Abusive Relationships – Why Do Victims Stay?

June 16, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly

I stayed in my abusive marriage hoping that my abuser would see the error in his ways and work to change. I made a plan to stay that resulted in me leaving.

I think there are three broad reasons why people remain in abusive relationships:

  1. The victim doesn't realize they're being abused.
  2. The victim knows they're being abused, but doesn't want to leave the relationship.
  3. The victim knows they're being abused, but isn't ready to leave due to finances, values, fears, or any other reason.

I certainly honor each group's position. After all, I've been in each of the three groups at one time or another. This story occurred when I was unsure about leaving and making plans on how to stay married to my abusive husband.

Doing the 'Right Thing' Isn't as Simple as Leaving

As soon as I realized I was being abused, I felt pressured to run away from my abusive marriage as fast and hard as I could. I thought that I "should" leave immediately - all the literature I'd read said so, and society doesn't understand why anyone would stay in an abusive relationship. I wanted to prove to someone that I wasn't making up the abuse, and I thought that if I stayed, then I was saying "the abuse isn't real."

The pressure was high to "do the right thing." For most onlookers, doing the right thing means leaving. For me, doing the right thing meant staying. At least temporarily.

Why I Stayed in My Abusive Marriage

I'd been married 17 years when I figured out that my husband abused me verbally and mentally. I knew that the three times he'd laid his hands on me constituted physical abuse, but I didn't understand that the verbal and mental manipulation he used was also abuse, and I didn't recognize the fact that the physical abuse was his last resort when the other types of control and abuse didn't work to his satisfaction.

I'd blamed his alcoholism and temper - two negative traits that can be controlled if the person "suffering" from them wants to change their behavior. When I told him that he was verbally abusive, he said that was only the newest label I wanted to lay on him. He didn't take it seriously at all. He didn't care what I thought.

He told me he liked who he was and wouldn't change. In my naivete, I did not believe him.

Tough-Love Plan to End Abuse

I decided that it was time for some tough love. I wasn't going to put up with the abuse anymore, and I thought I owed him the opportunity to see the problem as I did and change his behavior.

Over the next year, I changed my responses to the abuse. I devised exit strategies and a safety plan. I had the sinking feeling he was giving lip-service to my concerns and fears. Nevertheless, I promised him I would stay and he promised that he would put our marriage first.

A Long-Term Plan for Staying in the Abusive Relationship

I devised a shadowy long-term plan. I told my husband that I had opened a bank account in my name only. I planned to transfer a set amount of money into the account each month, just in case I ever needed to leave the house for an extended period of time due to the abuse. I told him that by our 25th anniversary, if there was no more abuse in our marriage, then we would use the money to go on a celebratory vacation.

During that time, I would go to school to complete my degree. I thought I needed to buy some time and begin a career so I could support myself and our children if the worst happened. However, I was hopeful that my income would contribute to the two of us, together.

He tolerated my plan. He said he didn't agree with it, but he was willing to go along.

I believed that by being honest with him, he would see how serious I was. Having a plan for myself and our child had worked once before when I asked him to stop drinking (he was dry for 8 years). I thought it would work again. (In hindsight, I would have kept my long-term plan to myself!)

I went to work with my therapist devising new ways to deal with the abuse that I was sure would occur as he learned to control his behavior (I still thought he would change and didn't realize I was the one who needed to change). My therapist supported my decision to stay; she didn't judge. I was making decisions for myself, and that was a good thing.

All Plans to End Abuse Failed

Unfortunately, almost a year to the day he last physically abused me, he laid his hands on me again. During one of our discussions in marriage counseling, I had told him that if he did that again, I would leave and not look back. I decided to stick to my guns.

Looking back, living with the verbal and emotional abuse for that year was too much for me. Now that I could identify the verbal and mental abuse, I saw it all the time in almost every conversation. The marriage wasn't the same; I wasn't the same. He wasn't trying to change, only trying to convince me that he didn't need to change.

Physical violence ended my marriage, but I think it was over about the time I was making plans to stay.

Who else is planning to stay with their abusive mate in hope that they will change?

