Why do Some Women Stay in Abusive Relationships?







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QUESTION for Discussion

Abuse and battery can be physical, emotional or psychological. There are many women who leave their abusive relationships while there are also many who stay in them.

Isn’t it funny how others look at the abused/battered woman and criticize her for staying without understanding all the underlying issues. I mean, no woman should be forced to stay in such situations but how does she balance all the odds working against her to grab that opportunity to free herself?

  • If you are in an abusive relationship/marriage, what is keeping you there?
  • If you know someone who is in such a relationship/marriage, why do you think she stays?
  • Why do some women stay and others go? What is responsible for the difference in their decisions?

Let me see: She is uneducated and naive, right? She has low self esteem, right? Oh, no other man would want a battered woman, right?

Woman, man or expert, Please COMMENT below. Read what others already wrote. Write as much as you wish!


“Why Judging and Blaming the Woman Can Worsen Domestic Violence” by Delina Cummings, click link


“Why Some Women May Stay in Abusive Relationships” by Zoe Mendez click the link below


14 thoughts on “Why do Some Women Stay in Abusive Relationships?

  1. These question has bothered the minds of many in society which often times make hasty conclusions as to why they stay. In fact there are a lot of myths about why women do stay. Woman to Woman would like to hear the views of both men and women so we can all gain a wider perspective of the issue and reasons.

  2. myhypotheticaldivorce

    i have to chime in- even at 56k way up in the mountains. the first and most devastating reason that women stay is illustrated by the statistical evidence that:


    even women who perhaps haven’t heard about this instinctually know that they are at high risk when they endeavor to leave. it’s really just simple addition. he’s nuts, he’s volatile and if i leave it’s gonna most def piss him off. high stress + change = unpredictable results.

    for many women i think the second reason is:


    for women already in crisis, the emotional and financial costs of leaving may seem insurmountable when a child’s health and well being are also at stake. it’s easy to say… “hey (expletive) it if i have to live in my car for a couple of months.” when you are not a parent. it’s not easy to uproot a child, especially if no harm has ever come to the child, just to ensure your own safety. most battered women with children have already been controlled by their abuser with isolation and financial dependency. that leaves women with very few resources to fend for themselves much less protect and provide for a child.

    the fact that our family courts are broken into pieces doesn’t help either. some women find the task of a divorce terrifying when our courts favor the parent most likely to cooperate. battered women are seen as over protective in private courtrooms and currently many of their children have been or will be sent with their abusive fathers (who appear more composed in court) only to be battered themselves or even die. women who are aware of this epidemic as well as women who are not have good reason to fear divorce and custody battles that they engage their abusers in. abusive people are, after all, astoundingly good manipulators.

    okay- that’s my beef. that’s why my divorce is hypothetical. here’s what better educated people are saying:


    1. Isn’t it funny how others look at the abused/battered woman and criticize her for staying without understanding all the underlying issues. I mean, no woman should be forced to stay in such situations but how does she balance all the odds working against her and at the same time grab that opportunity to free herself?

  3. Not only do I have a blog but I mentor women online coming out of abusive relationships. I learned something HUGE – Stockholm Syndrome. Yes, brainwashed, mind controlled women who are bonded to the abuse and simply can’t even think about leaving. Fear and brainwashing keep them in the relationship.

    I strongly recommend every woman get and read a book called WOMEN WHO LOVE PSYCHOPATHS by Sandra Brown, MA. It’s not on Amazon – there’s a link on my blog and I don’t make a dime on it. It’s vital information – don’t be put off by the title. You’ll learn loads about the victim side of the abuse dynamic.

    1. Thank you so much for your visit and response. Thanks for the book recommendation. I trust women will buy and read the book. I have also read about the learned helplessness (Battered women’s Syndrome) which Lenore Walker talk about in her book Battered Woman.

      1. myhypotheticaldivorce

        i actually believe that the learned helplessness theory is total crap, woman- blaming and mental illness marking pseudo science.

        just a thought.

        1. I think there is merit in the learned helplessness (battered woman syndrome). Lenore Walker articulated the concept quite eloquently in her Battered Woman book. You should read the book. In fact I recommend it to all women in abusive relationships. There is also “Free yourself from an abusive relationship: 7 steps to getting your life back” by Andrea Lissette. Again, I do recommend. Lisette also alluded to the learned helplessness theory which I believe was first introduced by Walker or at least expounded by her.

    2. Anonymous

      Hello, I was wondering how would a woman like me, that have been physically & mentally abused help others without a degree. I would like to mentor and develop women into breaking free.

      1. Dearest, I’m sorry to hear about your abusive experience. You’re a strong woman. The fact that you want to help other women avoid or end abuse in their lives is highly commendable. You do not need a degree to mentor women like yourself. Your EXPERIENCE is your DEGREE. Experience is the greatest teacher, though it often comes at a high cost. While getting certified will help, you do not need to wait for that before you reach out to other women. Let me know how Woman to Woman can futher help you in your bid to move past your experience and to help others. Stay blessed strong woman.

