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.
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
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.