4 reasons why people in abusive relationships don’t leave

by Jessica Margolin

Why would anyone choose to stay — a question we often ask.

Here are four reasons I’m aware of:

1. Stockholm Syndrome

This is the propensity of people to identify with their abusers and find and focus on the “good” things about them. They will do whatever they can to protect them from being ever “misunderstood.” This is the situation where a woman with the black eye still says, “no, it’s not that bad! He can be sweet and gentle too… you just don’t understand him like I do.”

2. Nowhere Else To Go

The fear of being homeless is incapacitating. You don’t think straight. You get “stuck” imagining a worst case scenario over and over again. You don’t trust new people…so you choose to stay with the”devil you know.” You think all people are like your abuser, that the whole world is like this. Whatever that is out there can only be worse!

3. Hyper-Responsibility

If the relationship is broken, I, personally, must fix it. It’s not him, it’s me. My parents will be ashamed. My friends, pastor, neighbors, colleagues at work. I’ll have failed. What will my children do without the money my husband brings in – will they ever forgive me for making it nearly impossible for them to attain an education. My gosh, how can I even be so selfish!?

4. Abuse Is Normal

People who grew up in violent homes really don’t know what a home without violence would be like. People who grow up in homes where love is expressed with cruelty thinks that’s what true love is like. Other kinds of love may seem weak, tasteless to them – if you don’t feel enraged from time to time then it must not be love.


Jessica Margolin is a writer, speaker and an expert on intangible asset valuation in business and community.

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