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Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Getting Help Exiting an Abusive Relationship
I am in an abusive relationship right now and have been for 14 months. I've left quite a few times and always go back. I don't understand why I can't just leave him behind me and not look back. It seems like I'm always depressed and there's not a day when I'm happy for the whole day. Half the reason he is the way he is is because he is on crack-cocaine really bad and when it runs out I get the bad end of it. I just don't understand why I can't go. Its like I think hes going to change but deep in my heart I know if he does it will be a long time. I dont know, I saw this website and thought I could get somebody to talk to about it because I seem to hide all of my problems from my family now.
Well, I want to begin by normalizing your question. Many women find themselves in relationships that they know on some level are not good for them, but why do they choose to stay?
You yourself named one big reason why many stay - and that is, hope. They hope he will change and become the man that they once knew or had hoped him to be.
If you are familiar with the cycle of abuse, it can explain why women stay in many cases.
There is the tension-building stage. Here, the abuser is moody, isolating, yelling; he may be using drugs or alcohol. This is followed by the acute explosion stage. He may hit, choke, intimidate, use weapons, slap, or rape during this stage.
This is followed by the honeymoon stage. Here, the abuser says "I'm sorry", begs for forgiveness, promises to get counseling; he is charming and often displays the behaviors and gestures that you remember or appreciate most about him in the past. The behavior during this stage unfortunately sets the victim up for another abusive event. It is here that she often decides to stay because he is different during this stage.
You are attempting to manage quite a lot - his behavior, his using, his abuse - perhaps you must ask yourself: What are the rewards? Is he capable of demonstrating behaviors that are healthy on a consistent basis? Or am I spending more time wishing he were different?
Women often stay:
- for financial reasons
- because they are isolated from others
- because they are dependent on him for lack of confidence in self
- for fear of being on their own
Sometimes it helps to seek support from professionals who can help you sort out the dynamics of your relationship. There are resources in your community that can help you better understand yourself, as well as the behavior of someone who is abusive and/or using drugs. Please seek appropriate support so that you can become empowered to make a decision that is right for you.
Cathy McDaniels-Wilson, PhD
Department of Sociology
The Ohio State University