Why Women Don’t Report Abuse and Why They Stay

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Why doesn’t a person who has been harmed, report it? It can happen in any intimate partner relationship and statistically, it is more likely to happen to women. Complex reasons for not reporting include stigma, shame, fear of blame, and the emotional connection to the person who has been harming them.

If we are close to someone experiencing intimate partner violence and we recognize their moments of resilience and resistance, we ‘bear witness’ which can help them recognize their own strength. Leaving a violent relationship can be difficult AND dangerous and it isn’t always helpful to tell someone to leave. We may not realize that it can take many times to exit a violent relationship. It’s important to stay nonjudgmental because there can be many reasons why a person may choose to stay with their abuser. When they DO leave a violent relationship, support systems can become unavailable and there is a period of danger for six months to a year. A person who is thinking of leaving (or who has left) an abusive relationship will benefit from the maintained contact and unconditional support of the trusted people around them.

Marion Little, Adjunct Assistance Professor, Dispute Resolution Program, School of Public Administration, University of Victoria, BC, Canada, discusses Intimate Partner Abuse in a series of KidCareCanada videos.

Please note that if you are in BC or the Yukon, you can access toll-free, confidential, multilingual telephone service (Crisis Support) 24 hours per day, 1-800-563-0808 or email VictimLinkBC@bc211.ca.