        If you wish to send us an email about your story and have it posted anyonymously, we can do so. We are sure it will be a motivator for other women. Email us at womantowomansite@gmail.com


    I believe there are several factors that cause women to stay in abusive relationships are FEAR, SEX, MONEY, STATUS and SHAME. I don’t really embrace the fact that they stay because they can’t leave, that I suppose maybe worse case scenario. I believe that by the time they realized the man of their dreams is a monster they are in way too deep and don’t know how to get out. Get a life outside of your relationship what ever you do. Hold on to some part of your individuality it is important for your future.

    One of the things I noticed is that men who are abusive, the first thing they do is they totally isolate their partners from family and or friends, a slow process that if it goes unchecked, you won’t noticed that you are alone and have no friends until you need help and there is no one there.

    The unfortunate things is that most of these guys are good looking or attractive men, with great jobs, great personality etc, the type of guy that any woman may give an arm and a leg to be with. Whenever you are out in public the same man that treats his woman like trash when no one is looking, treats her like a Queen when out in the public’s eye. So anyone looking in sees a perfect relationship but to the woman at home he is a monster.

    I have witness this first hand. I met and became friends with someone who was dating a much older man, she eventually confided in me that she was very unhappy he was abusive and cruel, some of the things she shared, my conclusion was that the man was sick. I could not believe that another human being would treat another in some of the saddistic ways that she described.

    Prior to her sharing her secret with me, I met him on a few occasions and I never liked him, his aura was dark and evil. I visited their home once and he was the perfect host, and gentleman, making sure everyone’s needs were catered to. I am probably the only one that he never won over, even before she confided in me, something about him crawled my blood. When no one was there she suffered but yet she stayed. I asked her why is she staying with him. When I listened to her, in her mind she was with a nice “big man” who had a nice so-called nice “big 3 bedroom house” (little did she know it was just an average house in a middle class neighbourhood), drove a nice ride, had money, (of which she didn’t spend any of). Every day I would let her know how much better she deserved. He dictated down to whether or not she could shave her private parts. She stayed with him for a year and at Christmas she told him she was going to visit her children and she never looked back, leaving so much of her personal possessions behind, just so he did not become suspicious of her not returning. One of the things she feared the most was the fact that he was a licensed fire arm holder and he had threatened to kill her. I eventually found out that she came from a very poor family, had only a basic primary education, though she had a skill that made her a reasonable amount of money, in her mind being with someone that appeared to have some status and class, meant the world to her. It pushed her up a couple notches above her friends therefore she endured the abuse so that she can look good on the outside to the folks who were looking on.

    Another reason I believe woman stay in abusive relationships is because they get hooked on the sex. Many women unfortunately equate good, fantastic sex with love. You may not feel wanted outside of the bedroom but behind closed doors, the same man makes you feel like you are on top of the world and some where in the mind, there is that level of confidence or comfort that convinces that it is love. Abusive men are weak, they convince you that they love you and that they would change because they cry and plead and beg you to stay, and sex is the topping. The ones who have the money to burn would dish it out on jewelry, other expensive gifts etc to make their point.

    Shame and pride I believe is the ultimate reason out of all, it doesn’t matter what the scenario is. I was with a man who was exhibiting the signs of being abusive very early in our relationship, he never raised his hand at me but the signs were slowly raising its ugly head. I am convinced that he even orchestrated down to my pregnancy. It was his way of keeping me under his thumb. I was independent, had a job that caused me to travel too much for his liking so this was a major conflict for us, well mostly him because I refused to give up what I did, my job was my passion and I truly love my career. So within the first 6mths of our relationship I discovered I was pregnant. It should have been a happy moment for me but I was devastated, I had a decision to make. Prior to my pregnancy I knew I did not want to stay with him, I didn’t even like the country, but I stayed, I already had a 12 year old and really wanted a shot of having a real family for my children.

    I spent a lot of time praying asking God for his guidance. Luckily for me I had some really good, sensible pastorship. And I learnt very early that a woman should never stay in a abusive relationship praying to God for deliverance, if you didn’t want to end up in a body bag, get out is what I heard. Unfortunately some churches are still very religious, which is to the psychological, mental and physical detriment of many individuals. We have to be smart. Love is not suppose to hurt.
    My partner and I had an argument that we/I never recovered from, withing a month of I moving in with him, I knew I was not in a good place. I consciously decided that there was no way I was going to submit myself and my children to that kind of environment. I grew up with a father who to date I still believe has some serious issues, growing up my environment was very negative and I did not want any part of that in my adult life. So it was easy for me to choose because I was clear about what I didn’t want.

    The first time the remote control when flying into the wall in the middle of the night was my final warning, I was overwhelmed with the thought of me being next. The very next day after he left for work I called my friend to get me, my things were already pack because I was getting ready for a business trip. I was five months pregnant. I decided in my mind that I don’t care who think what at that time, I was not the first or last woman who was in that position, I put aside what ever shame and pride that lingered and did what was best for me and my loves. I left his house with my stuff, a few days later, the country and I never saw him again, 7 years ago. In a way I am happy that his pride got the better of him, there was no drama.

