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Why Do People Stay In Abusive Relationships?

Why People Stay In Abusive Relationships

What is abuse? Webster defines it as to use wrongly or improperly; to hurt; to treat in a harmful or injurious manner. So why do people stay in abusive relationships? The reasons may not be acceptable to everyone but according to mental health experts, there are specific reasons why people (not just women) stay in abusive relationships.

Surviving in an abusive relationship of ANY kind is a puzzlement to people on the outside, but there are specific reasons why someone 'allows' this or cannot find a way out. It is also about the patterns that people do not see sometimes and fall unknowingly into. The first step is for the person involved in an abusive relationship on any level to see the pattern and want to change it. The person who needs to change is the abused in order to finally and completely heal as the pattern will inevitably repeat itself down the road.


Photo Credit: Flickr Samat Jain

Reasons For Continuing In The Abusive Relationship


This in my humble opinion is the number 1 cause of people in failed or abusive relationships - on ANY level, not just partnered relationships but with friends or coworkers, family members or mere acquaintances. The only reason a person 'takes' abuse is because they are most familiar with it. They believe they DESERVE it. Nothing could be further from the truth but in this case, breaking the cycle of low self-esteem and believing that each and every one of us on this earth deserves happiness and deserves 'better' (whatever that better may be) is the key. Until a person can decide that he or she deserves love, deserves happiness, and deserves to be free to make their own decisions (good or bad) and act on them, the pattern of self-esteem vulnerability continues.

Low self-esteem is also tied to where we come from. Meaning that if a person grows up with the pattern of being emotionally abused, physically abused, sexually abused, verbally scathed for doing anything other than what the perpetrator decrees, the mechanism is locked into place. The victim of the abuse has it firmly in his or her mind now that she DESERVES this treatment and to think of anything outside that box is futile. The pattern of abuse will be perpetuated because the victim has signed up for the program.

Only by looking into the mirror and deciding to be different can one break out of this pattern. Deciding that one wants happiness, wants fulfillment, wants a 'better' life - these are the turning points of change and only by getting that mindset and focusing on that set of goals can the pattern be broken. I want happiness, therefore I will go out and get it. I deserve peace in my life and joy - I will go out and get it.


Over the course of my 56 years on the planet, I have seen this reason far more times than I'd like to admit. 'If I do not admit that it is there, I do not have a problem.' Seemingly very successful people - family members, friends I have had over the years - they LOVE the person that they are with and that seems to wash away everything. If they love them, there cannot possibly be anything wrong with them - or the relationship. Of course to most people on the outside, everyone can see the problem staring them in the face and it is all TOO obvious who is controlling whom. The shattered dreams are evident, the penalties for daring to speak out against the 'controller' in the relationship. But still there is not a problem.

Denial is the hardest of any excuse to fight because the person who is firmly entrenched in denial is unreachable. Until they hit rock bottom and decide that they can no longer go on living a lie, there is truly nothing that can be done. Interventions are helpful but only to a point as in the case of someone very close to me, after finally taking the step to free herself from an abusive relationship, she immediately was overwhelmed with guilt about what she had done and went back anyway.

The most common phrases I have heard spoken about people who I feel were controlling or abusive to my friends or family on some level - 'he's really a nice guy; he just gets a little out of control sometimes'. 'He was tired - he didn't really mean it.' 'He made up with me afterwards and said it will never happen again.' 'He just wants what is best for me and why shouldn't I do what he wants? I should not make life harder for him because he works SO hard.' Or as a child when I was physically abused - 'If only you would have been better; why can't you be good like your sister? Then this would never happen'.


Most people who are in an abusive relationship do not believe that they can survive on their own. They usually also have their entire financial life tied up with the abuser. That is part of the control. That is part of the lack of self-esteem. The abused person is 'too stupid' to handle finances, 'too flighty' to have spending money, 'too incapable' of making solid decisions, monetary or otherwise, so the abuser or controller usually ends up handling the pursestrings. That is all part of the pattern. If they control the situation, the victim stays.

