they are in the position to keep their victim because they know that they couldn’t do it on their own (or they make the victim believe this). Other times, the abuser may have offered up some form of emotional support for the victim. The abuser may have in the beginning helped the victim get over major events in their life so the victim feels like they need to keep them around for support. The victim may also feel like they could not support themselves without the abuser in their life.
This is often times the cause for those who rely on their abuser for finances and how to take care of other things that they may never had to do for themselves and they may not know how to do. Often times, that is a scary thought of being alone and doing something they are unsure of. Other times, a victim is afraid to move on from the abuser. The victims often believe that their abuser really does love them and would never actually do anything to hurt them. Thus, causing a verbatim of wanting to leave or to stay. This could also be a reason as to why the victim may return to their abuser.
Lastly, often when the victim threatens to leave the abuser, the abuser says they have changed or will change. This gives the victim a sense of hope that the abuser is different and that things won’t be the same. The abuser often will change for a short amount of time just to get the victim to stay. In addition, another thing abusers will do is make the victim believe that it won’t happen again. I can’t count the times my abuser told me that he would never do it again when I threatened to finally tell someone, however, the abuse would continue. This is sometimes the reality for victims and other times it isn’t. To put things in a better perspective, according to RAINN.org, out of every 1,000 rapes, 994 perpetrators will walk free that’s less than 1%.
These may not be the exact reasons why all victims keep their abuser in their life. I believe every victim has a reason or multiple reasons why or why not they chose to keep their abuser in their life. I know there are many different reasons, these are just a few. Some that I know of first-hand how they feel. It is always a hard decision to make but please know that everyone at AVFTI is always here to help, offer support, and to just listen.