One of my clients stays with her abuser because he has told her he will kill her parents if she leaves. She doesn’t want to find out if he really means it.
Another woman stays because after 20 years of marriage he has isolated her from all of her family and friends. She’s not been “allowed” to work and cannot support herself. She doesn’t want to take her kids away from their home, school, and friends.
Another woman stays because he threatens to take the kids full-time so that she won’t get any child support. He controls all their money and says he will get the best lawyer he can. She has no money of her own. The thought of not seeing her kids everyday is unbearable.
Another woman stays because she gave up everything to be with this super handsome, charming, romantic, successful man. No one would believe her and he’s convinced her he acts the way he does because of her. He’s so good at the emotional abuse that she doesn’t know what’s true and what’s not.
Another woman stays because she understands what a tough life he has had and she believes if she loves him and doesn’t give up on him, he will change. She doesn’t want to be another person in his life who hurts him.
Here are some actual quotes from women who have not left their abuser:
“I still love him. I’m in love with the man I married, not who he is when he’s mean.”
“I know if I keep showing my love and commitment, he will change.”
“I want to prove to him I’m none of those awful things he says I am.”
“I’m afraid of what will happen to him if I leave. I couldn’t live with that guilt.”
“I don’t deserve better.”
“It’s better than being all alone.”
“He cried and said he was sorry. I know he wants to change and he needs my help.”
If we remember that abuse doesn’t happen right away it will be easier to understand. It takes years of manipulation and beating the women down until she longer recognizes herself and has no one in her life to remind her of who she used to be. We invest a lot of ourselves into a relationship and it’s not so easy to give up on it, especially if she has come to believe that she is the problem.