If a person looks at their life on every level across the board and can point to financial dependency on someone else where they take no part whatsoever in decision making or have any freedom to participate and/or spend money that is made, there is probably a serious problem there. Most partnerships are just that - partnerships. Both partners equally decide how and when to spend the money. Both partners in a relationship should have areas where they can express themselves and within reason, indulge themselves. If one person in a relationship is controlling ALL the money that is spent, how it is spent, or determining when it is NOT spent, that signals a pattern of domination.


Over the years, like with financial control, I have heard this statement from several people embroiled in an abusive relationship. It is fear plain and simple that keeps them rooted in their current situation. They do not feel that they can provide adequate food, shelter and clothing for themselves if they leave. They do not feel that they can have a life if they leave because they are dependent upon the other person. They do not feel that they have any options, so they give up - they stay.

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That is the saddest pattern of all to me - the hopelessness. The belief that your life is over and you are destined to live out this pattern for the rest of your days. There can only be light at the end of the tunnel if the pattern is broken! If there IS hope - if there is change. Since most abusive or controlling people do not see the need for change, the only salvation is for the person suffering the abuse to get out - break the pattern; see a brighter tomorrow and act on it. No change is ever easy but the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks of giving up and remaining in a situation that is doomed.

There are agencies today that help and there are people standing up right and left to fight abuse on all levels. There is no better time than the present to make a change for the better as years ago, it was nearly impossible for someone being abused to get help. Today, we do have choices and the patterns CAN be broken.


Unbelievably there are still some people today who will not understand but happily, not as many as years ago. It is not the stigma that it once was to leave someone, to divorce, to stand up for oneself and say 'enough - we need to be apart'. Living with the scorn or rejection of one's family, friends, culture, or church community is never easy but again, the benefits far outweigh the risks. I always believe that when people display courage and fight back for themselves, eventually people do come to realize the rightness of the act.

No one should have to live a lie and no one should have to live unhappily. There are a million ways to die and there are a million ways to live. I believe strongly in living happily until I die and if the pattern I am in currently does not bring me happiness, it is obviously the wrong pattern. Years ago when I sought to make a better life for myself, one free of abuse, I decided that I would keep searching for the happiness I deserved until I found it. I made a pact with myself that I was going to find it and that I deserved it. Fortunately for me, I was able to break the pattern but not without hard, hard work and counseling - both in office and through books, research, etc. Again, the only person I could change was myself - not the situation or the past - but I have to say - it was worth every bit of it!


This particular reason actually makes me want to cry because it is the opposite of what most people think will happen. People stay in horrible relationships because they fear what will happen to the kids or that the kids will suffer. The worst of all things happens when someone decides to stay in a failed, abusive or destructive relationship. You have just taught your child or children without saying one word how to abuse or be abused; how to have a destructive relationship, whether they grow up to be the perpetrator or the victim. Children are sponges and they watch everything we do and listen to everything we say - or do not say. Living by example is the best teaching tool but in this case, it is the wrong tool. It teaches our children to stick to the patterns and continue the cycle.

Children are very resilient creatures. They actually accept change much better than most adults. That is not to say that any failed relationship will not have detrimental effects on the children involved. There will be sadness, there will be guilt, there will be all kinds of feelings that will come up because ultimately children look to adults for stability. However, in the long run and over the longer term, children who see HEALTHY parents and see healthy parenting styles grow up to be functional and devoted parents themselves. Children that watch years of patterns of abuse and unhappiness grow up with the idea that they, too deserve abuse or unhappiness, or conversely that they must abuse someone else in order to feel 'good'.


Most people know if they are in an abusive or failed relationship. They know deep down what they need to do and perhaps they have ALL the reasons above why they do not want to do it. Perhaps they lack the necessary skills to try to make a change or the necessary support group to think of doing something to better their situation.

