Why Would She Stay In An Abusive Relationship?

Suffering and Healing | | , Senior Editor & Writer
Updated On: January 24, 2024
women in abusive relationships
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Why women stay in abusive relationships is a nut that is hard to crack. Whether it is emotional abuse or domestic abuse, women often end up condoning it. Well, not with their words but their actions. Staying in an abusive relationship can have a variety of reasons. Women in abusive relationships may be struggling with personal insecurity, lack of confidence, low self-esteem and a need for love.

It is also possible that their love inundates their mind and blinds them to the extent that they are unable to see what is right for them. A woman who cannot stand up for herself needs therapy, help and support from the people around her. It can take a long time for her to even recognize abuse, let alone defend herself and walk away from that relationship.

A controlling spouse, a jealous boyfriend or a stalker ex – why women stay in abusive relationships has to do with living in denial and not being able to acknowledge the reality of their situation.

Why Do Women Stay With Abusive Men?

Sometimes we know the truth and yet we can’t do what we should do. Love, often, happens to be the greatest culprit. Whoever said that love was one of the simplest of emotions, was so utterly wrong. Falling in love too fast changes the wiring of the most logical of brains and makes them behave irrationally and weakly. If I tell you the story of my friend, you will know what I mean.

This friend of mine, whom I’ve known since my college days, met her current husband in college itself. It was a paint-the-town-red kind of passionate romance. So their getting married seemed a logical conclusion. Both being Bengalis and both being from the same caste, there was also no parental opposition. It was quite a fairy-tale wedding, replete with an array of my favorite non-vegetarian dishes!

We lost touch after they moved abroad

Within a year she was blessed with a child and soon after that her husband got himself a job in Canada and so they left. We kept in touch through emails, because international phone calls were still quite expensive in those days.

Then, time did what it does best – it got us both bogged down with raising a family and earning a living. The communication went down and slowly became abysmally less.

This was till a year ago when I got an email from her that said that she had come back to India. And wonder of wonders – she was in Delhi. We set up a rendezvous at the All American Diner at the Habitat Centre, a place we loved going to.

Friend sympathises friend
Friend sympathies friend

Something told me it would be a long conversation. I could not have been truer with my prediction. What started in the morning ended late evening and what she said to me during that span of time shocked me. That’s when I began questioning everything I knew about her relationship. Why women stay in abusive relationships is beyond me.

Women in abusive relationships – Her secret

They were in their 16th year of marriage and through all these years she had suffered at the hands of this man. Not one incident of physical abuse, but immense mental torture and emotional abuse. Right from blaming her for anything that ever went wrong in the household to forbidding her to wear certain kinds of clothes in public.

From making her cut-off contacts with all her men friends to not letting her talk to her parents on weekends simply because she had to cook for all his friends who were coming over. She went on telling me – incident after incident – and I silently listened to her. Her face was expressionless and calm, while incessant tears rolled down mine.

When she finished, I sat there silently until the waiter came with the bill. The walk outside should have been refreshing, but I felt stifled. My friend answered the questions that were running through my mind.

Is my boyfriend controlling? Quiz

Why would she stay on with the abusive husband?

“You want to know why such a free-spirited and independent thinking person like me is still in this marriage?”

I nodded.

“You want to know why I didn’t tell you about this much earlier?”

I nodded again.

Related Reading: How To Cope With Feeling Lonely In Marriage

Her answers had me dumbfounded. She said that she hadn’t opened up to anyone. I had been the first. And this was not because she was scared, but because she wanted to protect her husband. It wasn’t because she was scared of leaving him and starting a new life, but because she still loved him.

“Love? You have got to be insane!” I screamed at her. Why do women stay with abusive men? Because they have shrouded themselves in the garb of what seems to be love.

She responded with one of the calmest of smiles and a nod in the affirmative. I had tried to make her see reason and tried to tell her that this was not good for her, but she just refused to listen. How can one reach out and help when the victim is going around wearing rose-tinted glasses even after so much abuse? Fixing a toxic relationship was not the answer. She needed to walk out of this immediately.

We are still very much in touch, but we never talk about her marriage anymore. It’s a topic left for time to unfold. I can only hope that someday she will realize. Till then, all that I can say is that love can indeed make you irrational.


1. How does emotional abuse affect a woman?

Emotional abuse can really take a toll on a woman’s mental health and on her life. It can make her a victim who is unable to realize what is right for her. It can blind her to the point where she is fragile and unable to stand up for herself and assert herself.

2. How do you deal with a woman that has been abused?

A woman who has been abused needs therapy and counseling to restore her self-esteem and be able to turn over a new leaf. She needs positive and empowering people around her to believe in her and show her what a good life can be.

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Readers Comments On “Why Would She Stay In An Abusive Relationship?”

  1. Physical abuse should not invite a second chance…it is unacceptable…and must never be forgiven..

    Yes women tend to stay back even dispite the above and emotional abuse because they are programmed that way and goaded by family and friends to stay put…..

    Where is the love here ???

  2. Abused women find it difficult to leave their abusive relationship. They may have good reasons to leave but they also have reasons to stay which range from fear to limitations imposed on women by dominant societal beliefs.

    A lot of people in abusive relationships stay because they love their partner and think that things will change. They might also believe their partner’s behaviour is due to tough times or feel as though they can change their partner if they are a better partner themselves.

    This is the case in this piece. But I just don’t understand how can a person be in love with someone who just doesn’t care about her partner.

    1. Physical abuse should not invite a second chance…it is unacceptable…and must never be forgiven..

      Yes women tend to stay back even dispite the above and emotional abuse because they are programmed that way and goaded by family and friends to stay put…..

      Where is the love here ???

      1. There is me who have given him a second chance because he said sorry and i understood his problem in this way that i might be so much angry someday and beat him as i did with my elder brother or brother did with me.Realisation is most important according to me and lady knows very well that this realisation is actual or fake.

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