ENTERTAINMENT
10/06/2014 02:16 pm ET Updated Nov 28, 2016

Dr. Phil Explains Why Women In Abusive Relationships Are ‘Cautious' To Ask For Help

Following the Ray Rice scandal, which caused a firestorm both within and outside the world of professional sports, Dr. Phil says that a “window of focus” has opened in the conversation about domestic violence — which is why he and his wife, Robin McGraw, are seizing the opportunity to educate the public.

"We're going to try to stimulate each other, trigger each other, to come up with new ways to really get this conversation to the forefront and keep and keep it at the forefront," says Dr. Phil, who joined HuffPost Live on Friday from Hollywood, where he and his wife hosted a national summit on domestic violence.

In the conversation with host Nancy Redd, McGraw discussed the various underlying reasons that abuse victims tend to stay with their partners.

“Shame is a real driver in this,” he said. “The estimates are that one in four women are victimized by this by the time they get to their adult life, but yet it’s probably one of the most underreported crimes in America, because of the shame.”

The fear of retribution from a partner can also push a victim to keep quiet about the issue, he said.

“People don’t want to talk about it, or they’re afraid that the court system [or] law enforcement won’t do the right thing,” Dr. Phil said. “And all they’ve done then is irritate and aggravate their abuser, so they’re very cautious about reaching out for help.”

The culture of victim blaming is one aspect of the conversation that the couple hopes to change.

“The first thing you hear [people] say is, ‘Why did she stay? Why didn’t she leave?’ And it sets a tone of blaming the victim,” Robin McGraw said. “And I think that’s, of course, unfortunate. That’s sad. And we want to get the focus off the tendency for them to say that.”

Dr. Phil lauded public figures who have spoken out about domestic violence and stressed the importance of including male voices in the discussion.

“One of the things, I think, that all men need to think about is what kind of message are we sending in the way we talk about or communicate about women,” he said. “And what role models are we setting as adults to these men who are coming up, even before they get into the age where relationships become romantic and therefore emotionally charged.”

Watch the full HuffPost Live conversation with Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw in the clip above.

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