If you have known someone in an abusive marriage, I'm sure you've wondered why they stay. What motivates a person to stay in a relationship that causes them emotional and physical pain? It's puzzling and hard to imagine but there are reasons. Reasons that all seem like good reasons to the victim of abuse. They stay because of:
In most abusive marriages, violence doesn't happen daily. There are days or weeks, even months between episodes of violence. During those peaceful times, the abuser may be a very loving and kind person. These peaceful times give the victim of abuse hope that the abuse won't happen again. The love and affection the victim receives during this time only ties them more deeply to the abuser. Unbelievably, it's hard the walk away from someone you love. Especially when there is hope for change no matter how irrational that hope is.
A person may feel that, if they leave they will have no way to support them self and their children. For instance, a stay at home mom is completely dependent on the financial support of her husband. An abusive marriage can be more attractive than the idea of leaving with no where to go and no money to take with you.
3. Religious Beliefs
Some victims feel that divorce goes against their religious beliefs. Some may feel divorce is to be avoided at all expense, even their own safety. Scripture tells us to submit to our husbands. There are those who skew the true meaning behind such scripture and feel they are duty bound to stay in the marriage.
4. Low Self-Esteem
The self-esteem of some victims is so low they feel they deserve the violence. They may fear they will not be able to find someone else if they leave. They may not have enough faith in themselves to survive if they leave. These beliefs about themselves are only reinforced by the actions of the abuser.
The abuser may threaten to kill the victim, take their children away, and stalk them or any number of things to cause the victim to fear leaving. Fear for your life can be all the motivation a person needs to stay in an abusive relationship.
The victim may feel responsible for the abuse and may feel he/she has failed in some way. Shame can keep the victim from reaching out and asking for help or telling others what is happening in their marriage.
The abuser's threats and need for control can cause the victim to become cut off from communicating with friends and family. The abuser becomes the victims only support system, not only their victimizer.