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“Before you judge a man, walk a mile in his shoes.” That’s an old maxim most readers in Louisiana have likely heard at one time or another. As the website points out, the moral behind the statement is that it’s important to have empathy for others.

When it comes to domestic violence, it can be easy to be judgmental, though most would probably agree that it’s not productive. It certainly doesn’t help the person who is suffering the pain and abuse. Still, it can be easy for those who have never experienced it to ask why abuse victims don’t just leave. As the anti-abuse organization observes, there is no single answer to the question.

Fear is a big motivator for staying in a bad relationship. Where will I go? If children are involved, can I keep them safe? What if my abuser comes after me? If the victim is in a same-sex relationship that no one else knows about, fear of being outed might be a factor.

Experience, or perhaps a lack of it, can stall an abused person from leaving a toxic situation. It may be that violence and abuse is the only thing the victim has ever known. He or she might be unaware what a healthy relationship should be like. Misguided notions about love might lead the victim to think the issue is his or her fault. If the abusive partner vows to change, that hope might keep the victim in place.

Embarrassment and shame might be so great as to stymie any movement, as well. It may be difficult for a victim to admit that they put up with being a victim for so long. Maybe family and friends warned the victim about getting involved with the abuser to begin with and fear hearing, “I told you so,” instead of, “It’s OK. You did the right thing.”

Every person has a right to feel safe and secure against unwanted verbal or physical abuse. Protective orders exist for this purpose, with specific orders designed to counter specific circumstances. If you are seeking protection, or feel you are the undue target of a protective order, speak with a skilled attorney right away to understand and exercise your rights.

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