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When we hear talk of abuse in a relationship we often ask ourselves “why do people stay?” It’s clearly unhealthy, and yet so many tolerate it.
Some of the reasons people stay comes back to the beliefs that these individuals have. These beliefs are reasons for why they choose to stay in these relationships.
The biggest reason of them all is that society has gone so far to normalize this unhealthy behavior. It’s to the point that people expect abuse to be common in relationships. While it’s truly a disheartening thing, to those who are victims they consider abuse to be normal and therefore they don’t seek help at all.
Another big reason is that abuse, especially emotional abuse, absolutely destroys peoples’ self-esteem. In those types of relationships, the individuals are not physically beaten and so they may not understand at all that they are being abused in the first place. On top of that, emotional abuse is often dismissed or downplayed because they believe it’s not as bad as being physically hit. The reality is that no matter the abuse it can leave scars. For emotional abuse, it can scar someone’s self-esteem making them feel worthless and unable to move away and start all over again on their own.
People can also stay in abusive relationships because if they ever leave it can cause a lot of serious problems. On top of abusive relationships, in general, being emotionally difficult, some can also be life-threatening if they leave. In fact, research shows that women are 70 times more likely to be killed in the few weeks after leaving an abusive relationship than at any other time during that relationship.
Even if a person winds up getting out of the relationship, they may end up hooking back up with that person. This is known as the Cycle of Abuse. With usual relationships, we often feel compelled to get back together with our old partner and this feeling is still true for abusive relationships as well. Often times in abusive relationships, the abuser does something nice or apologizes and promises to never do it again. Whether it’s before or after a breakup this can happen.
On top of all of that, society has also instilled a “ride-or-die” mindset. This mentality enforces people to tough out a relationship or adds more fuel to the fire to get back together with an abuser. These incentives not only come from pop culture but even our own friends. The thing to keep in mind with this is while it’s great to be loyal, a good friend or a good partner will never endanger or hurt you. Again abuse – no matter the kind – is not right.
And one of the final reasons why people choose to stay is in the end, they may feel responsible for this type of behavior. Not everyone knows the others history and what’s not to say this is the first person they abused in their life? This line of thinking can lead to the victim to feel guilty, that them getting abused or hurt is all their fault in some way. As such they strive to make amends for it and feel personally involved in “fixing” the person and for their “mistake.”
No matter what, abuse is abuse and it isn’t acceptable at all. However, by understanding these particular reasons for people, we can begin to understand why people choose to stay in these relationships. If you or someone you know is in this sort of relationship, we encourage you to create a create a safety plan to protect and to help you move out of the relationship.