Dr. Sarah Buel’s Explains Why Abuse Victims Stay

a sad woman

Dr. Sarah Buel has a long history of activism in the area of domestic abuse. She is currently a clinical professor of law and faculty director of the Diane Halle Center for Family Justice at Arizona State University. She graduated from Harvard Law School, where she founded the Harvard Battered Women’s Advocacy Project, the Harvard Women in Prison Project, and the Harvard Children and Family Rights Project.

Early in her career, Dr. Buel chose to work as a prosecutor in Quincy, MA, turning down several better-paying offers from large firms. It was here that she instituted her unique community approach to combating domestic violence.

The success of her program led to other communities implementing her methods. In 1994, she narrated the Oscar-winning documentary Defending Our Lives. The film examined the controversial topic of women going to prison for murdering abusive partners. In 1996, NBC named her one of the most inspiring people in America for her efforts to prevent domestic abuse.

50 Obstacles to Leaving, a.k.a. Why Abuse Victims Stay

As a survivor of domestic abuse herself Dr. Buel knows the various obstacles that can stand in the way of someone leaving their abuser. Her paper, 50 Obstacles to Leaving, a.k.a. Why Abuse Victims Stay, lays out in detail the various pressures, both external and internal, standing in the way of someone beginning a new life without abuse.

Some of these pressures may come from family members, religious authorities, or others who have their own reasons for keeping families together in the face of an unhealthy relationship.

Abuse Knows no Boundaries

Dr. Buel’s paper confronts the fact that abuse knows no cultural, economic, or gendered boundaries.  It affects people rich and poor, gay and straight, young and old. Everyone, regardless of who they are, will face their own challenges in confronting, reporting, and finding the strength to end an abusive situation.

Unfortunately, abuse often strikes at those who are most vulnerable and whose problems can obscure our understanding of the seriousness of the situation.  Dr. Buel’s paper looks at these groups including the mentally disabled, the elderly, those with substance abuse problems, undocumented immigrants, and people recently emerging from prison and on parole.

It is up to the community and advocates to be able to understand the nature of domestic abuse and look for better ways to recognize and address the issue. Dr. Buel’s paper looks at ways that advocates can improve their practices and more effectively help victims of abuse.

It is a valuable resource to both those looking for help to free themselves of an abusive situation, as well as those who wish to be their advocates.

Spanish Translation of 50 Obstacles to Leaving, a.k.a. Why Abuse Victims Stay

In an attempt to increase the availability of domestic abuse literature to non-English speakers we have arranged the translation of 50 Obstacles to Leaving into Spanish. While we realize that this is only one article and one small step toward providing these resources to a wider audience, we hope that it provides value for organizations and individuals serving domestic abuse victims from the Spanish speaking communities of North Carolina, the U.S. and elsewhere.

If you know of another domestic abuse resource you feel should be made available in Spanish please feel free to contact us with your suggestions.

Learn More about Sarah Buel


Charles Ullman & Associates provides you respected, experienced and knowledgeable divorce and family law attorneys. You can trust us to help you through the legal process efficiently and effectively so you can transition to the next phase of your life. Our community involvement reaches beyond charitable support of important causes. We launched our own movement in Fraternities4Family and provide scholarships to able students in need.