7 Reasons People Stay In Abusive Relationships

There are various reasons why people stay in abusive relationships. Even if you have never been in one, it is important to understand the complexities of the issue.
 
I remember when I heard about Chris Brown’s assault on Rihanna and how initially I placed the blame on her for not leaving.
 
Why did I do that? Why was my first thought to blame the victim?
 
It was easy for me to say what she should’ve done because I wasn’t placing myself in her shoes. Often, people don’t care about things that they’ve never experienced or things they don’t believe will ever affect them.
 
I didn’t know anything about abusive relationships because it was not something that I heard people talk about. It took one horrible relationship for me to realize that it’s not so easy to leave.
 
The mentality of “it will never happen to me” is dangerous. The reality is that it could happen to you or someone you know.
 
Understanding why people stay in abusive relationships is key to breaking the cycle.
 
I’ve compiled a list of some of the reasons why people might choose to stay with their toxic partner.
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1. Thinking Abuse is Normal

If you grew up witnessing domestic abuse, it might be difficult to recognize that your relationship is unhealthy.

And often when people think of an abusive relationship they disregard emotional abuse. How can one recognize emotional abuse if they don’t know about it?

Couples have their ups and downs, but there are traits that are healthy and some that aren’t. Emotional abuse isn’t as obvious as domestic abuse, so it may be difficult to spot.

2. Fear

If you are afraid of your partner, it becomes difficult to break-up.

The abuser may threaten the lives of their significant other, their family, friends, pets, or threaten to hurt or kill themselves. 

This makes the victim feel unsafe to leave.

3. Embarrassment

Victim’s of abuse may know that they are in an unhealthy relationship but feel like they can’t tell anyone in fear of being judged.

There is still this stigma placed on victims. People might view them as weak for choosing to stay, others question why they let the abuse continue, and so on.

They might also feel shame for becoming involved with such a partner.

4. Reliance On The Abuser

If they are dependent on their partner it becomes harder to imagine leaving.

They might feel like they have no one to turn to and nowhere to go. Feeling helpless makes it seem impossible to get out.

5. Family

If the couple is married or has children together, there may be pressure to keep the family together.

That pressure may come from the abusive partner or even the victim’s family.

Certain religions and cultures shame the abused for choosing to end the relationship, which makes it even harder to leave.

Also, the abusive partner may threaten to take or harm the children or other family members.

6. Low Self-Esteem

If someone is being verbal abused, it becomes easy to absorb those hurtful statements.

People stay in abusive relationships when the abuser is degrading them and making them believe that the abuse is their fault, or when they are being gaslighted.

They may make their partner feel like they will never find someone who loves them as much as they do. 

7. Love

You know the saying, “love makes you blind?” Well, it’s true.

The idea of “second chances” is prevalent in our society. Most believe that people are capable of change. The abuser may apologize for their behavior and you’ll believe them because you’re in love. 

Love may make victims blind to abuse.

Hoping that the abuser will snap out of it is a huge reason why people choose to stay in abusive relationships.
xx

How Can You Help?

It is important to recognize that abuse is not normal.

If you know someone who is in an abusive relationship, be supportive and listen to them.

Do not judge and let them know that it is not their fault. Know that leaving an unhealthy relationship isn’t easy and you can’t rescue them.

The best thing you can do is be there for your friend and encourage them to seek professional resources.


Help a friend, family member

Helping a teenager

The National Domestic Violence Hotline is open 24/7. 1-800-799-7233. 

1-800-787-3224 (TTY for Deaf/hard of hearing)

Or chat with someone from 7 A.M. – 2 A.M. central time. Click the “Chat Now” button on any page of this website.


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