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, June 16). Abusive Relationships – Why Do Victims Stay?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 30 2015 at 6:50 am

Serena, I kept it quiet to protect myself. I did tell him I was close to leaving. That information gave him time to ingratiate himself to our sons who were starving for their father's attention. The night I left, he left voice mail messages. One said he was glad I left, that was what he'd wanted. He played me on the little bit of information I gave to him, and I wish I'd kept the whole darn plan to myself. It took years to heal the relationship with my older son after his father and I split.
Let me tell you my ultimatum story. Back in '96, I thought the problem was his drinking. We were about to leave Fort Carson (first time he left military). I was fed up. I told him that he could either drink OR be a husband and a father. But I wasn't staying if he chose to drink. Of course, he chose to stop drinking.
And didn't drink for the next 8 years.
But during those 8 years, when he was sober, he acted no differently. Worse even. But because I thought he was "doing something to help himself" I endured. I thought I was crazy. The abuse made me physically and mentally ill. I thought it was me.
The ultimatum you could give might work for a while. But if he goes to therapy there is no guarantee he will talk about how to stop abusing you! You could find his therapist calling you for a talk, then find out he's made you out to be the abuser. Or he could pretend to be going, but go visit a friend instead. If your husband doesn't think he needs to change, he won't change. But he sure as heck could take you up on your offer, force a honeymoon period, and be back at it again as soon as you get comfortable.
Your friends mean well, I'm sure. In a healthy relationship, perhaps that kind of thing does work. But you know you don't have a healthy relationship. You do not feel an ultimatum is the way to go for you, so don't give it.
The friends who advise you to give the ultimatum should NOT be aware of your plans from this point forward. It isn't that you can't trust them so much as they may stick their "well-meaning noses" right to his ear and tell him what you're planning because they don't think what you're doing is fair to him. Abusers have a way of getting information from people, especially ones who would take their side.
Follow your gut, Serena.

April, 24 2015 at 11:03 am

I never wrote about this. Guess I trying to keep my head up high, and act like everything is just fine, since I been married for 38 years. I

April, 10 2015 at 6:55 am

Before the end of our first year together, my boyfriend of now 4 years began his mean streak. Daily degradation and awful names. And all for the stupidest things like putting a towel in the wrong place, or even when he spilt something. Somehow it's my fault.
Everything is always my fault.
Just after our first year anniversary he was first physically abusive. Choked me out, I was drunk and apparently I 'cornered' him. So he says it was my fault.
Four years and multiple names, hits, and slams, and I'm still here. I try not to cry at night when he tries to cuddle up next to me. He took all my finances, everything I saved. Made me quit my job. You call a girl stupid for so long and they begin to believe it and give you everything apparently.
Why am I still here? Well having everything including every drop of confidence taken away from you will do it. I have so much fear. I've tried to leave him, but he always makes me feel awful, like if i leave him his life is over.... and i give in every time.
I'm at my wits end and have been near suicide. My family 1500 miles away keeps me sorta sane. I want to go live with them, but they struggle on their own, let alone to take me in. I can't do it....
So here I stay. taking it everyday. Knowing that every fault that happens here is my own.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 20 2019 at 10:49 am

When reading your post, it really connected with me because of the similarities with me. I know this is many years ago but I would like to see if you are in a better situation now. And if you are, please tell how you finally left. I am so fed up with my verbally abusive alcoholic husband and need to find the strength somehow to leave. Nothing has worked for me so far and I keep coming back because I feel bad for him. I hope you are well.

