Reasons Why Women Keep Going Back To Abusive Partners

Expert Speak , Suffering and Healing | | Expert Author
Updated On: March 8, 2023
Why do abused women keep going back

Throughout the ages, human life has been about survival. We’d hardly find any soul who hasn’t been through something difficult – the magnitudes may vary – and emerged from it. That’s survival. And it’s through the same process of survival that we discover love, kindness, affection, generosity and trust in ourselves.

Any kind of struggle therefore brings out that primordial part from within, which wants to survive; which knows that it has survived once and so it will again. And yet, sometimes, we return to people and situations who are harmful, detractors to our health and happiness and survival. A sobering example and question is, why do abused women keep going back to their abusers?

Any kind of survival is only possible when we have the key to our own grit and determination. But what if we have no idea that unknowingly we have given it to someone else and we keep hoping that we will emerge victorious and survive? And so women keep going back to an abusive ex. That is the cycle of abuse.

Why Women Return To Their Abusers

Every time we return to an abusive partner we make them stronger by giving them the very power that would have not only made us winners, but also allowed us to heal. The truth is that women don’t know how to leave an abusive relationship and not go back. Or otherwise women don’t realize they are in an abusive relationship. This is a harsh reality.

But despite suffering, why do abused women keep going back? Why don’t they seek help? Let’s look at some possible reasons why women return to their abusers, and why they are hesitant to speak about it publicly/socially.

It’s their home

They have lived with their abuser for so long that everything else feels alien. In such situations, they find themselves somewhat similar to the dog in Pavlov’s experiment. They return to the abusive partner because that’s been deeply conditioned into them. Any other environment is nothing but a threat.

Despite the trauma, going back to an abusive ex after a long day still signifies comfort and familiarity for most women. An extreme, but logical example can be Stockholm syndrome where the victim starts feeling affection and trust towards the captor in cases of kidnapping.

Related Reading: 5 Signs Of Emotional Abuse You Should Watch Out For Warns Therapist

Fear coupled with low self-esteem could be the blocked door

Abuse has a permeating effect on every aspect of our personality. It affects our self-esteem in such a way that it steals away all our access, power and control. In such situations people are prone to have a lot of questions in their head, almost always fueled by fear: What will happen if I leave this person? What if the world outside never accepts me? Here, I’m abused I know, but what if I walk out and fail to find love ever again in my life? What if it’s worse?

Simply speaking, women don’t know how to leave an abusive relationship and not go back because they’re conditioned to be afraid of being alone and scared be the center of attention. Victims of abuse don’t want to be perceived as having the behaviors of attention-seeking women in society.

You think they need saving

You see our abusive partner as someone who needs saving. And you may misidentify that as love. Almost obsessively you convince yourself of the fact that he/she is going to change. All this is going to stop one day. It’s only because our partner has been a victim of abuse himself/herself that they go through such phases, but we know we love them and therefore only we can save them.

Going back to an abusive ex
Abuse affects our self-esteem in such a way that it steals away all our access, power and control.

This is completely false. Why do abused women keep going back and why do they still think there is a chance for self-realization? They can never do justice to your love or even treat you well. For the sake of self-preservation, you have to leave them and let them survive if they can.

Related Reading: 12 Completely Valid Reasons To End A Relationship – No Matter What the World Says

Social pressure and embarrassment

These are are lesser known but equal contributing factors that may prevent us from moving away from our abusive partners. We may think that no one will listen to us, or even believe in our stories. If the partner is different in public, treats you with the best of care in front of people and is quite popular among your friends and relatives, you may very well assume that you are at a dead end.

Irrespective of others believing in your story or not, you have all the right to walk away. And it is imperative that you exercise it. Don’t back away because of the fear of judgement from strangers.

The idea of failure too is a dangerous one

Guilt could fuel you into believing that because you had invested so much into this relationship, now that it isn’t working, it’s completely your fault. Women don’t want to carry around the unnecessary baggage of guilt. It is one of the main reasons why women return to their abusers. You may feel a sense of personal failure.

And just so that you can redeem yourself in some inexplicable way, you may want to return to an abusive partner – which in truth is the worst kind of failure you bring to yourself. Save yourself first!

You may fool yourself into believing that you like the pain

Why women return to their abusers

This, while hard to accept, may not be so rare. There’s a hidden masochist in all of us. It may start with slight sexual rough play, irrespective of our gender. We may even begin to like it.

But sometimes, these boundaries are transcended and spill over into other areas of our lives, causing us physical and emotional pain. We may then tag that part of us as the masochistic-giver, but are almost always unaware of the dangerous aftermath it can manifest within us.

Related Reading: I Want To Give Up On My Alcoholic, Abusive Husband

For most women, going back to an abusive ex is more feasible because they are scared of the repercussions of breaking social norms. Women are afraid to fight for their right. But every human, man or woman, has the right to freedom. How long can you wait till you get to live on your own terms?


1. How does emotional abuse affect a woman?

It breaks her self-esteem and traumatizes her completely. She is going to have trust issues in every relationship in her life.

2. Why do victims stay in contact with their abusers?

Because they are afraid of the repercussions. They are scared to rebel against the societal norms because they feel people will judge them.

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