Why do people stay in abusive relationships?

There are many, many reasons why women and men don’t leave an abusive relationship.  Often it is because they don’t realise that they are being abused.  They think it is normal.  I know from experience that I believed the emotional, psychological and financial abuse I suffered was normal.  I thought everyone’s relationship worked in this way.  It wasn’t until I literally woke up one day and thought ‘this is n’t normal’ and started really looking at other people’s relationships that I realised I was in an abusive relationship.

I went and consulted a solicitor who agreed that not only was this an abusive relationship but I had grounds for divorce.  Unreasonable behaviour. And so I took my courage in both hands and filed for divorce.

What is an abusive relationship?

One where you are treated in one or more of these ways:

Manipulated – Have their will imposed on you so you do as they say without realising it

Controlled – told what to wear, what to do, where to go, where you can and can’t work, who you can and can’t speak to

Insulted – in private and/or in public

Treated as a possession

Told that everything is your fault

Deprived of money – only allowed so much a day not allowed your own income

Deprived of friends – not allowed to have friends

Only allowed a mobile phone as long as you only call the abuser and they control the bill

Psychologically mistreated – made to feel worthless

Emotionally mistreated – constantly told you are useless and nobody wants you

Physically – beaten, burned, tortured

Sexually – raped, made to perform acts you don’t want to, made to be part of a threesome

Verbally – shouted at, berated in front of other people, made to feel small and inadequate

Held prisoner/locked up

Made to have meals on the table at specific times and threatened with various consequences if they don’t appear on time.

Interestingly in 1995 a national survey showed that just under 50% of abusers are in fact female.

I believe that most of the reasons that people don’t leave abusive relationships, once they realise what it is, stem from fear.

Most of the fears are understandable, but often irrational.  For instance, fear of having no money if they leave.  Because women are generally at home looking after the children, they don’t have any income of their own.  The fear of financial ruin builds in the mind until it becomes ‘I can’t survive if I leave’. And so they stay.

Fear of losing the children. If a man has been abused he may find it very difficult to leave with the children.

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Most of the fears are understandable, but often irrational.  For instance, fear of having no money if they leave.  It may be they don’t have any income of their own.  The fear of financial ruin builds in the mind until it becomes ‘I can’t survive if I leave’. And so they stay.

Fear of what other people might think.  There is often a social stigma that labels people as failures if they dare to leave their partners.  Usually nobody outside the home realises what is going on which adds to that stigma.  This leads to feelings of insecurity. And so they stay.

Fear of what might happen to them at the hand of their partner if they did leave.  Often people believe that their partner will come after them and kill them and/or their children. The threats are made to them over and over again, until they are ingrained in their mind.  And so they stay.

People often fear that they are the reason that they are abused.  That it is their fault. And if they were to change their ways their abusive partner would be different.  A false supposition.  And so they stay.

Of course, the abuser will tell their partner that they will change, they won’t do it again. But they do. They never change.

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I know how difficult it is to leave an abusive relationship.  I was verbally, emotionally and financially abused by my first husband. He would belittle me in front of the children and other people, always tell me that I knew nothing, that I was of no use and he would do anything to stop me succeeding at anything.  Add to that the fact that my parents believed that I should make the marriage work because I was too young, in their opinion, to know what I was doing, and I was financially dependent. And so I stayed.  I stayed 10 years.

I did, eventually, wake up to the fact that it was not normal to be treated in this way, and found the courage to leave and take the children with me and started a new life in a different town.  The feeling of relief was immense.  Although I was threatened with all sorts of things, such as having the children removed, losing my flat etc., I discovered that the threats were empty.  And this is probably true of most abusers.  They are cowards and when someone actually stands up to them, they generally back off.

There are ways out of this horrendous situation.  There are both men’s and women’s refuges who will help you so that you can get yourself out of the abusive home.  Once you are out and can think about what options there are for you, there are counsellors and life coaches who can help you see yourself as you, the real person, and not a punch bag.

There are various organisations who can and will help you to start your new life. Social Services and the Police will work together to ensure that you are safe and help you to move on with your life. They will give you respite and guidance in a safe environment. There are solicitors, the Samaritans, Citizens’ Advice, Relate and they can all point you in the right direction for help. Schools will have contacts if you are worried about your children. There is a whole lot that can be done for you once you are out of the abusive situation and in a safe place. There are protocols that can be introduced and put into action for you.

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There are trusted friends and family who may be able to help you too.

If I had known about life coaching back then I would have been first in the queue.

There is no reason good enough to actually justify staying in an abusive relationship.

It can be hard to admit that you are in an abusive relationship.  But if you think you are being abused and you are unhappy, get out of that relationship as soon as possible.  Take your courage in both hands and make the leap.  Often men find it much harder to admit to being abused than women do, but I believe they are just as justified as anyone else.  There is help out there for everyone.

Do you want to remain stuck and miserable? If your answer is no, find your way to get out and start your new life on your own terms.

Remember, the relationship has failed, not you.  You are not a failure.

If you would like to chat confidentially about your situation, contact me hello@maggiecurrie.co.uk

 

Maggie Currie

Thought Leader, Speaker, Author, Survivor
 
Contributor to BBC Radio, Vectis Radio, Susan Rich Radio
Published author and regularly write articles for national and international magazines.
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Find out more about me on my website.

 

 

Who is the real me?

What does finding the real me really mean? Well to me it means I have uncovered the real sense of my self. I am able to make my own decisions without being manipulated by other people. I am an individual person in my own right and not a clone of someone else. I have re-established a connection my inner self.

For years I was conditioned to not feel, to not show emotion, to not question, to do as I was told. Therefore I hid my feelings and emotions very well.

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I have survived a toxic relationship where I was emotionally and psychologically abused.  I wasn’t allowed to be me, I had to be who my husband thought I ought to be.  I had to subservient, obedient, not talk to other people, be his possession.  Fortunately I gained the courage to divorce him after 12 years.

I have learned through working on myself that is totally not me. I have burrowed deep down inside me and brought out those suppressed feelings that were stuffed down for so long. I do have feelings, they can be hurt and then they hurt I am now able to acknowledge the hurt, feel the hurt and work through the hurt to get to a place where I have dealt with the hurt.

This works for a whole range of feelings, joy, happiness, surprise, sadness etc. I have learned to acknowledge and recognise those feelings, to embrace them and work with them.

I have learned that I do have emotions and it is okay to express these emotions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with me when I express my emotions. I am allowed to cry, I am allowed to let people see my cry. I am allowed to laugh, cry, scream, shout, whatever my emotions dictate. That is me, the real me.

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My conditioning is being slowly changed and I am constantly learning. I am no longer disconnected from the sense of myself, I can make my own decisions and not feel guilty about doing so, I am an individual and proud of it.

I have discovered that I am not average in any way whatsoever. I am a successful businesswoman who has set up and is running two successful businesses. I am an exceptionally intuitive and good coach. I am a successful author of two books which are selling worldwide and changing lives.

I have discovered that I do have a voice and that it is heard. I am seen and heard, I am learning to express my feelings and emotions and I am continuing to learn.

I have a place in this world, and that place is to help people to change their lives, to be able to be confident and able to live their authentic lives and to learn to love themselves and others.

I am on a continuing journey and learning more and more about the authentic me as I go. There are a lot more layers to unveil I am sure.

I have some availability for coaching clients, we just need to fix some dates if and when you want to get started. Get in touch today.

Maggie Currie 

Creedence – Confidence for You

International Confidence Coach, Motivational Speaker, Author

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