Again, there are numerous agencies out there and if someone you know is in an abusive situation, gently suggest that they at least seek help online. Better yet, see a counselor and discuss options. But be aware that most people when confronted with 'interventions' no matter how small or how gently put are not happy with the advice. I know several people who decided to stay with their abusive partner and are resigned to this fate for the rest of their lives. It is a sad choice, but there is nothing anyone can do if someone will not help themselves.

My crazy grandmother had a saying and I believe it to be true - 'God helps those who help themselves' and until someone can do that, there is only support that can be given but the ultimate change has to come from within the abused person. The person who suffers abuse must take charge and decide to break the pattern or the pattern will continue. However, I always feel that it is the best thing to offer someone in this situation a shoulder, a sounding board, a safe haven - and advice as far as you can provide it. I do believe there is always hope for every situation but that we are all responsible for our own happiness ultimately.

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jeevansathi from Noida on June 21, 2012:

Use of abusive language or hiting your partner is not at all the way of treating him. Marriage or any relationship is based on the bond of love, trust and care and these things should always be taken care of in a relationship.

sonjanieves from El Paso Texas on May 10, 2012:

As a woman who has survived a very violent marriage I have to say that my reasons for staying in for as long as i was were fairytale ending syndrome... Let me explain, I am woman of faith, I believed that my abuser was sick. I felt that if i loved him enough, prayed enough, and showed him i wouldn't leave him he would change. Finacially I didn't need him, we had no children together, although we had a good sex life it was nothing to keep me there.

I also felt like I had to defend him. Everyone hated him, everyone put him down, riduculed him, bashed him, sneered at him etc... I felt the need to protect him. What was i thinking??? He ended up going to prison for three years and although i divorced him I ended up being the one to pick him up when he was released and took him home. He swore he had changed, I trusted, i believed and i thought he had... well he didn't. it didn't take long before the verbal abuse kicked in, and then shortly later the blood started pouring. And as much as I defended him a light switch came on one day,,, I was done... i walked away and never looked back. he stalked me, followed me, cut my break lines, slashed my tires, harrased the new man in my life, etc. even had his new girlfriend calling me begging me to take him back,,, but when you make that decision to leave you do it. no one can truly understand why we stay unless you have worn our shoes. However I wouldn't wish that life on anyone. Now when speaking to women in abusive relationships i dont push them to leave. I ask them to think. Look at their lives from the outside. If it was their friend or daughter or sister.... what would they tell them.... i promise if you tell a woman to leave, she will stay just to protect what she feels she needs to protect.....

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on March 16, 2012:

Joseph - the only thing I can say and it is the total truth - it's her, not you...and it is TRUE. People have to have an addiction/need to be mistreated and it is not something they are usually even aware of. They think they deserve it and/or they know no other lifestyle. It totally was not you or anything you were or were not. Hopefully you'll meet the girl (not broken) of your dreams and live happily ever after. I did (the guy) just because I figured it out. People DO have to figure this stuff out though to be okay. Wishing you every happiness.

Joseph Aung-Myint on March 15, 2012:

i used to date a girl who left me for a dude in a shitty band who "looked like kurt cobain". her words not mine. he would shoot herioine and beat her. all the while i properly loved her.

anyway before breaking up with him he nearly killed her. choked her while she was driving causing her to wreck.

to this day i think to myself. if she was with me she wouldn't have those marks on her neck.

i dont look like kurt cobain but i wouldve saved her the trauma of totaling her beloved honda civic.

meh. life goes on. ill never understand women.

and im not some unconfident chump either, im a pretty boy, i sing for several bands, rap and party with the best of them.

but i will never understand why i lost to a homicidal kurt cobain lmao.

Disillusioned from Kerala, India on February 29, 2012:


Interesting analysis.

