Ann Silvers, Counselor Counselor, Personal & Relationship Coach Ann Silvers, Gig Harbor Counselor

Reasons People Stay in Abusive Relationships


There are many reasons why people choose to stay in abusive relationships. The reasons may be complex and deeply rooted in private and cultural patterns or they may simply be that they know of no practical alternative. Any or all of the following may be factors:

  • Love for the abusive partner.
  • Hope that things will be better. The honeymoon phase of the abuse cycle keeps reigniting hope that the abuse is finished.
  • Denial:  People often find it difficult to admit to themselves that they are abused.
  • Shame: over feeling like they are giving up, like they have failed.
  • Guilt: Abusers are skilled at blaming their victims for making them abuse.
  • Economics: Worry over the cost of a separate household.
  • Fear of losing their children.
  • Fear of losing their place in society.
  • Fear of the unknown.
  • Fear of retaliation.  The victim of abuse becomes conditioned to there being a “price to pay” whenever they try to stand up for themselves. Abusers may threaten reprisals if the victim leaves.
  • Social pressure to stay married.
  • Overemphasis on patience & forgiveness to the detriment of justice & respect.
  • Isolation: Abusers often isolate their partners from their friends & family.
  • Low self-confidence: Abuse undermines a persons’ sense that they can manage on their own.
  • Not knowing where to turn.

Too often, responsibility for ending abuse is shifted to abused parties by blaming them for not leaving abusive relationships. It fails to hold abusers accountable for abusive behavior and avoids the obvious question, “Why doesn’t the abuser choose to leave (even go for a walk) rather than choosing to abuse?