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Why A Woman Stays In An Abusive Relationship

Updated on December 22, 2015
Why women stay in abusive relationships.
Why women stay in abusive relationships.

What is an abusive relationship?

Have you ever wondered why some women stay in abusive relationships even though they are getting hurt both physically and emotionally? In this article we shall take a look at what an abusive relationship is and why some women stay in such relationships.

What is an abusive relationship?

An abusive relationship is simply an unhealthy relationship. As the name implies, this type of relationship is characterized by abuse which can be physical, emotional, or even sexual. People in abusive relationships unfortunately don’t get treated with respect by their partners. They end up being emotionally or physically harmed by their partners almost on a daily basis.

Signs of an abusive relationship

Here are some of the most common signs that show that you are in an abusive relationship. You are in an abusive relationship if:

  • You tend to be physically harmed by your partner (a good example of being physically abused by your partner is when your partner slaps, smacks, punches, or kicks you)
  • You are frequently humiliated by your partner
  • Your partner frequently threatens you (sometimes your partner might threaten to cause you physical harm if you leave him or her)
  • Your partner often makes you feel unworthy
  • Your partner is jealous all the time and demands to know where you were whenever you leave his or her presence
  • Your partner doesn’t allow you to spend time with your friends or he or she becomes jealous whenever you spend some time with your friends
  • Your partner often forces you to engage in things that you are not comfortable with or which you don’t like
  • You are frequently emotionally blackmailed (one of the most common emotional blackmails in abusive relationships is one partner threatening the other that they would harm or kill themselves if the other partner left the relationship)

All the things mentioned above are signs that you are in an abusive relationship.

So what would make a woman want to stay in an abusive relationship even though she knows very well that the relationship isn’t healthy for her and that staying in it is harming her and can even eventually cost her her life? Why do some women stay in abusive relationships?

NOTE: Men can also find themselves in abusive relationships. While it is true that males also find themselves being abused in relationships, it is females that suffer more from abuse in relationships.

Reasons why some women stay in abusive relationships?

According to experts, these are the most common reasons why some women stay in abusive relationships:

  • Overdependence on the abusive partner: One of the biggest reasons why many women stay in abusive and painful relationships is because they have come to a point where they cannot imagine surviving on their own without the help of their various abusive partners. There are a number of reasons why a woman gets to that point where she feels that she cannot make it on her own without her abusive partner. One of the most common reasons why this happens is because the woman might feel that she isn’t financially independent to take that bold step of leaving the man. In this case, the woman is so afraid that without the money she is getting from her abusive partner, she wouldn’t be able to take care of herself. Over the years, I have personally seen so many cases where women stay in very abusive relationships only because they are financially dependent on their abusive partners. They hope for the day when they can become financially independent so that they can leave the relationship. As a result of this, these women unfortunately become trapped for a very long time in the abusive relationship – some even end up losing their lives as a result of that.
  • Fear of the action the abusive partner would take if she leaves: Another major reason why a woman would remain in a relationship despite the fact that she is being abused by her partner is because she is afraid of the action that her abusive partner would take after she has left him. For example, the abusive partner might have threatened to harm her or cause her problems if she leaves the relationship. Sometimes the abusive partner can even threaten to harm himself if the woman leaves him. There was this case of a woman who spent over 10 years living in a very violent relationship because her abusive boyfriend threatened he would kill himself if she left him. As a result of this, the woman stayed in the painful relationship for 10 painful years. Eventually her abusive boyfriend had enough of her and abandoned her – this was after having physically and emotionally abused her for about a decade. Isn’t this extremely sad? There are several cases like this all over the world. There are also cases where the abusive boyfriend or husband threatens to take away the children away from the woman forever. Some young women who find themselves in foreign countries can sometimes find themselves having no other option than to remain in toxic relationships because their abusive partners may threaten to have them deported. For example, in the United States you frequently hear stories of immigrant women remaining in relationships with abusive men only because the men have threatened to stop working on their Green Cards or have them deported back to their home countries if they get out of the relationship. So the bottom line is that some women are so afraid of what their abusive partners might do to them or their loved ones if they leave them that they end up staying in the abusive relationship and suffering.
  • For the sake of the children: Many women who have children with their abusive partners tend to stay in the relationship mainly because of the sake of their children. In this case, the woman puts the interest of her child or children before hers. She is more concerned about the negative impact her leaving the man would have on her child or children. For example, she might be thinking that if she leaves her partner, her children might end up blaming her for leaving their father. She might feel that the children need their father and a family and therefore she cannot be selfish enough to deny her children the opportunity to be in a family and have a father. She therefore stays in the relationship no matter how toxic it is for her. There are even cases where the woman might fear that the children’s father might kidnap the children or even harm them if she leaves him.
  • Some women feel they are responsible for the ill treatment they receive: One of the saddest reasons why some women still stay in abusive relationships is because they are somehow able to convince themselves that the reason why they are being abused is because of something they have done. An abused woman might convince herself that her behavior is the reason why she was abused by thinking like this: “It’s my fault that he hit me that way. I was being stubborn. Had I not been stubborn, he wouldn’t have hit me like that. I deserve to be treated that way.” But we all know that it wasn’t her fault and she doesn’t deserve to be treated like that. Sadly, some women feel the fault is always theirs and therefore continue staying in the abusive relationship. But the truth of the matter is that no one deserves to be abused! The fault is always the abuser's and not the one being abused.
  • Some women stay for religious and cultural reasons: This is very common when the woman is married to the man. Certain religious beliefs frown upon divorce. As a result of this, some married women find it very difficult leaving their abusive husbands. Other times, the woman might continue to stay in the abusive relationships because her culture frowns upon moving from one man to another. This therefore makes her to stay in the abusive relationship because she doesn’t want to bring shame upon herself and family.
  • Some women feel abuse is normal: Unfortunately for some women, they have been exposed to abuse all their lives. Maybe when they were young, abuse was a very common thing in their homes. An example is a case of young girl whose father constantly beat her up her mother and abused her in all ways. Such a child might end up growing up believing that being abused is a normal thing. Some women unfortunately find themselves constantly seeing violence and domestic abuse in relationships that these women end up not knowing what a healthy relationship is. They might feel that violence in a relationship is a normal thing. And as a result of this, when they find themselves in a relationship with an abusive partner, they see it as normal and continue living with the abuse. But we all know that violence is never part of a healthy relationship!
  • Some stay because of love: Some women are so blinded by the love that they have for their partners that they would rather stay in the abusive relationship than leave it. This is another very common reason why the average woman stays in an abusive relationship. When you ask many of these women why they haven’t left the relationship, they normally reply by saying they stay in the relationship because they are in love. You therefore see cases of a boyfriend severely beating up his girlfriend and the girlfriend refusing to report the abuse because she loves him too much to do that. Unfortunately for these women, love blinds them so much that they behave irrationally and end up staying in the abusive relationship hoping that one day their abusive partners would change their negative behaviors towards them. Unfortunately for some women that day never comes, and the abuse continues until one day they are harmed seriously or are killed.
  • Some are afraid of never finding another relationship: Another common reason that keeps some women in abusive relationships is because they fear that if they end the relationship, they might never find anyone else to be with them. This mainly comes about as a result of the women having very low self-esteem. The woman might feel that she is not beautiful or good enough to attract another man. The mere thought of ending up alone and lonely makes the woman stay in the relationship even though it is literally killing her.