But this paragraph was eye-catching:

"The most common phrases I have heard spoken about people who I feel were controlling or abusive to my friends or family on some level - 'he's really a nice guy; he just gets a little out of control sometimes'. 'He was tired - he didn't really mean it.' 'He made up with me afterwards and said it will never happen again.' 'He just wants what is best for me and why shouldn't I do what he wants? I should not make life harder for him because he works SO hard.' Or as a child when I was physically abused - 'If only you would have been better; why can't you be good like your sister? Then this would never happen'."

I feel as long as the above statements are honest, then I feel it is totally up to the two individuals to act on what is practical and good for them. Outsiders cannot really poke their nose and incite the abused person to stand up and be counted. That won't help anybody, I suppose!


Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 27, 2012:

I do think the most pathological entity going on in this kind of relationship though is the "need" on both sides. Most often, a person who has self-esteem issues is the kind of person who ends up with an abuser. These people can often "appear" to be well adjusted but deep down, they feel that they "deserve" this kind of abuse or that it is acceptable. Healing is a hard thing but curing the underlying problems is the real challenge - for both parties.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 27, 2012:

You do bring up an interesting point which is very significant. Most abusers have been abused themselves. Without getting help though, there is rarely a "cure" for continuing the cycle of abuse, no matter what form it takes on. It's a tough cycle to break but it can be done.

Martins Fraulein on February 24, 2012:

one of my family members is engaged to a woman beater. My family tells me to say congratulations, but i honestly cant. every time i see him, i just want to punch him for all the things he's done to her. But, i guess the reason why women stay in the relationships is because at one point, they fall so in love that they believe one day they'll change. that's not the case in most relationships. In a lot of cases, things get so violent, that women can't leave, either they have a family together, or because they are terrified

Worrywort on February 22, 2012:

this may not be much, but i have to point this out. i have been abused. i have abused others. i've been in every part of the cycle, from every angle there is. and whether it's fear of being alone, fear of being a disappointment, or some other fear, there's always that primordial feeling of imminent danger and despair. i love the women i’ve been with, and know that they’ve loved me. i’ve told some to run when I believed i was getting out of control. some ran on their own. Some stayed.

but no matter what, it has to be remembered. neither side is inhuman. phobias of loneliness of meaninglessness may not be logical, but they’re very human.

i’m currently working on helping someone admit to themselves that their significant other is dangerous. she loves him so much, it’s hard to see whether she even has the capacity to realize or care about the barbed cage he has around her life. i would give anything for some quick and easy fix, but because he himself was abused, she gives him a free pass on the screaming and the threats and the isolation. It’s terrible. I hope things will work.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 01, 2011:

Thanks Bingskee for that profound analysis. I truly never thought out it in terms of other countries and that is really, really sad. Even more so because people can't get the help that they need as easily. Very sad, indeed and feeling trapped in a lifestyle like that would be devastating. I can only hope and pray there become more programs available for these people.

bingskee from Quezon City, Philippines on December 01, 2011:

in my country, the popular cause is the lack of economic power of women. this is because a large part of Filipina women lack education, belong to a poor family, or without work to support themselves and their children. each of these are interrelated. it is a sad fact that has to be dealt with and unless they seek freedom,gain self-respect, or there is a group that will help them out, they will be in those quagmire forever.

Serena Gabriel on September 13, 2011:

Very well-thought out and nicely written article.

Well, I can speak from my own experience on this subject and from the experience of friends - in fact almost every strong, independent college educated woman I know - who have been through the same kind of thing. There is a period of time between the point where you discover you are in a relationship with an abusive person and the time when you are able to safely walk out the door. That period of time in the middle is where you have to be very, very careful. Women don't stay because they want to, but you learn that if he gets the hint of an idea that you want out, hell will be unleashed on you and you will be lucky to escape with your life. This can all happen very quickly.

And, this is why you can see a couple who appear happily married and then about six weeks later find out they are divorced! They had problems, but the woman has an acting job to do if she wants to get out with her life.

And, that is why women I know "stay" - it isn't a voluntary situation.

