There is still insufficient understanding of the individual psychology and social factors which explain why a victim can become entrapped in a relationship characterised by coercive control, and be unable to leave.
For instance, the response of the brain and nervous system to trauma, coupled with gendered expectations of behaviour, can help to explain the behaviour of those who stay with abusive partners. And the most dangerous time for an abused woman is the time when she does try to leave.
If these aspects of domestic abuse are not widely understood, those determining whether an offence has been committed may be unable to recognise the controlling and coercive nature of the behaviour, and its impact on the psyche and behaviour of the victim.
The science behind staying
Current thinking in neuroscience and attachment theory tells us that in a dangerous situation, such as when facing the prospect of rape or physical violence, we are hard-wired to preserve our attachment relationships (our connection with our primary attachment figure who, after childhood, is often a romantic partner) above all else. After a person has attempted fight, flight and freeze in the face of a physical or verbal attack, they will often surrender as a final defence mechanism.