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Victimology: Why Do Victims Stay?

Updated on August 10, 2013

The Question

This question was asked by windygreen. I started to answer and discovered I needed more room to give it proper attention. Here is my attempt to be as clear and concise as possible.


There are many surface reasons. No two situations are exactly the same.

"Maybe he'll/she'll change."

"He/she needs me."

"I need him/her."

"It's not that bad."

"I can't make it on my own."

"He/she can't make it on his/her own."

"The kids need a father/mother."

"I deserve the abuse."

These are just a few of the reasons we tell ourselves, but they are not root causes. If you keep asking why, you may find new answers.

The primary factor for all of our poor decisions is fear. It doesn't always feel that way, but if we break down the basic reasons and keep asking why, it comes down to fear. Fear of not being good enough is almost always the reason I have seen for staying in a poor relationship. The strongest voice is usually saying; "what if this is the best I can do?" or "no one else is going to love me."

Fear that we are not good enough invades many of us in one form or another.

Do you know anyone in an abusive relationship?

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Why Would Someone Allow Themselves to be Abused?

Sometimes, the abused are so used to being abused, we don't know how to feel love. There have been case studies, and I have witnessed this first hand; where children grew up being beaten, or verbally assaulted. When treated with love and respect, these people start to fear there is a problem. They aren't getting the "love" they are used to, and they start to act out to find ways to get that familiar experience. This can be the reason for people who are into BDSM experiences. (No, I am not saying this is always the reason.) It is possible to change such behaviours with patience, understanding, and some knowledge.

Have you ever made a major life change intentionally?

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Fear of Change

We often avoid change out of fear. Not because we are afraid something will be worse, but because it's familiar. Even though where we are is bad, we are comfortable here. To invite change brings in the unknown. What if...

"What if I don't like it?"

"What if no one else will love me?"

What happens if we ask the opposite questions?

"What if I like it?"

"What if I find someone who will love me and treat me with respect?"

Asking the right questions can help when facing the unknown. It's not about the scary things that could happen if we make a change. It's about the good things that won't happen if we don't.

Stop running from fear and follow your bliss.

Changing Our Internal Dialogue

I've had plenty of experience with poor internal dialogue. If you've paid attention to trends in self help at all, there is a lot of talk about positive thinking. Positive thinking is great. Reminding ourselves of our good qualities can help lift us up and motivate our actions.

I have one problem with positive thinking. Some of us, feel like it's a lie. We try affirmations. We try interrupting our negative thoughts with positive ones. When we use positive affirmations, sometimes it reinforces the wrong feeling. That can be just as bad as the negative self talk.

If we look in the mirror every morning and say "I'm beautiful," and it builds a negative emotion, we are making the issue worse. We need to find something that doesn't reinforce the negative. Sometimes that means being very creative.

When we are ready for a change, we must keep trying. Often that means eliminating the word "try". Because when we try, we leave room for giving up. Instead, we can choose to "do". When we do If we fall down, we get back up. If we make a mistake, we keep going. Persistence is the key. Learn from mistakes. Don't let the mistakes hold us back.

It sometimes feels like a long, hard road, but change often does.

Have you left an abusive relationship?

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Self Love

If we want out of a bad relationship, the first thing we need to do is love ourselves enough to see the relationship is bad. Then love ourselves enough know we must leave. Last but not least, love ourselves enough to decide now is the time to be free. Once we truly make that decision, nothing will stop us from reaching for a better life. Changing the way we talk to ourselves can help build that self love.

There are many resources available to help people get out of abusive situations. Chances are, in your area, there are organizations that can help. The majority of public resources are discreet and understanding. If we feel we're in danger, it's important to be cautious, but love ourselves enough to reach out. Even if that means anonymously asking someone online for help finding assistance. You may be surprised how many people care enough to give you some of their time.

Do you love yourself?

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As always, I would love to hear your thoughts and feedback.

All information/media included in this article copyright Cole Ikerd except where otherwise noted.


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    • Cantuhearmescream profile image

      Cat 4 years ago from New York


      Gosh, I don't know what has taken me so long to get over here, but this is one of the most insightful hubs I have read. We don't usually run around airing our abusive relationships and I'm not particularly comfortable talking about it. But, I have been in a physically abusive relationship that I left for an emotionally abusive relationship. To be honest, the emotional abuse is worse, physical bruises heal but words scar forever. Yes, it comes down to our own self-perceptions and I have struggled with seriously low self-esteem and insecurities my whole life. I don't know where you get your information but it is so spot on. I can relate to the entire article, in fact, I am blown away, it is as if you took the words from my head and put them on paper. Loved it!

      Voted up and awesome!


    • janshares profile image

      Janis Leslie Evans 5 years ago from Washington, DC

      Hi coleikerd. Very interesting approach you've taken on getting out of abusive relationships. It is indeed rooted in fear, some internal, some external. You expressed the internal world of the victim very well. The crucial step is reaching out for help as you stated in the end. Voted up and interesting.