Marc Hubs from United Kingdom on September 08, 2011:

A well written hub on a very important subject. Financial strains, children and low self-esteem are all issues that can be used to the abusers advantage.

People on the outside don't generally realize how difficult it can be to leave, especially if the victim is on welfare benefits - they may be waiting weeks before they get any money to be able to even eat anything and their own friends and family may have already been turned against them so they won't be able to get any help with the issue.

Although there is a lot of help available for victims, once they actually admit the problem it makes them feel really small and sometimes ashamed of themselves which makes that first step even more difficult to take.

Thanks for this hub.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 02, 2011:

I totally agree with you - it's such a complex thing. I've watched my mother these 57 years now deal with all the aspects of her previous abuse (and ongoing abuse). It isolates you, it tears you up and shreds your confidence. However, it is possible (I still believe) to overcome it and get out/move on. That's the hardest part though - seeing the pattern and why it's happening to you. Then doing something constructive to keep it from happening again. Thanks so much for the read, Kim~

KimEK on August 02, 2011:

Great article. You hit all the marks. I'd also like to add that some people stay because of isolation; to quote chapter 4 of Jessica Valenti's book Full Frontal Feminism, "Once (victims) have been isolated from their friends and family, they may not have any support system left."

On a side note, I hate when people say that victims in abusive relationships are stupid for staying there. For example, if I remember correctly, one time on Judge Judy she told a lady who had been hit and abused by her significant other, "You let it happen." People need to understand that victims of abuse are not stupid, and that for many, leaving is much easier said than done, for the reasons mentioned in your hub.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on July 25, 2011:

Rulalenska - I totally agree - and AMEN~! I think believing that God will change things is the same as the family looking "down" on you if you leave - it is all about choices and I believe "God" whoever he or she is would not want you to be abused - period. Run for the hills - that is the hardest part though. Thanks so much for adding such an important part of the process and problem to the hub!!!

Rula Lenski from USA on July 25, 2011:

Great hub. I wanted to add that some people stay in abusive relationships because they are religious and believe in conversion or change, or they don't believe in divorce, and that if they just hang in there and pray, God will eventually make the abuser see the light, and he or she will stop abusing. I'm here to say to anyone who believes this that it won't happen. God helps those who help themselves. God did not create anyone to be abused. Get out of the relationship.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 04, 2011:

I totally agree - thanks so much for the read HCC~

Elena@LessIsHealthy on May 04, 2011:

I believe lack of sel-esteem is the main reason. A lot of people need to learn more how to gain self-esteem.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on April 15, 2011:

Ah yes - I totally agree JamaGenee....many decades ago when I was being beaten up by my stepfather, they kept waltzing me to the therapist's office saying that if only I was better, there would be no beatings. Today, that wouldn't fly but sometimes it is absolutely the victim fighting the system. Thankfully I did have one psychologist who said that my stepfather should be locked up but there were no legal repercussions at that time. Hopefully ONE of these days, people will get a clue before there is a tragedy! Thanks so much for your insight and your contribution to the hub!

Joanna McKenna from Central Oklahoma on April 15, 2011:

Sadly, in some parts of this country the victim is the one who goes to jail and the abuser walks. Why? Because the victim has been beaten into unconsciousness and the cops buy the abuser's story that he was only defending himself. Right...that 6'2" 250-lb gorilla was "defending himself" from that 5-foot-nothin' 110-lb woman who had no weapon. She gets charged with felony battery or attempted murder - after she gets out of the hospital, of course - and he gets a pass to do it again to her or someone else.

Meaning there's still MUCH to be done as far as retraining law enforcement and the courts, which ABSOLUTELY MUST include ferreting out police officers, district attorneys, judges and legislators who themselves are abusing their spouses or partners.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on February 12, 2011:

AAZ - I hope so - it is truly hard to understand how you got into these relationships once you are in them but I'm hoping folks will think about some of these points and maybe free themselves from the pattern. That's truly all it ends up being in my humble opinion - what you think you deserve or the 'only way to fly'. Hoping it helps!

