Why do women stay with abusive men?

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Why do women stay with abusive men?

Unread postby James » Mon Nov 03, 2008 1:58 am

I used to 'know' the answer to this question. I've seen too many relationships in which a woman gradually sees less and less in her own value, allows a man to diminish her with his words, and becomes dependent or fearful. Heck, I've even seen it happen to a few guys. But I've seen a few examples, lately, of strong independent women staying with men who abuse them and treat them poorly. Still, after eight 'second chances', they continue. But those same women are often quick to leave a good man when they encounter the sort of trial that should be overcome together.

What have you encountered? I'm not sure why this seems to be so common...

I thought about The Pub—but nah, too gloomy a topic for that forum!
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Re: Why do women stay with abusive men?

Unread postby Lady Wu » Mon Nov 03, 2008 2:49 am

I don't know what kind of answer you're looking for here, because it seems to me you have the answers already.

Each situation is different. Some people stay with an abusive spouse out of fear, some stay because of some kind of obligation ("what would happen to the kids if I leave?"). Some have self-esteem issues and think they can't survive outside of the relationship.

Some abusers may also make each incident look independent, expressing remorse after an incident and promising that it wouldn't happen again. Gifts or bribes of some sort may be used to patch the relationship and make the victim feel that things will be ok.

In other situations, it could be classic inertia--it's easier to stay in a bad situation than to head out to the unknown (where things could be worse).
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Re: Why do women stay with abusive men?

Unread postby James » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:24 am

Yeah, I suppose I do know those things.

I'm just confused because, for the first time, I'm seeing a case which doesn't make sense to me.
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Re: Why do women stay with abusive men?

Unread postby Antiochus » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:35 am

I dont think a relationship built on abuse is supposed to make sense, but they happen none the less. I had a friend who stayed with a violent guy because (according to her) she loved him, and thus would change him. Lets just say it ended badly.
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Re: Why do women stay with abusive men?

Unread postby James » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:42 am

Antiochus wrote:Lets just say it ended badly.

They only end one of two ways: badly, or sadly.
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Re: Why do women stay with abusive men?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Mon Nov 03, 2008 3:43 am

Antiochus wrote:she loved him, and thus would change him


And therein, I believe, lies the problem. That sets off the warning klaxons (for me, at least) - getting into, and staying in, a relationship with someone expecting to change him/her is a bad idea (abuse or no abuse).

Lady Wu wrote:Some abusers may also make each incident look independent, expressing remorse after an incident and promising that it wouldn't happen again. Gifts or bribes of some sort may be used to patch the relationship and make the victim feel that things will be ok.


Good point, Lady Wu. I've seen some relationships take this kind of bent before... in fact, I think this scheme might be somewhat systematic to abusive relationships.

James wrote:But I've seen a few examples, lately, of strong independent women staying with men who abuse them and treat them poorly. Still, after eight 'second chances', they continue. But those same women are often quick to leave a good man when they encounter the sort of trial that should be overcome together.


Believe me, I really don't know the answer to this one, but I think it's a good question to be asking. Thanks for posting this topic, James - I think you picked the right board for it.
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Re: Why do women stay with abusive men?

Unread postby James » Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:15 am

WeiWenDi wrote:
Antiochus wrote:she loved him, and thus would change him

And therein, I believe, lies the problem. That sets off the warning klaxons (for me, at least) - getting into, and staying in, a relationship with someone expecting to change him/her is a bad idea (abuse or no abuse).

One thing I have learned—one thing which I try very hard to teach people I know—is that a relationship can only survive the test of time, and remain filled with love, if each party learns to accept and love the other for the person they are. I make my best effort to see a person for who they are before I enter a relationship. It generally means I spend a good portion of time single (about half of my adult life), but at least the time I've spent with someone has been incredible.

I suppose, too, a hope of changing a person lies behind the abuse as well.

WeiWenDi wrote:Believe me, I really don't know the answer to this one, but I think it's a good question to be asking. Thanks for posting this topic, James - I think you picked the right board for it.

