The Be Project: Empowering Youth to be part of the solution to end relationship violence

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Why Don't They Just Break Up?

Breaking up any relationship is not an easy thing to do, whether there is abuse involved or not. There are many reasons people might choose to stay in an abusive relationship. Here are some common reasons people choose to stay:

  • Peer pressure to have a boyfriend or girlfriend
  • Abusers don’t usually start hitting their partner out of the blue—it usually starts after a history of verbal and emotional abuse: insulting and chipping away at their sense of self-worth
  • They might really love their abusive partner—they may just want the violence to end, not the whole relationship
  • They may believe that they can change their partner
  • FEAR—it takes a lot of courage to end any relationship. If there is violence involved, it can take a whole lot more
  • Threats of violence and/or suicide

Even though it may be difficult for you to understand why your friend would choose to stay in an abusive relationship, it is important not to ask “why don’t you just breakup with them?” or to tell your friend that they need to break up with their partner. Asking this question or telling your friend what to do in this situation instead of letting them decide may make them feel judged, misunderstood, or like they cannot talk to you about what they are experiencing. Abusers act in ways that take away their partner’s power and control. By allowing your friend to decide what to do in their relationship and supporting their decisions, you are helping your friend gain back their sense of power and control.