Augustine A Zavala from Texas on February 11, 2011:

Very informative and helpful. This should be of great assistance to anyone in an abusive relationship. Thank you for sharing.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 31, 2010:

Cillam - Nothing about abuse is simple and that 'just leave' thing as you say - total BS. There are so many things involved once you get trapped into a relationship like that - there is never a simply just leave or how could you get into this.

I always stand by the premise that there are reasons that abusers abuse and people that are abused get caught in these relationships. How long did it take to get to either point? It's gonna take a long time to sort it out and figure it out - on both sides.

Understanding the dynamics of abuse is twofold. Understanding why the abuser abuses and why the person they find doesn't see the abuse.

I also believe good people do bad things and in many cases, understanding that premise can fix many things.

Thanks so much for commenting and for stopping in!

cillam on December 30, 2010:

I hate it when people say JUST LEAVE it is not that simple and a women has to find her inner strength before she can even think about leaving. Like someone mentioned the man always threatens to kill the women or I'LL HUNT YOU DOWN talk and that keeps the women scared.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 29, 2010:

GammaGee - I think you solved your own problem and SO good for you and your boys!!! No one deserves that kind of treatment and I wish you every happiness!!

GammaGee from Caldwell ID on November 28, 2010:

I am a recent single parent. A woman that knew there was so much verbal and mental abuse going on over the 15 years but for some dumb reason could not figure the way out the door. My husband asked for a separation early September and now that I am out I know I will not go back. He can show off real well when we are around others but when we were not there was alot of abuse. I did not realize how much my boys were being affected. I am so thrilled to have them in a calm home. A loving church and having a single mom that loves them so much.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 23, 2010:

Thanks so much kicbknbelieve for your wonderful comments - that is all SOOO true! That is the only way that someone can heal themselves and thus break the cycle, by understanding why they keep repeating these patterns and letting someone beat up on them.

I truly believe and agree with everything that you say and thanks again for stopping in to confirm my beliefs on the matters!

kicbknbelieve from New York on November 23, 2010:

I am a believer that an abuser knows who to pick on. I have seen many women get out of an abusive situation only to find themselves in another abusive relationship. These abusers see right through someone who they can manipulate and know how to play on it. The key to getting away from it is getting the proper help. Walking away does not make it go away. One needs to get to the bottom of how and why they got into the abusive relationship, and why they put up with it. It's a process and it may bring back some childhood issues but its worth the long walk. Rebuilt what was taken from you because abuse changes who you are. Make yourself stronger and learn that its ok to love but love yourself first. People treat you how you let them.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on November 18, 2010:

PaperNotes - Thanks so much for stopping in - and no relationship is perfect. I just think that relationships should be mutually satisfying on some level. My opinions as well are based on many agonies and my own abused childhood, so only trying to help, not judge. Thanks again and wishing you well in every realm that matters!

PaperNotes on November 18, 2010:

Not all relationships are perfect and not all partners are also perfect. Abuse in a relationship is not only physical but also emotional and intellectual. Yet, it is a natural tendency for people to hope that a day will come when they will see that person to change for the better...well, I speak based on my own insights and experience.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on August 01, 2010:

Thanks FSF for commenting - I will try and remember to link to your hub later on today! Surely glad you got through it. I hope things are better today for folks in that situation as I know from personal experience growing up that law enforcement pretty much looked the other way. Wishing you much joy and happiness!

FirstStepsFitness on August 01, 2010:

Great Hub ! I have written 3 on this topic and added emergency numbers to my HubPage ! I want through it in 1970 something and absolutely nothing was available and the Police didn't have training to handle the calls .

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 15, 2010:

Thanks so much for reading this hub, Chaotic Chica. The more people that pay attention and know the whys and hows to change these things, maybe there is hope. I always believe changing patterns is the answer...again, thanks so much for reading.