    I know I could not have done it on my own strength. Being grounded spiritually played a major role for me. I prayed and I trusted God’s guidance. He was truly my friend in time of trouble. He was the extra footprints in the sand. Praying and praising kept my mind until it was the time was right. I never prayed for him to change, a mistake made by most. I just wanted to be safe. Like God kept Daniel in the Lion’s den, He kept me. I truly believe that. In the mist of my storm I got peace. My friends were also very supportive.

    Even though my partner was really sweet in the beginning, there was something that didn’t sit well, I was sensing something that was off but I could not put my finger on what it was at the time; one of the previous contributors mentioned that. It is something that should never be ignored, it may play an important part in saving your life and or your sanity.

    We as women have an embedded inner guidance in us that if we tune in and listen more attentively it can save us from so much you cannot fathom. Remember while advise from family and friends may be okay, they don’t live with you or in you, so it is important to trust what you feel and sense.

    I believe it is also important to set boundaries from very early in your relationships. If there is a characteristic that makes you uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to bring it out in the open, don’t ignore it. Don’t let your fear of offending the other person keep you bound. Be conscious that it is not what you are saying that is important, it is also the way you are saying it that is also important. I think if you verbally note a behaviour trait out aloud, it can also save you from getting into and unwanted situation. Remember abusive men are cowards, they strive best when they have the upper hand. Chances are if they are aware that you are on to them very early they may flee.

    Sometimes it is not easy to spot a man who is abusive especially when you are not looking. When you are with someone who dictates down to what you should and should not wear, it is not really cute, it’s the beginning of control. If he throws a fit because you talk to someone, it is not just him being jealous, its a reflection of his possessiveness and insecurity issues. If he tracts you down like a dog, and you constantly have to give account of your time and recall every detail of your day, don’t feel it is because he cares, it’s his trust issues that is raising its ugly head. I need to be clear that there is nothing wrong with any of the aforementioned, I am sure you will become sensitive and aware of when it becomes too much and over the top.

    Don’t allow superficiality to cloud your judgment a lot of times the signs are in your face, but you brush it off and ignore it. Be wise, be smart, pray, ask for guidance, open your eyes so you can see the person that is really before. Honour what your feel at all times and above all respect and be true to yourself.

  5. I am so glad I found this site. 17 years ago I left an emotionally and sexually abusive relationship and vowed I would never let myself think about it again. In the past few weeks I find it rearing it’s ugly little head and feel I really need to deal with it or I will never be happy again. All of the things that I’ve read in this blog are so true. The men isolate you from all your friends so you are alone, and belong only to them (in their mind). Zoe hit all points right on the head for me.

    I had no idea that anyone else felt like this. Really no idea. Or maybe I just didn’t let myself think about it. I locked it in an emotional safe and forgot the combination.

    The man I was with started out as romantic, passionate, caring, demonstrative, and we had the best sexual relationship ever. I had no idea it could be that good. But that good became bad after about 10 months or so as he would pick fights with me because he loved make-up sex. It was like being raped after awhile but no slapping or hitting… just wearing me down until I submitted. How could I do that? I have always been a strong woman who never let any man boss her around. I couldn’t believe I was so stupid. And the funny thing is, I don’t like using the word ‘stupid’, but after that relationship I have been using it a lot. I think that’s the first thing I’ll change as of right this minute.

    I was blinded by his words, always telling me he loved me and saying how beautiful I was. I was a good looking woman, so I didn’t really need him to tell me I was, but he did it so often that I guess I grew to like it. Also, the ‘I love you” all the time. That blinded me.

    And here is something interesting. He was trying to make me think I was crazy. He would mention a movie and say ‘remember how we laughed at it’ or something like that. The first time or so I really wondered if I had forgotten it. But as time went on I made sure I remembered everything so I wouldn’t have to wonder, and he did it to me again and again. Telling me I had said things a couple of hours before, and I knew I didn’t, because that would not have been something I wanted to do or say. He was evil. And he did it all in the pretense of being super religious. Wow.

    So, I’m coming back to this site and I hope other women find it. I have a lot of healing to do and forgiving of myself, because some day I would really like to have a nice healthy, happy, non-abusive relationship with a man. That would be nice. But I’m not settling ever again. And I am so critical of men who are nice to me now.

    Women need to band together. We are strong and we deserve to be treated right. That’s the truth.

    I love you all, my sisters. We can all get through this together.

    1. We are glad you found this site ma’am. However, we are saddened to know that even after so many years you still feel the way you do. Psychologists find than some women take longer than others to heal from abuse. Each person has his or her own tolerance for abuse and ability to move on. We wish you well in your future relationships. Counselling might help. I know not all women feel helped after therapy, but it’s a good start. Love yourself. Forgive yourself. Choose to find happiness and try as much as possible not to let your past experiences dictate your future. You deserve every bit of happiness so go on and find it. We love you too. Stay in touch!


      Woman to Woman Blog Talk.

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