Why I Stayed

Our society believes that if you are being abused by your partner, you should leave – right away. But this is not women’s experience. Leaving a relationship, where there has been abuse, is practically and emotionally very complex. There is no “easy” solution when it comes to abuse. Whether you are living with your partner or not, you may still be working on your relationship, hoping your marriage or family can stay intact. Or, perhaps, you are afraid of leaving. (You likely have very good reasons for being afraid.)  Here are some reasons women give for staying in a relationship were there is abuse:

  • I still love
  • I don’t want to be alone
  • I take my marriage vows very seriously
  • I still have hopes and dreams for the future
  • I feel embarrassed about the abuse
  • I’m worried about managing as a single parent
  • It is financially impossible for me to leave
  • I don’t want to leave my home
  • He has threatened me if I leave
  • He has threatened to hurt himself if I leave
  • I want the children to have a father
  • I feel sorry for him.

If you are feeling conflicted about leaving or staying in the relationship, you are not alone. Abuse leaves women feeling overwhelmed, confused and unclear about their options. It is important to find support for yourself. Your situation is extremely difficult, you deserve all the good support you can get.

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  1. I still love
    I dont want to be alone
    I still have hopes for the future
    Im worried about managing as a single parent

  2. All of the above except for the threats. So. Now what? Everyone says I should Leave but I do love him and I see beneath his anger. Strange though that I keep believing this time it won’t happen again or it’s not really that bad. It’s mostly emotional stuff like leaving and not coming home for hours and refusing to answer phone calls or texts. Is that considered abuse? When I try and tell him how I feel and he’s allowed to talk but when I talk he says conversation is over. If I try and continue to talk he leaves and doesn’t come home for hours, many times at 2am after the bars close. Is that abuse?

  3. Wow I can think of many more reasons not to quit. For me the main reasons are

    I have no money and no way to support myself and my kids.
    I have no friends and no one to help me

    I’ve only just started dealing with my abusive situation of 20 years, but there seems to be so many things that are not addressed. In my case I’ve had to deal with my husband not allowing me to have transport, finances, telephone, computer, and constant threats that he’ll have me arrested, and he says he’ll make sure I never see my children again if I step out of line. I am now almost 50 and to get out now and work would be impossible.

  4. Yes, that is abuse. We hear that a lot. Is there a support group near you? That is a good first step. Karen.

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  6. I am so sad. My high school sweetheart and I reunited and married 6 months into our relationship. Not knowing he had left a girlfriend and a 2 year old waiting for his return. He manipulated me, her and his family. His family had not attended our marriage. He loved to drink but it got worse when I would confront him about several issues, rumors, etc. When I was pregnant and then miscarried, he seemed not to care. He claimed he had an abusive childhood and tried to numb his pain by drinking. He also misspent my money. To say at least 60,000.00 When I would confront him, he would get angry and would threaten to leave I didnt want to be alone. I was single for 12 years with 2 children from a previous marriage and i didnt want a repeat. I did anything he wanted. So much that I am on the verge of bankruptcy I suffered 3 miscarriages and God granted us a child, a daughter, I knew he was mad because she was not a male child. He was mad that i knew the sex of the baby. He drank heavily and started to get violent with me. On sept 9 of this year I told him to leave. This was after he came out of rehab twice this year and after 3 failed suicide attempts. Of course I was there for him every time. I COULDNT stand the abuse anymore and he did but now I feel guilty for kicking him out of the house. He is with his parents and cliams he is doing better. i know he is abusing the 12 step program I have called him out on it and now he is refusing to talk to me. what can i do to convincehim? I know he never loved me but what can I do to make himbetter

  7. Hi Wendy,
    This is all SO painful. It sounds like your partner is not only an alcoholic but also abusive. If you email me directly, I can think with you about where you might get the support you deserve. It is a very good thing you got him out of the house. You need to think about you and your kids. If you possibly can, keep him out of the house for now and give you and your kids a break from all the crazy making behaviour. Karen –

  8. I was not in denial. I realized it was abuse 2 weeks into the marriage; first emotional, financial, social, escalating to verbal and physical over the years, especially after childbirth. But I stayed mainly because I truly loved him. I also believed in God and committed to my vows. I wanted a family for myself and my daughter. But I wanted change. I left him 3 times, for several months, with him being arrested 2 times and pleading guilty. But deep down in my heart I longed for reconciliation. The “system” was more painful than the abuse, the lawyers, counsellors, support workers with their own agendas. The last time I left, I established myself financially. But the loneliness and grief over the loss of my dreams for a family and my live drove me into reconciliation again. He hasn’t changed. He just smartened up, stopped the physical, but increases the less visible ones. He goes to anger management, tells them what they want to hear to stay out on probation, then comes home blaming me for everything playing his mind games. I haven’t found healing, neither by leaving him, nor by staying…no court, no counsellor, no book, no friend, no family, no church, no support group has helped finding true ‘healing’. I’m still grieving the loss of my dreams…

  9. Ra, my heart goes out to you. Thank you for sharing the painfulness of this. Many women talk about the damage the “system” does. I hear your despair. If you ever want to do one-on-one with me let me know. My email address is . Have you tried a support group for women who have experienced abuse? You deserve support! This is really hard!

