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why do people stay in abusive relationships?

Open Discussions About Domestic Abuse.

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Postby mullog » Wed May 09, 2007 12:32 am

My guess is that either they still love the person and believe they can change or are afraid of being alone.

I believe relationships turn abusive after a while, so it's quite understadable that after sharing life with someone it's hard to let go or to realize they are in an abusive relationship.
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Postby Butterfly Faerie » Wed May 09, 2007 3:08 am

There are a ton if reason's why...

here are some of them....

Women often stay for the following reasons:

Denial:

She truly may not believe she is being abused. In order to remain in the relationship, she has found ways to explain away the incidents of mistreatment, whether emotional or physical. Or, she may feel that she can "handle" him and avoid serious incidents.

Financial:

Sadly, a woman often earns less money than a man, or may not work because of her partner's objections. She knows if she leaves the relationship, she will have great difficulty supporting herself. Usually, her partner has reinforced these fears, telling her that he will not help support her, or that she can never find or keep a job. He may also threaten to make trouble for her on the job, if she is employed. This issue is compounded when there are children involved.

Fear:

Threats are used as an effective technique to keep someone in a relationship, which is the goal of the abuser. A woman may have been told over and over that if she leaves the relationship, terrible things will happen to her. He may have convinced her that no matter where she goes, he will find her and never leave her alone. She may also fear living alone and the prospect of trying to support herself and the children. Or he may have threatened to kill her, the children and himself. (Threatening suicide is quite common in relationships where the abuse is mostly emotional.)

Love:

A woman usually wants her relationship to work and is willing to hang in there waiting and hoping things will improve. She may believe the promises and explanations her partner offers and may feel she can't simply give up on the relationship because of a "few problems."

Children:

Whether she wants her children to have good relationships with their father, or she feels guilty "breaking up" the family, or because of his threats to keep her away from the children, many times a woman stays in an abusive relationship because of her children. Ironically, she will often leave because she realizes her children are being adversely affected by living in an abusive atmosphere.

Religion:

Most religions strongly discourage divorce and the breakup of the family. These ideals are admirable, but when abuse is involved, there is little Biblical support for remaining. But, a woman who has strong religious convictions can feel an enormous guilt if she leaves her marriage.

Pressures from family or church:

Surprisingly, the family may refuse to believe there is abuse in the relationship. Abusers can appear to be very charming and likable to outsiders. Sometimes, when a woman turns to her church for assistance, she is told she must stay in the marriage, because of her vows. Fortunately, these attitudes are beginning to change with a greater understanding of the horrible effects of abuse.

No place to go:

By the time she decides to leave, her abuser may have succeeded in isolating her from her family and friends. She may feel she has nowhere to go. She may be embarrassed to ask strangers for help and reluctant to go to a shelter, if there is one available.

Men often stay in abusive relationships for the following reasons:

Yes, men can be abused, too, and not because they are "wimps." Although the situation is somewhat different and usually involves mostly emotional abuse, and even though it is usually easier - financially speaking - for a man to leave the relationship, men often stay for various reasons.

Denial:

He may feel her abuse is caused by her emotional personality, PMS, or other hormone fluctuations. He decides to ignore her abuse because he loves her and wants the relationship to continue

Love:

In spite of the abuse, he may find enough good in the relationship to "make up" for the abuse.

Financial:

He may stay, not because he wouldn't be able to support himself, but because of the prospect of paying child support and alimony or dividing the marital assets. He may choose to stay until the children are grown and then leave.

Fear:

While a man may stay out of fear, it is more often fear of what she will do to herself, rather than what she might do to him. Abusive women often threaten suicide if her partner leaves. Additionally, she may have threatened to make trouble for him at his job.