Chaotic Chica on June 15, 2010:

AMEN!!!! You said it spot on and I thank you for helping get the word out! Until people start to understand what the victim is going through, nothing will change! Thank you for submitting this hub!!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 07, 2010:

Please do! Thanks so much - see you on here and will check out yours as well!

susanlang on June 07, 2010:

No..thank you akirchner for that added insight. If you wouldn't mind, I'ed like to become your fan?

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 07, 2010:

I agree - having been abused myself though not relationship wise, I totally understand what you are saying. In the 60's and 70's especially not much was done about it. I mainly was writing about folks today though - it is still a tough issue and I see all the reasons that people stay in the relationship. It is just hard if you know someone in an abusive relationship that doesn't want to get out (in my humble opinion). Thanks so much for stopping in Susan!

susanlang on June 07, 2010:

Understanding is not always present unless you have been abused back in the 1960s 1970s and first years of the 1980s. That was a time before battered womens and childrens shelters were popping up all over the usa. Laws protecting people from abuse were weak and needed changes. Today, the laws are stronger and abuse shelters are all over the usa and easy to get to!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on June 03, 2010:

Oh please do link! I always think that folks all know when they are abusing someone and why they can't get help for it - or the person being abused can't get out doesn't always make logical sense to me because I'm a concrete sorta gal. But you see it all the time - it is very sad. Send me your link too and I will link back - or will make a note of it and link it to here later today or so....

Dolores Monet from East Coast, United States on June 03, 2010:

a - the thing about domestic abuse that amazes me is why would a guy abuse the person who loves him most in the world? The behavior makes no sense at all, which makes it all even sadder. I hope you don't mind if I link this article to my hub 10 reasons to dump the guy, where I try to encourage young women to look for signs of an abuser early on, before its too late.

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on May 06, 2010:

Totally true katiem2 and I think that is part of the fear factor. My mother was actually in this situation when I was an infant and I imagine that would explain why she was so afraid to leave. Even today, with all our 'smarts' we still don't recognize the signs until someone dies which is tragic. Awareness is the name of the game and thanks so much for pointing that specific part of this out. It is a very thin line we walk between taking something far too long and getting out - but it isn't all as clear-cut as it should be and there are many, many factors involved in the cycle of abuse. I do believe the best defense against abuse is self-esteem and believing in yourself enough to try to end the cycle but again, some of it is so complicated and there are so many factors. Each situation is always different and each situation is equally devastating to those involved. I'm hoping someday for MORE awareness and more help for victims!

Katie McMurray from Ohio on May 06, 2010:

Akerchner, I found this a powerful and interesting read, there is one area of abusive relationships I've come to learn about as to why people stay and that is fear, there are some people that are violent and threaten to kill you if you leave and a lot of evidence that suggest it does in fact happen. I know of many cases where the man threatens to not only kill the women but the kids as well and she believes it will happen as the physical abuse and its scars is proof that he will do it. There are many graves filled with children that have been killed by the hands of their fathers. My daughter is 11 and in her short life she has lost a friend in the second grade who's father shot her, and more recently two sisters who's father shot them during a visitation, the courts enforced, while going through a divorce from their mother who was leaving the abuse. It breaks my heart. We live in a nice little suburban area that has some of the best schools in America, on the fact. It happens everywhere. I understand this is a area you didn't touch on in your hub and yet I wanted to mention it in case someone reading it relates to this aspect of it. It's one other side of this topic. Thank you for a very thoughtful and caring Hub as to the reasons why people stay. Thanks and Peace :)

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 22, 2009:

Thanks so much - something I feel very passionate about- thanks so much for the tag. Audrey

sunflowerbucky from Small Town, USA on December 22, 2009:

Great hub Audrey!

Audrey Kirchner (author) from Washington on December 21, 2009:

Thanks for tagging me. I totally agree. Audrey

suziecat7 from Asheville, NC on December 21, 2009:

You are right - no one can really help someone who doesn't want to help themselves. Nice Hub.

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