While working at my social work practicum at an abuse shelter, one of the girls I had been working with who was fleeing her abusive relationship chose to return to her abuser. This was incredibly hard to hear because of all the progress she had been making during her time at the shelter. Studies show that it can take a victim an average of 6.3 — yes 6.3 — times of returning to their abuser before they leave for good (Kippert, 2022).
A Difficult Cycle to Break
Now the question you may be wondering is, why? Why do those who have been abused return to their partner? The answer is not simple, because there are number of factors that can play into their decision. Amanda Kippert (2022) explains that a victim could return to their abuser due to fear, control, nowhere else to go, or because there are children involved. These few reasons alone can make it incredibly hard for anyone to stay away from their abuser.
The Role of Social Workers
In this particular case of the woman going back to her abuser, they shared children. This is not to say this is the only reason she went back, but it likely played a large part. As social workers, we cannot force someone to stay away from their abuser. What we can do is try to educate them about options and resources in hopes that they can leave their abuser for good. Each individual has the right to his or her own decisions and we have to respect that decision.
By: Elizabeth Powell, EKU social work student
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