Why Good Women Stay In Bad Relationships

Love & Learn 98

When people think about an "abused woman," they probably don't picture a strong, smart, intelligent, and sassy kind of person. I'd guess they'd picture a housewife wearing Mom jeans crying into her apron over her latest black eye.

Couldn't be farther from the truth. ANY woman can get caught up in a bad relationship - be it the executive down the hall or the janitor who sweeps up after you in the ladies room.

So let's break down those stereotypes and figure out why women - all KINDS of women - stay in bad relationships.

1) Fear of being alone. I know in this day and age, we women are supposed to be tough and fearless, but it's not always the case. We can behave as though we're tough and fearless, while inside, we long to be wanted by our partner.

2) The devil you know versus the devil you don't. There's something comforting in staying with your partner - bad relationship and all - because at least you know what's next.

3) Fear that this is the best there is out there. A lot of people - women who have been in bad relationships, especially - have their self-esteem eroded slowly by their partner (and life) so much that they honestly believe their current partner IS the best they'll ever get.

4) "It's not that bad." I don't know how many times I've run across those words on my non-profit site, where we get a great number of domestic abuse stories sent in to us. Women believe erroneously that because their story isn't as graphic or as horrible as someone else's, it's not really worth it to talk about their partners who really only get upset when they "do something wrong."

5) You're a perfectionist. Everything you do is the BEST out there. Therefore, your relationship must not be broken, it's just facing "challenges." The idea of failure is so tremendous that leaving never even crosses your mind.

6) He has some sort of leverage. Often men who are truly abusive threaten a woman, saying he will hurt her children, her pets, or her family if she leaves him.

7) You love him - plain and simple.

8) You believe he will change. He says he will. He's TRYING to change. You just make him SO MAD. If only you STOPPED making him SO MAD!

9) He makes you feel special beyond compare. Even if you're not quite good enough (his words), he'll manipulate you into feeling grateful that someone like him could be with someone like YOU.

10) You can't see how truly bad it is. Whether it's because you've been isolated from friends or family or you don't want to see how bad things are, you don't have any idea things have gotten this dire.

How do I know all this? I've been there, too.

What are some other reasons women stay in bad relationships?


Image via anathea/Flickr


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nonmember avatar Shelly

There are no reasons women stay in bad relationships, only EXCUSES. Anyone I've ever known in an abusive relationship said the same thing once they left. I DO think there are some very deep issues with any women who allows herself to stay in an abusive relationship.

Sirena Robinson

I know the feeling. I was in a very abusive relationship, and had a lot of these things. Mostly that I couldn't accept failure. I was young, only 18 when we met, and he manipulated me into moving in together eight months later. I was twenty two when I finally wised up and kicked him out, though I had to move in with my parents to feel safe enough to do it. It was him threatening to kill my baby sister that woke me up. Nothing else, not the bloody nose, the other women, the yelling, him slamming a door on my head, nothing other than realizing that he could hurt someone other than me knocked me out of the cycle of abuse.

Flori... Floridamom96

I don't understand this. My very young 18 year old sister got out of an abusive relationship rather quickly (weeks) after the physical abuse began. I don't understand why other women don't do the same.

Al Collingwood

There is no excuse for an abusive relationship and to hear about them makes me sick, I lost a friend that I felt was like a brother until one day I had to step in between him and his wife. I not only lost one friend but the whole family it seems. After a month she went back to him and they moved accros the country.

the4m... the4mutts

There comes a point when you are no longer a victim, but become a volunteer.

Plain and simple.

Todd Vrancic

I have been told that sometimes a woman will stay because she knows how to trigger what they call an incident, and afterward he is very sweet and loving.  The times when he is sweet and loving, in their mind, make up for all the abuse.  I have heard a woman say, "You just see the bad side.  He is really sweet to me.  Just the other day, he brought flowers home for no reason."

NewMo... NewMomma.S

Yup, great points here. Looking at me and knowing me now you'd never guess I was one of those women. Mine eroded my self esteem and had me convinced I was a bipolar alcoholic. I was on meds, bruises, broken ribs and he had me financially stuck with him but then I finally just got sick of it. I had committed through sickness and health but his mental sickness was just to much. After years of me changing and growing with no change in our relationship I realized he was really the problem. Now he's with another woman he's doing the same thing to. I hope she wakes up before the broken bones part of her journey with him.

nonmember avatar Elizabeth

I don't think anyone can truly understand unless they have been through it themselves.

the4mutts, your comment is harsh and I can tell that you have been fortunate enough not be in a situation like that yourself.

I am not a volunteer in my situation. I was moved 2000 miles away from anyone I know by my child's father. I want to leave, but I would die if I lost my little girl. Going through court systems, it would be a possibility to lose custody. It happens to abused women all the time. The courts need physical evidence of abuse. Something which is not always visible. For me, there is no way out. I cannot leave the state I am in with my child because that would be considered "parental kidnapping". I cannot stay where I am without his support because I would have no other way to provide for my child. Abusers often find a way to isolate their victim in order to be able to continue the abuse for as long as they can. I have not seen anyone in my family for 5 years. Financially I cannot just get in the car and drive to them. Lawfully, I cannot either. I am not a willing participate in this.

"the4mutts" your comment shows ignorance to the reality of abuse.

Berry Channin

Not all abusive relationships are physical abuse there is emotional abuse that can usually be just as bad or worse! I got ran down, blamed for anything that went wrong, started thinking I was crazy, and believed everything was my fault! Once I went to a therapist and realized it was him I started getting stronger, realized I didn't need him or his abuse and filed divorce. He took our children just like he threatened to do, but I got them back home! It's a hard long fight, but I finally have peace ;)

Taisie Taisie

the4mutts - there is nothing "plain and simple" about an abusive relationship, unless you have been there and done that, please don't claim to understand the workings of one, and even then, understand that every relationship, and every person in one, is different, and the dynamics of the relationship are different for the people involved.

Why people do, or do not leave are very complicated, and sitting in your chair in front of your computer, the choices may look very easy, but trust me, they are not, and why so many people, women especially, seem to be so unsupportive of women in these types of situations is beyond me.

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