MDJunction - People Helping People
Ask a Question
02/28/2011 05:31 PM

Why do women stay with abusers?

goldie321Posts: 193

Found a site that hits the nail on the head pretty good. I've run into too many people who've told me I'm crazy, ask what's wrong with me, actually tell me I'm stupid for putting up with what I do, EVEN after I tell them I plan to leave.

I've even heard this from women who were in abusive relationships themselves...It's so much easier to make judgments when you're on the ouside looking in. A lot of respectable, intelligent women struggle in abusive marriages for years..I copied and pasted half the reasons from this site here.

Insecurity about being alone, on her own; she's afraid she can't cope with home and children by herself.

Loyalty. "He's sick; if he had a broken leg or cancer--I would stay. This is no different."

Pity. He's worse off than she is; she feels sorry for him.

Wanting to help. "If I stay I can help him get better."

Fear that he will commit suicide if she leaves (often he's told her this).

Denial. "It's really not that bad. Other people have it worse."

Love. Often, the abuser is quite loving and lovable when he is not being abusive.

Love, especially during the "honeymoon" stage; she remembers what he used to be like.

Guilt. She believes--and her partner and the other significant others are quick to agree--that their problems are her fault.

Shame and humiliation in front of the community. "I don't want anyone else to know."

Unfounded optimism that the abuser will change.

Unfounded optimism that things will get better, despite all evidence to the contrary.

Learned helplessness. Trying every possible method to change something in our environment, but with no success, so that we eventually expect to fail. Feeling helpless is a logical response to constant resistance to our efforts. This can be seen with prisoners of war, people taken hostage, people living in poverty who cannot get work, etc.

False hope. "He's starting to do things I've been asking for." (counseling, anger management, things she sees as a chance of improvement.)

Guilt. She believes that the violence is caused through some inadequacy of her own (she is often told this); feels as though she deserves it for failing.

Responsibility. She feels as though she only needs to meet some set of vague expectations in order to earn the abuser's approval.

Insecurity over her potential independence and lack of emotional support.

Guilt about the failure of the marriage/relationship.

Demolished self-esteem. "I thought I was too (fat, stupid, ugly, whatever he's been calling her) to leave."

Lack of emotional support--she feels like she's doing this on her own, and it's just too much.

Simple exhaustion. She's just too tired and worn out from the abuse to leave.


02/28/2011 06:02 PM
Meg1129Posts: 14593
Group Leader

There are a lot of good points there! Add to those that a lot of abused women have not worked in years, have no money of their own and their abuser has driven off most if not all of their family and friends. Additionally, a lot of them have had it drummed into their heads that the abuse is all their fault and that they are going to lose their children and maybe even their lives if they even try to leave him. There are an awful lot of reasons why a victim stays.

That's why we encourage reading (knowledge is power!) and baby steps. Sometimes tiny little steps that are only 1/4" further than you were yesterday! Even 1/4" of progress counts as progress. Before you can begin believing in yourself and make changes, you need to deprogram yourself and come out of the fog. The healing journey is very personal and unique to every individual.

When I was with my ex, I heard those comments too. My best advice is to not talk about these matters with anyone who had made a comment that is not supportive of you. There is no sense in making yourself feel worse and they really do not know your exact situation. If I ever told a friend something and got an unsupportive comment, I would mentally put that person on my "Do Not Confide In - Only Call for Fun Times" list and change the subject. Thankfully you have this board which is FULL of people who completely understand where you are! Smile

02/28/2011 06:13 PM


Are you saying that if someone says something that YOU feel is "not supportive" then you do not confide in them anymore?

Sometimes we need to hear something that we may not "want" to hear.

Sometimes the truth hurts.

I would rather hear the truth and be hurt than live a lie.

Isn't that love too?

Just wondering.

Enjoy your night! Wink

02/28/2011 06:28 PM
Meg1129Posts: 14593
Group Leader

Absolutely that's what I'm saying. Everyone has THEIR version of the truth which may not be truth at all. Whenever someone doesn't have all the facts of a situation, all they can offer is an opinion. In cases of abuse, a lot of victims are standing on shaky feet just beginning to consider that maybe there is hope after all. They need support and encouragement, not more bullying.

02/28/2011 06:38 PM

I am talking about love & support from a friend or a family member.

NOT from the "abusive person"

I just wanted to be clear.

A lot of times when we are in the midst of things or in a situation that is abusive we cannot see things clearly.

Does that make sense to you?

I would not "bully" anyone.

I am trying to empower someone to know that they can be okay. Smile

I think that is being a loving and caring Friend to someone.

I guess life is all about perception.


I welcome your input.


02/28/2011 07:14 PM
Meg1129Posts: 14593
Group Leader

Sometimes people think they are helping when they are actually making a problem worse. Not everyone can see that though and some people, abusers especially, couch criticism and blaming as "truth" when it really isn't.

02/28/2011 07:18 PM


I agree.

Abusers are manipulative.

I think they are actually living in their own reality.

Which is usually is not reality at all.

Do you agree?

BUT....I am talking about someone that is NOT the abuser.

How could I stand back and allow someone that I love and care be abused emotionally and or physically?

I could not live with myself if I did not at least try.

I would hope you could understand and respect my point of view.

Post edited by: amazing1, at: 02/28/2011 07:20 PM

02/28/2011 07:19 PM
Posts: 412

Goldie, your post made me cry. I have wanted to leave my husband for at least 10 years. I have journaled everything I have dealt with, read it over and over. Still, today I started to think, He has his good points, we have had a lot of good times, he was suicidal a couple weeks ago, what will people think if I leave him now. We are separated because the court put a restraining order on him after he shot a gun in the house (he shot the ceiling) and became suicidal. Now he is counseling (not court ordered). He has "found God" and started going to church, reading the bible (he did not believe in organized religion a few months ago). So I sit here and feel guilty for wanting to end the relationship. After all he is going to counseling. He has sent me emails (that's the only contact we are allowed to have), pleading with me, telling me he will never say a mean thing to me again, he will always respect my opinion, blah, blah, blah. He begged me to drop the restraining order so he can come home.

After feeling guilty all day, then reading your post, I feel much better. I can identify with so many of the the statements.

02/28/2011 07:23 PM


I was with a man (I use that word reluctantly) for many years that would threaten me that if I left him he would kill himself.

I eventually left.

I am grateful each day that I did! Smile

He is still alive! Just wanted to share this with you.

I will keep you in my prayers!

Be safe! jk

02/28/2011 08:00 PM
Posts: 29

as someone who just got left by her abuser. I have no idea why we stay with them. Its like you have 2 brains the one saying nothing is wrong its fine. Then the other brain saying its your fault if you would not make him so angry he would not hit you. But really when you step back and look at the situation you see the signs you didn't see before and that no one deserves to be treated that way. Unfourtunate for me I always blame myself then when the guy dumps me then only can I see his faults. I need to work on myself alot before I can ever date agian I really don't even want to right now. maybe one day. sorry to be so doom and gloom really depressed right now. I'm glad to see so many strong women on this site.

Share this discussion with your friends:
<< Start < Prev 1 Next > End >>

Disclaimer: The information provided in MDJunction is not a replacement for medical diagnosis, treatment, or professional medical advice.
In case of EMERGENCY call 911 or 1.800.273.TALK (8255) to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Read more.
Contact Us | About Us
Copyright (c) 2006-2014 All Rights Reserved