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Why did you stay??????

I do hear this question a lot.  It breaks my heart because the person asking doesn't understand but then I realize it is my job to help them to understand. 



Why do women or men stay in an abusive relationship.  There are so many reasons, all of which seem logical at the time. 



There is the low self esteem factor.  The survivor may actually believe what the abuser is saying to them and about them.  They accept as fact that they are not worthy of a better life, they are too fat, too skinny, to much of a bitch, to quiet, too loud to have a better relationship.  The victim is "lucky" the abuser keeps them around.  Low self esteem also leads to the victim feeling like the abuse if their fault.  Somehow, they did something to cause the attack.  Somehow they provoked it or they are misinterpreting the comments made by the abuser.  Somehow they are to blame and they have to "fix" themselves to make it better.



There is the monetary factor. Many abusers create a life with the victim where they are totally dependent on the abuser.  A stay at home mom, who has spent all her time raising the kids, does not have the financial means to just walk away from abuse.  Abusers, many times, will have a certain lifestyle they enjoy and will use credit cards to supplement that lifestyle, thus creating a debt burden that is overwhelming to the victim if they attempt to leave...especially in California and other states where half of the debt would have to be taken on by the victim.



Kids are also involved.  The victim will be threatened.  The abuser may threaten to take the kids so the victim will never see them again (this threat was made to me several times).  The victim may feel they can keep the kids safe by staying and sheltering them.  This works some of the time...but not always.  Most of the time, though, the kids see and hear more than the victim thinks and this has long term effects on the children. 



Sometimes the victim thinks they can save the abuser.  They feel like if they just change "enough" or try to talk to the abuser they can make it all better.  Victims can have "savior complexes" to where they try everything and anything to smooth over whatever they see as wrong with the abuser.  They try to save them from their dark side.  They don't realize that the abuser is using that to control the victim and doesn't want to be "saved". 



There are so many more reasons, each individual survivor can tell you their own story on why.  The question shouldn't be "Why did you stay so long"...it should be, what can we do to help you move on and love life again?  The survivors don't want to relive all that happened.  They want to move forward and be happy again. 

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I am striving to be the excellent person that I am and if I can help anyone out there be happier then I have accomplished my goal for the day.

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