10 Reasons Why Women Stay In Abusive Relationships 6 -10

10 Reasons Why Women Stay In Abusive Relationships 6 -10

10 Reasons Why Women Stay In Abusive Relationships 6 -10

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the reasons 6 through 10 why women stay in abusive marriages and relationships, and explain why outside men don’t understand women in these situations.

First a quick update:

“7 major warning signs in relationships”
There are things that you should never have to settle for in a relationship. Discover the major 7 as revealed by me to HerCampus.com.

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Now, let’s talk about the reasons 6 through 10 why women stay in abusive marriages and relationships, and explain why outside men don’t understand women in these situations.

In my article, the 10 reasons women stay in abusive relationships, I revealed the first 5 reasons and I referenced the incident in Australia where TV show host Joe Hildebrand admonished victims to get out of abusive relationships and said it is not an excuse to not report “child sex abuse by your partner because you are scared for your own safety…you have to get out, you absolutely have to get out…anything is better than staying in an abusive relationship.”

His comments created an uproar after a woman appeared on the show defending herself following the murder of her 11-year old son by her estranged & abusive husband.

Why do women stay in abusive relationships?

There are 10 primary reasons why victims of abusive relationships and marriages find it impossible to break away and often return more than once; the reasons can be divided into mental/emotional, physical, financial, social and spiritual blocks. Here are reasons 6 – 10. For the first five reasons why women stay in abusive relationships, click here. 

Mental/Emotional Reasons

6. Stockholm Syndrome – I love him and can’t help but defend him; I can’t survive without him
This phenomenon is what gives the abuser the ultimate control over his/her victim. The Stockholm Syndrome refers to the mental, emotional and physical bond that hostages experience as they empathize and become emotionally attached, even forming a romantic bond with the kidnapper/hostage taker on whom they depend for survival. In the context of a marriage or romantic coupling, the abuser has even greater power over this abused victim who often shares a child and also depends on the abuser for food, water, shelter and affection. She truly feels and believes she can’t live or survive without the abuser.

Listen to my exclusive interview with the world’s top expert on trauma bonding & the Stockholm Syndrome, Dr. Frank Ochberg: “Abusive relationships & The Stockholm Syndrome” 

7. Financial – We can’t live without him
This is the second greatest reason that many women cannot leave the abuser: they do not have the financial resources to survive or to take care of their children. This has become more common with women who are older and have limited education, resources or work experience. Accordingly, they stay in the abusive relationship to feed their children and offer them a place to live.

“Results indicated that both economic dependence and [psychological] commitment were significantly, and independently, related to decisions to leave an abusive relationship.” – Michael J. Strube (Washington University) and Linda S. Barbour (University of Utah) “The decision to leave an abusive relationship: economic dependence and psychological commitment”  https://www.jstor.org/stable/351791?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

8. Physical fear – He will kill me and my children if I leave
As explained in No. 3 (“Fear and stress”), there is a constant fear for one’s survival – a fear of imminent death. The abuse and the constant elevated stress levels also create other illnesses and injuries, further trapping the victim and leaving her feeling physically weak, anxious and exhausted. Often the abuser will also threaten to kill the woman and children if she leaves; attempts to escape often result in more beatings and abuse.

9. Social & support system – I have nowhere to go
Despite the existence of shelters for battered women, most women don’t have the support system to leave the abusive relationship. They fear that they don’t have anywhere to go, and no one to help them and look after them & their children. Often the law isn’t enough to protect them – they need to provide evidence of the abuse, and the police can’t watch and protect them 24/7.

10. Spiritual – God forbids divorce; I took an oath
Religious beliefs can also bind a woman to an abusive relationship based upon commitment and oaths, and even religious guilt where divorce is sinful, forbidden or frowned upon, or where teachings promote that the woman must be submissive to the man and that he is always right.

It is sincerely challenging for people who have never experienced abuse to understand the chains that bind a victim to the abuser and relationship. It is even harder for men to understand women’s responses to abusive relationships because they approach the situation with logic – cause & effect i.e. Joe Hildebrand’s comments to “get out…anything is better than staying in an abusive relationship.” Men peering from the outside (i.e. not involved) also conclude that if the woman is staying in the abusive relationship, then she must enjoy the beatings, is choosing it, and therefore deserves what she gets.

