People who have not been abused by an intimate partner often say that if their partner ever abused them they certainly would leave. Domestic violence victims/survivors are not always passive – they are employing survival techniques every day to protect themselves & their children – everything short of leaving.
Staying in or returning to an abusive relationship is a complex decision that may be a very rational survival mechanism.
The term "intimate relationships" is used here to be maximally inclusive of any romantic and/or sexual relationship between two non-biologically-related people, including dating or courtship relationships, relationships in which the romantic partners live together in the same household (cohabiting), relationships in which two people have children in common but are no longer formally romantically or sexually involved with one another, and marital relationships.
Ideally such relationships are loving and supportive, protective of and safe for each member of the couple.
When the couple married, many asked, "Why would she stay with him?
Unfortunately, some people, while fulfilling these nurturing, positive needs of their partners at least some of the time and at least early in their relationship's development, also behave abusively, causing their partners (and often others as well) substantial emotional and/or physical pain and injury.
In extreme cases, abusive behavior ends in the death of one or both partners, and, sometimes, other people as well. Frequently, however, abuse continues or worsens once a relationship is over.
"One woman told me, 'I can still hear his voice in my head.
Even though I've been out of the relationship for three years, I feel like I'm still sitting there,'" Ray-Jones says.