Insulation:

It may be easier for a man to avoid or ignore abusive incidents if he has a demanding job, or reasons to be away from home regularly.

http://www.atthefence.com/reasons.htm
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Postby jocasey » Fri May 11, 2007 11:22 am

from my own experience id have to say ive stayed in an abusive relationship as i had a low self esteem....years of child abuse lead me to believe i was worthless even as an adult!..so id grab hold of the tiny bit of love my man showed me...id take the abuse he gave me coz i was used to it..it felt normal. id never realy known love and so had a distorted view of what love was.
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Postby Butterfly Faerie » Fri May 11, 2007 1:49 pm

Mine was the same, low self-steem, and I thought I loved him, plus what I was dealing with at the time I did't know was abusive.
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Postby Apache » Fri May 11, 2007 2:07 pm

Very cool of you sg to include the "other half" :wink:.

My gf has a mean streak and she's hit me a few times now. I wouldnt call it abuse though, more like burts or uncontrolled emotion. She has a sharp meaness in her tone like my father did. Leaves me feeling kind of paralized so i dont react. Its kind of funny because she started crying after she did it the first time and i ended up having to make her feel better. Its total minipulation and i recognize that. I know she's an abusive type. But the good times far outweight the bad.

And i think in most cases people stay in those relationship for that reason. In the begining atleast. Then i think they become to scared to leave. An abuser can take on the image of being unstopable in the victims mind. Might be a bad analogy but like coming across some unchained dog bareing its teeth. You stand there paralized and scared while it barks because you believe if you run it'll come after you and you'll be ###$.
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Postby Trina77 » Sun Jun 24, 2007 8:02 am

Many good points have been made. I'll add my own voice to 'self-esteem.' One thing abusers are very good at is making us believe we don't deserve any better, that no one can or would ever be willing to take care of us as well as he/she does, and that we would never make it alone. All untrue, but very powerful messages that we absolutely believe.

Unfortunately, too many of us make excuses and things continue until things become intolerable, and we stay even then, hoping things will get better. I did, for a long time.

I got out. It is possible to do. I've been gone for 3 yrs now (divorced for about a year and half), and though life isn't easy I'd never, ever go back to him. Nor, I hope, will I ever again fall for the kind of behavior that would draw me into an abusive relationship. I'd rather be alone than with an abuser.
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Postby shivers » Sun Jun 24, 2007 12:37 pm

I don't love him and I'm definately not afraid of living alone. In fact, that option is the most preferable one in my life at the moment.

After 5 years I've only labelled his actions within the relationship as 'abusive', prior to this I thought he was passive-aggressive, mean, nasty, selfish, arrogant and a liar. Now I know it's all rolled up under the abuse umbrella.

I stay because the fear of separating is greater than the fear of staying in regards to what he'll do after I leave and take our little daughter with me. My greatest fear is that he will have unsupervised access and during those weekends he could skip the country, or worse, inflict self-harm and harm on her, and yes, I legitimately fear the harm could be death. He ALWAYS said he'd NEVER resort to physical violence but he's proven that wrong recently. He also often criticises others for what he can see within himself (projection) and he is OFTEN criticising stories he hears of fathers who kill their kids then kill themselves. He wonders how they could ever do those type of things, but if you could hear how he criticises others for what he does himself, you'd be nervous about this too.

My partners MO is emotional abuse, in particular disrespectful of others personal space and boundaries, so while I'm here I can step in and protect my daughter from them when he does it to her. I shudder at the thought of leaving her alone with him at any time. But unless I can prove he's a druggie or alcoholic or a violent batterer towards her I don't have a hope in hell of gaining full custody.

In fact, with his cunning ways, it may even go the other way.

So I bide my time as best as can and distance myself and protect myself as best I can.
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Postby LoveQuiet » Sun Jun 24, 2007 12:50 pm

Wow, butterfly!
That's a great list for reference. ?Maybe should be a Sticky Post?

It seems that a couple common threads run through all the reasons:

• Powerlessness (real or believed)

• Low expectations (of what we're worth/deserve and how others should be expected to behave)

How liberating it would be for *so many* of our stuck places in life (not just abuse) if we could find the positive power within us each -- and claim our due as human beings and children of a Divine Source. In all religious teachings there is some version of "Love thy neighbor as thyself." In none of them does it say "instead of thyself."

Viva la liberation!
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