Further, only victims of domestic violence truly understand that even when the woman has escaped the abusive relationship, the pain, horror and suffering do not instantly disappear; many women who struggle often return to the abusive relationship, and more than once. Studies reveal that women that leave often suffer psychologically even more than when they were in the abusive relationship, unless they get the real help they need to deal with:

  • The abuse in this and other former relationships
  • Childhood abuse (most adult victims were also childhood victims or grew up around domestic violence)
  • The trauma
  • The subconscious programming along with the various emotions listed above – particularly the shame, guilt and the subconscious belief that they deserve to be treated this way and that family violence is a normal dynamic; abuse victims often have never experienced anything different.

“In addition, women still involved with their abusive partners are not differentiated from those no longer involved in terms of their level of psychosocial adjustment…our data, suggests that merely leaving an abusive relationship does not necessarily facilitate a woman’s level of psychosocial adjustment.” – Tracy Bennet Herbert (University of California, Los Angeles), Roxane Cohen Silver (University of California, Irvine) and John H. Ellard (University of Calgary) “Coping with an abusive relationship: How and why women stay”

The other missing factor/reason that some women stay in abusive relationships is when the woman also has a problem of alcohol or substance abuse. And if both partners are abusing drugs and alcohol, then it is even harder to escape.

Finally, it is not enough for people to shout slogans to stop domestic violence, the problem has to be addressed at 2 levels:

1. End the cycle: parents need to raise children (sons and daughters) to respect each other and learn how to
express emotions, deal with emotions and communicate without violence

2. Build support systems for women: programs for education, employment, self-esteem, health, and absence of economic hardships

If you have experienced abuse and need assistance to overcome the trauma and find the authentic you, to heal and begin a new life, consider a one on one session with me.

You can read the first 5 reasons women stay in abusive relationships here.

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
www.patrickwanis.com

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5 replies
  1. Avatar
    Ann says:

    I was physically abused as a child – from age 9-18 by my Mother. However, in two separate instances after the
    FIRST time my boyfriend “strong-hold” me. Another raised his hand. That was it. PERIOD. No more boyfriend.
    If a woman is afraid of what might happen to her if she leaves. Tell a friend or family member. Love ones will be
    supportive if you go to them – in some cases, make it known to boyfriend that he best not go near ex.
    I have yet to hear a women state that she went to friends and or family about being hit, etc.( IMMMEDIATELY. Tell a loved one; friend/family.
    The BIGGEST, most IMPORTANT FACTOR is that one needs to, MUST leave the relationship upon the FIRST SIGN
    of abuse. That the boyfriend has a problem with physical abuse. STOPPED before it truly STARTS is the KEY. NOONE – that I seen (including on Dr. Phil, etc.) has addressed that issue; stopping a problem BEFORE it starts.
    So, one is not “caught up” in it all. “Feeling bad” for the crying, begging boyfriend that beats you!
    Example: Meredith Vieira stating about the FIRST instance was her boyfriend grabbing her arm so hard it left
    bruises. (Does she come from an abusive household, growing up?) That is when she should have left! You don’t
    wait to see if it will continue/get worse. No matter how fond you are of that person. The first time u the bruises
    are left on you it became their LOSS – losing you. Because you weren’t going to WAIT AROUND and see how it
    plays out. The SIGNS that things would ONLY GET WORSE were there that FIRST TIME.

  2. Avatar
    Jennifer Rodriguez says:

    Thank you Patrick! This blog post was so well-written. My favorite quote: “It is sincerely challenging for people who have never experienced abuse to understand the chains that bind a victim to the abuser and relationship. It is even harder for men to understand women’s responses to abusive relationships because they approach the situation with logic – cause & effect…Men peering from the outside (i.e. not involved) also conclude that if the woman is staying in the abusive relationship, then she must enjoy the beatings, is choosing it, and therefore deserves what she gets.”
    I hope that more people read this blog post of yours because people need to realize that this is a situation that has to be approached with emotional intelligence not more laws imposing “order”. I loved the solutions you provided at the end. It is the most practical way to solve the problem. As a survivor of domestic violence and having witnessed these types of situations myself, I want to thank you for trying to spread more emotional intelligence about the issue. Thank you! Thank you!

    • Avatar
      Patrick Wanis says:

      Dear Jennifer,
      thanks for your kind words and compliments. I am sincerely happy that my article is beneficial to you and others.
      All the best,
      Patrick

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