Advise to women in abusive relationships

If you find yourself in an abusive relationship, the best thing you can do for yourself is to get out of the relationship before you are seriously harmed or even worse killed by your abusive partner. If you can’t get out of the relationship all by yourself, seek help from trusted friends and family members. Speak to someone who can help you such as a counselor. You can also get help from crisis centers and abuse hotlines. Don’t believe your abuser when he beats you up or abuses you and promises you he loves you and that it won’t happen again. This isn’t a healthy relationship. Get out of such a relationship before it kills you.

This advice goes to all people (whether males or females) that find themselves in abusive relationships. Remember that you deserve to be treated with love and respect.

Have you ever found yourself in an abusive relationship?

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    • Jade89 profile image

      Jade Monique Taylor Hiralal 

      2 years ago from Johannesburg - South Africa

      Very Informative and true.

      I was in an abusive relationship for almost 2 years before I gained the courage to leave.

      I stayed with the hope that things would get better even though sub-consciously I knew that they wouldn't. The biggest part of me stayed because I wanted "the ideal" family for my son.

      I've since learnt that "the ideal" family is what you make of it. Blended families exist and there is someone out there who will be more of a father to your child then their biological father could possibly ever be if they are not willing to parent.

      I've learnt that families come in all shapes and forms and that a blended family or even single parenting is definitely healthier and better for a child then growing up in an abusive household or watching one parent be abusive to the other.

      It is never too late or too soon to leave.

    • myvenn profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Ghana

      Happy to hear that you are finally free and happy.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 

      2 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      I stayed in an abusive marriage for nearly 20 years. Not only was I afraid of what he would do if I left, but there were also religious reasons.

      I am finally free, happy and in love.

      Thanks for writing this important article.


    • myvenn profile imageAUTHOR


      2 years ago from Ghana

      An abusive relationship is one that is simply not healthy. Thanks for the insight. Your comment is highly informative. Thanks for adding more flesh to this article.

    • dashingscorpio profile image


      2 years ago

      "An abusive relationship is a relationship that is simply not unhealthy."

      - That's a great definition.

      Some women also stay because they're embarrassed or hate failure.

      For example maybe their parents warned them but they chose to marry the person anyway. Once the abuse started they didn't want to hear their parents say: "We told you so!" So they decide to (hide) the abuse.

      Another group is so mortified with becoming another "divorce statistic" they say: "When I said I do I meant it!"

      Another group of people really believe that one day their abuser will realize how lucky they are to have them and will start treating them better.

      Another group believes all marriages require "work" and in their mind abuse falls under the category of learning to get along better via trial and error. Jealousy and possessiveness are "signs of love" to some people.

      However I believe the number one reason why women stay in toxic relationships is because they don't love themselves as much as they love being in a relationship even if it's an abusive one!

      Each of us gets to (choose) our own friends, lovers, and spouse.

      No one is "stuck" with anyone!

      There are over 7 Billion people on this planet!

      Odds are in everyone's favor there are more than a few people who would make ideal mates for each of us!

      The guy or girl you think you can't live without just know this there are Billions of us who are doing it everyday! You use to be one of us!

      If someone is unhappy in a relationship and (chooses) to stay then they are choosing to be unhappy!

      A healthy person who loves them self has "boundaries" and "deal breakers". Some people say women should leave after the first slap or push. I think they should leave if they witness their mate's violent ager towards anyone or anything. After all it will only be a matter of time before she is {the one} who pissed him off.

      If you've seen him punch holes in the wall, throw things across the room, or curse other drivers on the road while driving like a madman it's a clue of what you can expect down the road.

      When we change our circumstances change.

      "Never love anyone who treats you like you're ordinary."

      - Oscar Wilde

      If your mate is verbally or physically abusive they don't think you're "special".


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