5 Reasons Women Stay
Abuse and Self Care

5 Reasons Women Stay

A classic question from people when they realize you are or were in an abusive relationship is “Why did you stay?” It’s an incredibly complex question and the answers are probably different, depending on who you ask.

Here are five reasons to consider:

They don’t know how to leave: It sounds almost silly, doesn’t it? They don’t know how to leave?! But it’s so much more than that. Depending on how dangerous their situation is, leaving can be profoundly terrifying and take intricate planning to get out alive. Therefore, the why they don’t is pretty complicated.

They’re too afraid: Simply put, sometimes leaving can be just as (or sometimes more) dangerous than staying. Leaving can incite rage in their abuser and they may hurt them as they go, or hunt them down and do the unthinkable.

They worry about finances: It’s easy to judge and say “The heck with money, I’d leave!” But when you’ve been undermined and made to fear for so long, and the abuser has probably convinced the abused that they can’t possibly make it on their own, they believe it. So even though they want to be safe and want to do the best for their children, having the ability to provide for their children can be pretty frightening too. And it may even feel selfish to the abused (in a situation where the children aren’t also abused). “If we leave, I take my children away from a comfortable life, maybe their schools, a dad they love, and all because am being abused and want to be more comfortable?”

They have nowhere to go: There aren’t shelters or any type of help in all communities. To my knowledge, no such place existed in my town. Did I have friends and family? Of course. But when you consider that you’re uprooting your life and expecting someone else to basically take in your family, it’s very scary. And then thinking beyond that, they’re going to eventually expect you to leave so…back to that financial thing. They may not have a solid support system that’s so necessary and helpful in such a situation as this.

They believe their mate will change: That was me. I’ve been asked why I stayed. Sometimes the question dripped with judgement. Sometimes it was asked genuinely out of interest and an attempt at understanding. From my experience and what I know from speaking with others, an abuser often has glimpses of greatness: times when they’re pretty wonderful and act like you always wish they would. Then they’re “gone again” and back to their hurtful behavior after a day or week, whatever. Those glimpses often give me, us, survivors, just enough hope to believe if they can be normal for a day or a week, they can do it all the time, and that eventually, they will. But here’s the rub: unless they can admit they need help and get it, they’re not going to change, and no amount of hoping is going to make it happen.

If you’re in an abusive relationship or have been in one, what keeps you there? What are your fears about leaving? Or staying? How can I help? I may not be physically there, but I do have a good listening ear, if you want to comment or message.

You’re not alone,

signature Melanie in aqua color

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  • Reply Olivia March 2, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Good read! Thanks for sharing… ive seen someone very close to me be in a abusive relationship and it took very extreme measures for her to finally leave…. Thank you for explaining some reasons… those who have never been involved in an abusive relationship are quick to judge and refuse to listen!!

  • Reply Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard March 2, 2017 at 11:13 am

    #5!! For sure. We keep hoping they will be the man we dated, the guy we get glimpses of, the man we THOUGHT we married. The what ifs make you fearful. I thought I couldn’t afford my house and expenses alone. Turns out I had more money without his spending it all. But we let that fear control and bind us. I would add #6 – They’ve convinced us that we are unlovable or crazy, somehow worthless and we’re afraid no one else will ever want to be with us. We’re afraid if we leave we will always be alone. But I’ve learned our value is found in our Father, not a man, and that being alone is better than being lonely with someone. And that God will bring people alongside us. But it is hard to make that decision to end an abusive relationship.
    Jennifer DeFrates/Heaven Not Harvard recently posted…The Bizarre thing I’m giving up for lent that will make me a better momMy Profile

    • Reply melaniespickett@gmail.com March 8, 2017 at 9:46 pm

      So true, all that you said. I spoke on Facebook Live and mentioned that Jennifer (you!) brought up this additional point. Thank you for that!

  • Reply Ola March 2, 2017 at 1:09 pm

    I’ve never been in an abusive relationship, but I unfortunately know a few who have. I’ve seen all the roadblocks you’ve mentioned above. One thing I would include is that sometimes an abused person doesn’t go to family, because they’re afraid of endangering them too. It’s such an incredibly tough situation.

    I’ll be sure to share this post .

  • Reply Clearissa Coward March 3, 2017 at 10:09 am

    Thia certainly resonated with me. I stayed at least 5 years too long. I just wanted him to change and be who he portrayed himself to be when we first married. Bottom line, I loved him and I did not want to be a failure like so many others in my family. I wanted that happy ending. Had it been just him and me, I probably would have stuck it out, but I could not bare the look of pain on my daughter’s face one more day and so I packed the two of us up and left and I have no regrets. Well, perhaps one regret…I wish I had mustered up the courage to leave 5 years sooner. Great article.

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