Why Do They Stay?

I remember a time when I was of the attitude that if any man ever hit me, I was outta there. This attitude was a part of me, even as a teenager. I'd tell people things like: Battered women should just call the police, and get the jerk out of their life. So easy to say, not so easy to do, as I would later find out. So why do women stay?

There are many reasons that women stay in abusive relationships, and most of those reasons are a product of the relationship itself. The underlying reason though, is FEAR. What are these women afraid of; what could be worse than the abuse itself?

1. Fear of being homeless
2. Fear of going hungry
3. Fear of being alone
4. Fear of being hunted down and brought back
5. Fear of being killed
6. Fear of not being able to care for or protect their children
7. Fear of publicity (exposure of a secret)
8. Fear of judgement by others (why does she stay?)
9. Social stigma
10. Fear of being stalked
11. Lack of self-confidence

The cycle of abuse messes with a woman's perception of self and the rest of the world around her. The abuser often uses money, isolation, and insecurity to keep the woman from seeking help, or outright leaving.

Some women have no access to money, as their abuser controls it all. Some women are not allowed to work outside the home, so that the abuser can maintain a higher level of control. The abuser will isolate the woman from family and friends so that she has no perceived support, emotional or otherwise. It is hard to leave, when you think have no place to go, or no money to get there.

Abusers manipulate the woman's mind in an effort to keep her as off-balance as possible, making his control over her easier to maintain. Many women think that they are crazy, because their abuser does and say things that contradict other things they've said and done.

Another reason some women stay in an abusive relationship is that they genuinely love their partner, and have been programed to think that all of this is their own fault; therefore, if they just do things the way he wants them done, everything will be all right. The rub here is that no matter what she does, she will never do it right, in his mind. Women also have the innate nature to nurture. They want to help their partner change. (quit drinking, using drugs,etc.) The abuser feeds off this too.

An abuser will not change until they see the need for change, and since they live for control, they are not likely to see any need. Things are going fine in their perception of the world.

Most women who are psychologically and emotionally abused, don't know that they are being victimized, simply because they've not been physically assaulted. And those that do realize it, don't think that others she'd reach out to would believe her. Her abuser leaves no visable sign. And let's face it... one does not leave an intimate relationship without everyone they know wanting to know why. (fear of judgment) The last thing she needs to hear from those around her is: What a jerk! What did you do to set him off? Why do you let him treat you that way. Don't you think you could work it out?

By all means, get couseling for yourself; that is something you must do, but don't wait around for him to join you. He probably never will. He doesn't see a problem with his behavior.

It would not be fair to say that all abusers are hopeless and will not change their behavior; however, those that do are more the exception, not the rule.
If you suspect that someone you know is in an abusive relationship, reach out to them. You could be saving a life.


My Journey
A Lifetime of Verse
by Trina L.C. Sonnenberg

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Healthy Living
Publisher: Trina L.C. Sonnenberg

Copyright © 2007
Trina L.C. Sonnenberg
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