Why People Stay in Abusive Relationships
Many people wonder “If you are being abused by your partner, why would you ever stay?”. May seem like common sense to many, however the answer is much more complex than that and depends on the individual situation one finds themselves in. It is never easy to end a relationship, even an unhealthy one. Below are some of the reasons why people stay in abusive relationships.
- Love: you love your partner and there times where the partner might show affection and love
- Hope: you have many memories of “the good times” and you hope that the relationship will return to the way it used to be; your partner might make promises to change or you may think that you could influence change for things to go back to being good
- Making light of the abuse: your partner might deny or minimize the abuse and you might convince yourself that it’s not that bad
- Blaming yourself: Your partner might blame you for his/her abusive behaviour and you might actually believe that you are responsible
- Link between love and violence: if you grew up with violence or hit by your partner while being told they love you, you might have learned to associate love with violence
- Hopelessness: You may feel like you’ll never be happy again or you will never find a new relationship again or that all relationships are abusive
- Gender roles: as a woman, you may have been brought up to believe that a man is in charge and has the right to discipline women; you may believe that you to put up with this behaviour and try to keep their men happy
- Embarrassment and shame: you may not want to admit what’s going on to others because you are afraid of their reactions to the situation and pressure you to leave the relationship
- Financial dependence: You or your children may depend of your partner for financial support
- Lack of supportive relationships: you may have become isolated from friends/family
- Fear: your partner may threaten to hurt or kill you or someone you care about if you leave
- Not wanting to be alone: you may panic at the thought of being without your partner
- Loyalty: you may feel the need to stick with your partner based on religious/cultural beliefs and values
- Rescue complex: you think you can change, fix or heal your partner if you stay
- Guilt: your partner may make you feel guilty about how hurt they would be if you left the relationship; they may even threaten suicide as a way of controlling your actions
- Children: if you share children with your partner, you may believe it is best for the children if the two of you stayed together
- Dependency on drugs and alcohol: many people turn to drugs and alcohol as a means of coping with the abuse, which then further inhibits their ability to leave the relationship
Dealing with, escaping and recovering from an abusive situation is never an easy task to undertake. It can impair your mental health leading to suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety. You may feel an overwhelming sense of fear, guilt and shame immobilizing you from making any further changes. Your substance use may emerge or increase due to your desperate efforts to cope or simply to numb or avoid dealing with your strong feelings. Professional therapists can help you through this challenging time in your life by finding ways to cope, gaining new insight and perspectives, help you stay safe, process difficult emotions and empower you to improve your quality of life. You are not alone.
Also, check out this great Facebook page called “WHY I STAYED” for more information and support.