Thanks. I just see this sort of thing with surprising—depressing?—regularity. I shouldn't have to encounter this sort of thing so frequently in my lifetime. Nobody should. I hear of it frequently from people I meet and it has been discussed many times in this very forum by forum members (though I don't think we've ever discussed it in a topic).

Another thing I've noticed: while I'm generally quite capable of explaining a difficult situation to people, including emotional and painful situations, I find it all but impossible to get through to someone in this sort of relationship.
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Re: Why do women stay with abusive men?

Unread postby Tigger of Kai » Mon Nov 03, 2008 4:42 pm

James wrote:Another thing I've noticed: while I'm generally quite capable of explaining a difficult situation to people, including emotional and painful situations, I find it all but impossible to get through to someone in this sort of relationship.

But why would you even try, unless she came to you and expressed an unambiguous resolve to change herself?

To me, this is the real question: not "why do women stay with abusive men?", but, "why do nice guys fritter away their lives trying to 'fix' people who don't want to be fixed, when they should instead move on, pausing only to sigh at the fact that the world contains such chronically unhappy people?"
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Re: Why do women stay with abusive men?

Unread postby WeiWenDi » Mon Nov 03, 2008 5:14 pm

James wrote:One thing I have learned—one thing which I try very hard to teach people I know—is that a relationship can only survive the test of time, and remain filled with love, if each party learns to accept and love the other for the person they are. I make my best effort to see a person for who they are before I enter a relationship.


Definitely a sound policy.

James wrote:Thanks. I just see this sort of thing with surprising—depressing?—regularity. I shouldn't have to encounter this sort of thing so frequently in my lifetime. Nobody should. I hear of it frequently from people I meet and it has been discussed many times in this very forum by forum members (though I don't think we've ever discussed it in a topic).

Another thing I've noticed: while I'm generally quite capable of explaining a difficult situation to people, including emotional and painful situations, I find it all but impossible to get through to someone in this sort of relationship.


Yeah - I've seen these kinds of systems of abuse in other kinds of relationships, too. One of my best friends in college had been verbally, physically and sexually abused repeatedly by her father, and did end up running away at age 13 - yet even when she was at college she spoke sympathetically, even kindly of him. I'm not sure that if I were her I could have done the same. But then again, she didn't speak a lot about it (not that she actively avoided the subject, but just that it was a painful one), and I could only approach the situation from an outside view. I didn't have that personal connexion that she had, either to her father or to the abuse.

So I can understand the not being able to 'get through to someone in this sort of relationship', but on some level that might not even be the right way of looking at it. While of course domestic abuse is wrong and should be stopped, the relationship aspect complicates matters with deep psychological baggage. I don't think that it's the case in these examples that you're not getting through to them - it's not as though a person's rational capacity ends once they wind up in a close personal relationship. But at the same time, there's a whole lot of other things going on in the victim's world.

Don't know if that made any sense, but...

Tigger of Kai wrote:To me, this is the real question: not "why do women stay with abusive men?", but, "why do nice guys fritter away their lives trying to 'fix' people who don't want to be fixed, when they should instead move on, pausing only to sigh at the fact that the world contains such chronically unhappy people?"


Just so you're aware, Tigger, there's no law on the books as far as I know that requires you to type down every ill-considered thought that bounces around in your brain and then hit 'Submit'.

Domestic violence is no laughing matter, no sighing matter and no mere personality quirk, and intervention falls pretty far from 'frittering away' one's life.
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Re: Why do women stay with abusive men?

Unread postby James » Mon Nov 03, 2008 6:23 pm

WeiWenDi wrote:Just so you're aware, Tigger, there's no law on the books as far as I know that requires you to type down every ill-considered thought that bounces around in your brain and then hit 'Submit'.

Domestic violence is no laughing matter, no sighing matter and no mere personality quirk, and intervention falls pretty far from 'frittering away' one's life.

There's quite a bit of truth in his observation. I see people trying to impose their will upon another to unrealistic points frequently enough, and even more noteworthy are those who get into a relationship with this sort of person and wind up being abused and unhappy themselves while devoting years of their life trying to change the other. Not exactly on topic, but it is worth considering for a person in the reverse situation.

I know I won't be getting into a relationship with this sort of person ever again.
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