Many people are in abusive relationships, staying for several reasons. Maybe you’re that friend that’s often said, “Just leave!” It may not be that simple.
I’ve been in abusive relationships before, and I can tell you it’s not as easy as it may seem to just up and leave. While, to the outside world, you know, friends and family, it may look like a simple problem to solve, but it’s not always like that.
You see, there are many reasons why people stay. Be it logical or downright strange, some people just cannot make themselves leave.
Why do we stay in abusive relationships?
Like I said, it’s complicated. There are factors that make leaving an abusive relationship hard to do sometimes. And I know that you should leave an abusive situation, but when should you do this?
You see, things are never as clear-cut as you want them to be. Worry for that abused friend all you like, but until they understand it’s time to go, they’re not budging. Here are a few reasons why.
1. Destruction of self-esteem
Believe it or not, some people cannot see emotional abuse.
I can attest to this, as I was emotionally abused for over 15 years. My self-esteem kept taking hits, as I was starting to believe that all the things happening to me was my fault. I even went to therapy for myself because apparently, I was the problem. I went as far as taking medication to never question my husband or ask for better treatment.
My self-esteem was so low that I was gaslit constantly. I didn’t leave because I honestly felt like no one else would have me. With carefully calculated words and actions, my husband made me believe the things he did that were wrong were either in my imagination, or they were all my fault. And so, I stayed.
2. The never-ending forgiveness tricks
Yes, we are supposed to forgive those who hurt us. However, this does not mean we need to stay with them.
When I was younger, in this abusive relationship, I had a “never give up” mentality about my husband. I forgave him over and over and constantly prayed that he would change. The relationship went through cycles until eventually, I did leave.
You see, while others may be telling you to end the relationship, you’re fighting with all you must save the union through forgiveness. We stay because we believe that it’s right to stand by your partner through good and bad and all that other marriage vow stuff.
3. Pressure from others
Whether it’s the church, your family, or even your abusive mate, sometimes you are pressured to stay in the relationship. Maybe you’re told that it’s just the right thing to do. Maybe you hear the words,
“The problems you’re going through are just tests to make you stronger”.
Yeah, I’ve heard it all. And it’s true that you want it to be better, but you should never give in to pressure from other people or establishments that tell you to stay with someone who is abusive. It’s your life and you should use common sense to understand the truth of your situation.
Be honest with yourself, do you ever think things will change?
4. Staying for the children
So many abusive relationships continue because there are children in the family. The partners just don’t want to split up the relationship because they’re afraid of hurting their kids. And with the abuse, some families experience good times, seeing their children laugh.
So, they just cannot stomach ending the relationship. Okay, no. Please don’t stay just because you have children together. Most of the time, the abuse gets worse, and your children will see this happening to you. They may even think it’s the way that women or men are supposed to be treated.
5. Society thinks it’s normal
Some of the abusive actions in relationships are seen as normal by society. Insulting each other, screaming, and throwing things – this behavior is laughed at by those who see it from the outside. And honestly, this type of behavior is abuse – it’s verbal and emotional abuse.
While society doesn’t generally see physical abuse as normal, even some forms of pushing around are seen as a joke. And if society sees these things as normal, an abused person is less likely to leave.
6. Economic dependence
Some people remain in abusive relationships simply because they cannot afford to leave. If the abusive partner provides all the income, and there’s no one to help the victim escape, it can be a stuck situation.
This is especially true for parents who sometimes think about leaving with their children. So, in this case, people stay in abusive relationships because they aren’t self-sufficient.
7. Staying out of fear
There are those who fear leaving their abusers. Sometimes, the abuser will even threaten their partner, saying that if they ever leave, they will harm them or even worse. This sort of talk is terrifying for the victim of abuse, and they usually just commit to staying in the relationship no matter what happens.
Unfortunately, most of the time, an abuser who threatens is already physically harming their partner. While I didn’t endure as much physical abuse as others may have, I’ve been threatened in other ways. And I once believed my life could be in danger if I left. And so, I understand this feeling.
Breaking these cycles
Not all these things will be easy to escape. Some of them deal with how you feel about yourself, while others deal with fear and physical dependence. Here are a few tips.
1. Get a job
While some partners try to prevent you from working, if they allow it, then work, save your money, and you will be able to move out. If they have a problem with you working, try to find a friend that can help you out. There are even places where single mothers can stay when they need help getting away from abuse.
2. Getting professional help is a good idea
The trick is, when you go to a therapist for help, make sure you tell them everything. Hopefully, they can help you understand that what’s happening to you is not your fault. If you’re a friend of an abused person, offer help in any way, but be careful not to cause more trouble for them.
My trick was going to the mental health center to “fix my problems” while secretly telling them what my abusive husband was doing to me. They helped me build up my self-esteem, so I was brave enough to get a job and then leave.
3. Be realistic
If you’re caught in a cycle of good partner/bad partner/then good partner all over again, you need a dose of reality. Listen, after the first year of this back and forth good/bad treatment, it’s obvious that they are not going to change. They are not going to be respectful to you on a regular basis.
If you continue to stay in this relationship, it will always be like a roller coaster from hell.
4. Seek help
No matter how normal other people may see your situation, if you feel like you’re being abused, get help. Society is, in my opinion, pretty screwed up, for the most part, so don’t let others tell you how you’re supposed to feel.
For those who keep telling others to “just leave!”, please be patient and a bit more understanding. If you’ve never been in an abusive relationship, then you have no idea how manipulative it can be. You don’t understand how difficult and frightening it may feel to someone who is torn about how to improve their own lives.
So, before being judgmental, try to be kind. Offer help when you can and most of all, just be there for your friends and family who go through these things. However, if you think someone is in danger, act. Sometimes these things can become deadly.
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