  10. I still love
    I don’t want to leave my home
    I take my marriage vows very seriously
    I still have hopes and dreams for the future
    he has threatened me if I leave

  11. I was in a relationship for 12 years with abuse. I have 3 beautiful kids. Over the past 12 years he has been in kids life for maybe 2 years. He would come and go as he pleases leaving me to take care of kids. He was their for the birth of our first baby. But left me alone with my second pregnancy. He finally met him when he was 2 years old. We then had another baby which I had problems with this pregnancy so once again he left me again. When I had my last baby as soon as he found out he was healthy he was back in our lives. I feel like he has used me and my kids. He only came around when the time was right for him. I finally got out of the relationship when the physical abuse started. I have now been on my own for the last 4 years raising my kids on my own. To me I finally called it quits cuz nothing was ever going to change he has to be in control of everything. My kids have seen the way he has treated us throughout the years and now they want nothing more to do with him. So this is my story and I’m glad I’m not alone and other people have gone through what I have!!

  12. Carrie, thank you so much for sharing part of your story. We really appreciate it and I know it will help other women.

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  14. This all sounds so familiar. I stayed because I got pregnant 2 months after we met (we both wanted a child) and after that he worked on my self esteem until I truly believed I couldn’t handle life without him (we were also living in isolation). Three years later he discarded me like a used rag, as he was secretly planning to reunite with his first wife (of course he lied about the reason). This forced me to take my daughter and move abroad to stay with my mother, totally turning my life upside down in merely two weeks. Since I was still in love with him (it was all in my head) I insisted that he come back and he ended up moving abroad with me and getting me pregnant again. he started being abusive soon after. After another 2-3 years we moved again, this time to my native country, where my family took care of us and provided us with a comfortable lifestyle. But obviously he still wasn’t happy so he kept being abusive. I then got pregnant for the third time and was really expecting his behaviour to change after the birth of our third baby but he was only supportive for a week or two, then it was back to the usual.

    I stayed because of the honeymoon behaviour; somehow I ended up believeing it every time and finding excuses for him. Also out of fear, as he has seen me in some disgraceful situations (I would sometimes use alcohol for escapism, not understanding I was doing it because I was depressed and miserable) and I know that given time he will use that against me, even though he has severely abused alcohol all his adult life. It was basically for the children that I stayed, as he seemed to be a kind father (only recently I started to notice worrying aspects such as favouring one child over another, as well as cruel jokes). He basically made me feel useless, impossible to love by any other man, and would often call ma a waster even though I’ve always done all the work in the house and looked after the kids alone. He made me believe I was fundamentally dysfunctional.

    Now that we are officially through I’m trying to rebuild the person I was before I met him and I’m already so much happier. A friend has suggested writing a book about my experience of being with him, to finally bring up that stifled pain I’ve bottled up for years, so I am doing that when I have time and it is great therapy; I recommend this method to anyone who has kept the silence for years.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing. Please feel free to post your experiences when you can. I think they are very helpful to other women. Karen.

  16. I’ve been with my partner 22 years next month. In March 2015 I found out he had been having an affair. It was so tramatic that I ended up with PTSD. I went to counseling and was given a cognitive therapy tool that I used consistently. It worked and I was actually free of trauma. I wasn’t expecting what came next. I guess a fog kind of lifted and I could see him clearly. He was abusive. I knew things didn’t feel right during conflict but I never labeled it abuse. Now I see that it wasn’t just during conflict. I can’t believe I didn’t realize, I’m in shock. It’s been just about 2 months since I really see him/us. I have called him out, he has been horrible verbally. I’ve been reading an amazing book to help my reconize the signs, I can’t unknow what I know. I’m gathering strength to leave though I just backed out of signing a rental agreement so I’m not there yet. He’s telling me it’s not that bad, then he says I’m so sorry, stop making it a big deal, I shouldn’t have done that…etc. It’s all part of the game. Now he’s doing work sheets about abuse from my book but then turns around and does the opposite during conversation. He will not change, he’s 53, he was abusive before me too. The subtle ways of abuse, it’s not always a black eye that’s for sure.

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