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Why do women stay in abusive relationships? Most people say, “Just leave!” but if it were that easy, all abused women would do that. But it’s not. It’s hard to comprehend the complexity of deciding whether to stay or leave. Most people think it’s as simple as packing your bags and walking out, but for most women, it’s not. There are emotional demons they battle with daily that prevent them from just leaving. For those who have a hard time understanding why women stay in abusive relationships, here are 8 reasons why it’s just not that easy for them and one way you can help if you know a woman in a toxic situation.

Love

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Despite the abuse, women love their partners. She will hold onto the memories of how wonderful the relationship was in the beginning and hold out hope that one day it can return to that. It’s important to remember, also, that abusive partners are not abusive all the time. They have many loving moments that can confuse the woman who feels trapped. The abuser may even apologize for his behavior and promise ‘I’ll never do that again.’ As a result, women may still experience feelings of love and affection for their partners.

Fear

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She’s afraid of him; she’s scared of the world outside her home; she’s scared of what will happen to her in the future; she’s scared of a lot of things. Fear is very crippling and will leave you stuck somewhere you shouldn’t be. Many women don’t have enough confidence in themselves to leave and make it on their own. Many women also fear for their safety and the safety of their children. They are too terrified to leave. For someone looking in, it’s hard to understand this level of fear and rationalize it.

Hope

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Women may stay in abusive relationships because they hope that their partner will change. They may believe that things will get better if they persevere, even though the abuse continues to happen. We’ve been with him so long we can’t imagine our life without him, so we hold on to the hope that he will get better. People change. Surely, he will too. We’ve convinced ourselves that one day he will recognize his hurtful behavior, apologize, and improve himself.

Nowhere to Go

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Many women have nowhere to go. They don’t have family or friends close by that they can run to for help. It’s also important to understand that some women have been with their abusers for many years, which makes it even more difficult to leave. Their partner has been supporting them for years, and leaving them is terrifying, especially if they don’t have jobs or their own source of income. They rely on their partner’s money, making it hard for them to leave.

She has Nothing

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They have relied on him for everything. They don’t have jobs, money, savings, belongings, or anything. Most women have been stay-at-home housewives all their lives. If they leave him, they will be broke and homeless. What are they supposed to do? How are they supposed to live? Especially if they have children still at home. They have no answers—only fear. It’s hard to leave when the future is so uncertain, especially when facing the daunting chore of starting over with nothing.

Fear of Being Alone

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Sadly, for some women, being single and alone is terrifying. They don’t have enough self-worth or self-confidence to feel they can survive on their own, so they cling to our partners, no matter how toxic they are. Women think that no matter how toxic their partner is, at least they have someone in their lives. This thinking leads to toxic co-dependency, and this is the trap that keeps them stuck.

It’s Not That Bad

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There are other women and people who have it way worse. The abused woman will convince herself that he’s not that bad. She can handle it. Besides, he does have some good days. He’s not bad all the time. At least he hasn’t tried to kill me yet. This sort of survival thinking is damaging. She will put up with the abuser and the abuse because she believes that she is way better off than some.

Emotional Manipulation

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Most abusers will use emotional manipulation to make sure their partner doesn’t leave them. Some will threaten suicide or make them believe that they can’t live without them and that they are better off with them. Others will warn you that if you leave, ‘such and such will happen,’ which is usually something really tragic that will cause the woman to fear for her or his life. This is bullying and controlling behavior.

How You Can Help

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There are many ways you can help. Reach out to her and let her know that you are there for her to help in any way you can. She needs to know there’s a safe place for her when she finally leaves. You can give her some emergency numbers to call in case she feels her life is in danger. Let her know about women’s shelters in the area (most women don’t know where they are or that they even exist). Abuse is everyone’s business.

How to End a Toxic Relationship With Someone You Love

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It can be really hard to end a relationship, no matter how much you love the person or how toxic they are. Here are some steps to help.
  • How to End a Toxic Relationship
  • Iva Ursano
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    Iva Ursano is a solo female traveler originally from Canada and currently residing in Guatemala. After hitting rock bottom in 2013, she completely reinvented her life at 52 years old, packed up two suitcases, and bought a one-way ticket to Central America. She runs this website for women over 50 to help them make the rest of their lives the best of their lives while feeding street dogs and helping the less fortunate in the town she now calls home, Panajachel. You can follow her on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram (Street Dogs of Guatemala)

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