Why do people stay in abusive relationships?

October is Domestic Violence Awareness month. Unfortunately I have personally known several victims of domestic violence. I have witnessed many knock out drag out brawls as a youngster. For some of the abused women, it was a one time incident that led to an immediate dissolution of the relationship.  Other women and men I have known stayed in the abusive relationship for what I felt was an eternity under the circumstances. I have also cared for patients that I had to hide under the guise of an alias after being hospitalized after a brutal run in with their abuser. There was one scary incident in particular where a family member leaked the patient’s fake identity to the abuser and then he called to threaten my patient that he was headed to the hospital to finish the job.  I had to move the patient and put the security team and police on high alert for the suspect. It was bananas!

I have always tried to figure out why someone would ever chose to stay after being battered repeatedly. Then one evening in September I got my answer from the most unexpected source- Twitter. Something magical happened on the night Janay Rice took to Instagram to defend her husband after he lost his job in the NFL due to the elevator debacle. #WhyIStayed became a trending topic.  #WhyIStayed helped me to realize that it is not as easy as packing up your stuff and hitting the road. Abuse can escalate violence quickly when the victim tries to leave. Sometimes the abuser has broken the person down so much that they start to believe that they deserve the abuse. There can be many reasons but I figured it would be best for me to allow the survivors own words to explain the reasons why they stayed.








Contrary to popular belief, domestic violence is not just an issue that affects women. It is one that affects men and women worldwide. It’s a sad epidemic. This thread made me shift my thinking from why do people stay in abusive relationships to how can I help someone in an abusive relationship? What is one thing I could do to support someone trying to leave?

For starters, I would definitely let the victim know that you are not alone.  There are people who are willing to help you escape the violence. There are various organizations that help victims leave these types of situations. Contact the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or head to their website to identify resources in your area.  You are worthy of love that doesn’t hurt physically, mentally, or emotionally.

End Domestic Violence



  1. Marije Bijlsma

    It´s common for people who haven´t been in such a relationship to not understand why they won´t leave. The partner often has such a high level of control over the victim that it´s nearly impossible. In my case my abusive partner controlled my money, my every move and made me believe that I was worthess on my own. But, there is always a way out! And I think it´s important to let them know and offer help where needed!

    1. Brittany

      Thanks Marije for offering your insight. It has been so eye opening to actually hear stories from survivors of abuse. I’m so glad you were able to escape that situation. I agree that there is always a way out. Us outsiders just have to stop judging and offer to help when we can!

  2. Lubka Christova

    I’ve been talking on this subject on my blog too. It’s a deep one indeed.
    I know where I stand and as a friend, my motto is always – be there to support whenever they need you. Don’t leave the victim, because if you do, she might not have anyone else to pull her out.

    Lu | http://www.balgarka.co.uk

  3. Veronica Lee

    My cousin stayed in an abusive relationship because she too, was afraid her husband would take the kids.

    1. Brittany

      That’s so sad. It seems like fear and finances are the main reasons people stick around in these types of situations.

  4. AngieT

    It is so sad too, that many of the victims do everything to hide the fact that they’re in an abusive relationship. And you can’t help while they don’t ask for it, and if you try, you will be the bad person. And sometimes you also get into trouble…
    Thanks for the posts and the thoughts.


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