Why Do Women Stay Abusive Relationships

Women's Dating

Why Do Women Stay in Abusive Relationships?

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Written by: Dr. Wendy Walsh

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Known as America's Relationship Expert, Dr. Wendy Walsh is an award-winning television journalist, radio host & podcaster, and the author of three books on relationships and thousands of print and digital articles. More than 1.5 million people follow her sage advice on social media. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and teaches in the Psychology Department at California State University Channel Islands and has been the host of "The Dr. Wendy Walsh Show" on iHeart Radio's KFI AM 640 since 2015. Walsh is also a former Emmy-nominated co-host of "The Doctors," as well as former host of the nationally syndicated show "EXTRA." She was named a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2017 after speaking out about harassment at a major news network.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

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We’ve all known them. Women who put up with verbal abuse and sometimes even physical abuse. We wonder why they don’t respect themselves more. And with every new barb that we witness, we wonder why they don’t leave.

Abusive relationships are very complicated, to say the least. Women often enter them because in some crazy way, they feel comfortable.

For instance, some women interpret jealousy as “caring.” If he is vigilant about where she is and who she’s talking to, some women think he must really love her.

Here’s the bad news:

About one-third of American women have suffered some sort of childhood abuse — either physical, sexual or emotional. And that abuse likely came at the hand of someone they loved.

So as adult women, they grow up to know this familiar world of warm fuzzies and cold prickles. This feels normal to them, and indeed, these are often the kind of relationships they seek out.

But what about relationships that get increasingly worse?

Why do women still stay, even when their life might be in danger? The answer is that the longer they stay, the longer they are likely to stay.

The relationship becomes the thing they know they can survive. Being single and on-her-own can feel like a terrifying, unknown place. There may be children involved, extended families that will suffer from a breakup, and fond memories of good times.

So with each instance of abuse, the victim focuses on the good times she knows will come back. And the good times often come right away.

For example, with physical violence, many offenders follow up their bad behavior with a honeymoon phase fueled by their guilt. They wine, dine, shop for and express their love for their victim. And that reseals the relationship.

The key to help exit an abusive relationship is self-esteem.

Getting an education, a new job, or even a weight loss can be a great catalyst to help a woman become strong enough to leave the relationship and create a better life on her own.

Interventions from friends that offer support rather than abandonment can be helpful, too. My best advice: Don’t tell her she’s bad for staying. Tell her what a great partner she is and that she deserves much better love.

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