Why Does She Stay in an Abusive Relationship?
by Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D.
I often hear people ask why does she stay in an abusive marriage? The knee-jerk reply to this question traditionally has lots to do with economic security issues, traumatic attachment, social “norms” or religious beliefs about marriage... I’m sure you’ve heard them all.
But at the end of the day, there is only one reason why she stays in her relationship. And that is because in that moment of time the decision to do that is the right decision for her.
Knowing What Is Best for You
It’s a very difficult place to be in when you are standing in the center of trauma, or witnessing tragedy from behind, all while not knowing if and how much more is coming your way.
No one holds a crystal ball. But each of us has the ability to hear their inner knowing and yield to its direction. And when you do, chances are you are making the right decision for you.
What Others Say about Domestic Violence
Well-meaning family and friends may tell you to go. Their message is to get as far away from the batterer as humanly possible. They want you to be safe from the threat of potential danger to yourself and your children.
Your in-laws may even say the same... “Leave him, before it’s too late.” “Leave him before you cannot leave him...before he kills you.”
The professionals may even tell you that you are in a very dangerous situation and you “should” get out. Yet, the domestic violence advocates will ask, what does your gut tell you?
Your Vote Trumps All Others
You are the only one who gets to vote in on this one. You are the only one who can see the larger picture for you.
I have seen cases where people make decisions about domestic violence based on the implications of their abusive relationship on a child from another marriage. Their decision not to rock the boat with respect to their custody of this child could color the steps they take amidst domestic violence.
Then there are those whose financial limitations or religious convictions are such that their decision to stay or go also has less to do with what others see as safety issues and more to do with their larger life picture.
Respecting What You Know to Be True
Your decision to stay in or leave your marriage is yours and only yours. It is your job to unveil this, respect it and follow the guidance therein. Trust that you can find your safety and what’s right for you.
For educational and therapeutic resources helping domestic abuse survivors, visit www.preventabusiverelationships.com/ebooks.php and step into peace. Psychologist Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps individuals nationwide end and heal from domestic abuse.
© Jeanne King, Ph.D. — Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention
Dr. Jeanne King is a licensed psychologist and domestic abuse consultant. Feel free to contact us if you need help with physical and/or emotional pain, stress-related illnesses, or relationship abuse issues at home or in court. Contact Us to reach Dr. King.