Decision to Leave Scale: Perceived Reasons to Stay In or Leave Violent Relationships


  • Helen M. Hendy, Doreen Eggen, Cheryl Gustitus, Kelli C. McLeod, and Phillip Ng, Psychology Program, Penn State University, Schuylkill.

  • The present research was supported in part by grants from the School of Behavioral Sciences and Education, Office of Research and Graduate Study, and Schuylkill Campus Advisory Board of Penn State University, Capital College. Our consultants included Rachelle Kucera-Mehra and Jo-Bard Addison of Berks County Women in Crisis, PA, Susan Sentz, formerly of Women's Counseling Services of Berks, PA, Sarah Casey and Amy Newton of Schuylkill County Women in Crisis, PA, and Mary Kay Burns, formerly of Schuylkill County Children and Youth Services, PA. We are also grateful for research assistance from Jacqui Abrams, Meredith Ayers, Rosanne Chesakis, Angela Dewald, Diane Evans, Caleb Heagy, Emily Lucas, Melissa McGoey, Toni Dupont-Morales, Michael Wescott Loder, Lara Piotrowski, Marianne Seiler, and Ann Snyder.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Helen M. Hendy, Ph.D., Psychology Program, Penn State University, Schuylkill Campus, 200 University Drive, Schuylkill Haven, PA, 17972. E-mail:


The 30-item Decision to Leave Scale (DLS) was developed with 631 college women and 420 college women and women in shelters. Seven DLS subscales emerged for concerns in deciding to stay or leave: Fear of Loneliness, Child Care Needs, Financial Problems, Social Embarrassment, Poor Social Support, Fear of Harm, Hopes Things Change. Mean internal reliability was .73, mean test-retest reliability was .70. Discriminant validity was demonstrated by expected associations between DLS concerns and self-esteem, children, and violence. Criterion validity was demonstrated by greater DLS concerns for women in shelters than for college women. Women in violent relationships who decided to stay reported more Fear of Loneliness than women who decided to leave.