October, 26 2014 at 7:44 am

I've recently separated from my husband of 6 years. He began physically and verbally abusing me before we ever married, but I suppose I chose to ignore it and focused on all of our good times. He abused me when we argued and so in my mind when we weren't arguing everything was fine. I hid it from everyone for the past 6-7 years and would lie to family and friends when questioned about bruises. I guess I really convinced myself that everything was ok, but over the past year I've felt myself falling out of love with him. He stopped apologizing when he would do it, and though he could stop for months on end he always did it again. He even stopped showing me that he loved me when we weren't fighting. I begged him to change, to get help. Told him we were heading to divorce but he acted as though he didn't have a clue what I was talking about. Finally, two months ago I told him that I was done and asked him to leave. He didn't want to but finally agreed to after blowing up at me in front of our two children. After he left he would come over and bully me into letting him come home, yell, curse me, but he hasn't laid a hand on me. He has started therapy too and I was thinking that it doesn't seem to be helping much. However, The last few times he has been over to see the kids he has been calm and accepting. It makes me wonder if he's changing. I'm so lonely. I'm afraid that I will go back to him because of loneliness and out of hopes that he's changing.I'm so confused and not even sure that I love him. I've been catching myself minimizing what he's done and only remembering our good times, kind of like I did when he abused me. I don't know what to do. I'm hurting and afraid.

October, 17 2014 at 8:18 pm

I cant financially do it on my own. he knows that. he drinks, and is narcissitic, cruel, manipulative, and nasty. Has been physical many times through the decade we have been together. I have left a few times, but ended up back there, only because the place i was staying got sold. he always has his door open for me, for I am the only one left tht tolerates, his drunk, torrets talking ass. some people say i love him. Maybe in a way....but I dont really love me, thanks to him. He has a very negative, derogatory ora. bad energy. maybe one day I will get me back.

September, 21 2014 at 6:36 am

The reason I stayed as long I did was because threatened to kill me if left.
He had abused me in the past I knew what he was capable of.
I knew IN FACT he WOULD KILL ME. I had three young children, I did not want them to be motherless.
In my mind at the time, I had to weigh the odds. Stay in this horrible. loveless, relationship. Or let him kill me.
The choice was obvious.
My kids needed at least one good, loving parent, and I wanted to live.
But, I tell you what, if on one of those domestic violence calls to the police, if they had pulled me aside and offered me and my children a place of refuge, I would have jumped at the chance.
Many victims of abuse don't speak up because they know if their abuser finds out, more abuse is coming.
The abuser WILL NOT STAY AT HOME LIKE A GOOD BOY! I feel this is a misconception most unexperienced people have.
Abusers are dangerous people. Many women feel they are very, very alone and have to play the abuser's game.
The abuser DOES NOT CARE ABOUT THE LAW. I knew an order of protection would only drive him to be MORE DETRIMNED to violate said order to HURT ME and/or kill me!
There needs to more options to seek safety and more understanding of ALL the dynamics of these relationships before the victims are judged so harshly.

September, 16 2014 at 6:52 am

I have been in an abusive relationship for over 11 years. Second marriage, blended family - always moving because nothing was good enough. I'm amazed at myself that I left four times over the last year and half - but couldn't stay gone. I've been in therapy, he's been in therapy, we've been in therapy....he's walked out on 4 different ones. I've spent time off and on with a wonderful therapist I've had since my first divorce (the last 15 years) and one thing she's been saying that finally resonated with me "You will reach a point where you are able to disconnect because the feelings of distain/despair and a need to feel sane again takes over all power he's ever had over you". Truer words have never been spoken. I still doubt my decision to divorce during this time where I'm getting all my ducks in a row...especially when he goes days/weeks in the 'sweet cycle', but the bottom line is that I'm willing to admit to myself that I'M NOT HAPPY and nothing I do will ever be able to change the situation. I feel awful 'playing the game' while I'm getting my ducks in a row, but I have saved several things I continue to read over and over to remind me I'm in survivor mode. In my mind I have justified my abuse because others where in much worse situations....bottom line I MATTER just as much as anyone else suffering from emotional, verbal or physical abuse. I'm scared, I'm sad and overwhelmed by this upcoming change BUT I've reached the point where there is no alternative because my eyes are open, my mind is clear and my feelings are largely about resentment for everything I've lost during this relationship. I'm focused on a safe and sane future and hope everyone going through a part of their life as a victim finds the strength to get out.

August, 30 2014 at 12:32 am

I've been married 8 years. It's my second and his third marriage. My husband makes me do all the work while he controls the money. I make more money than he does but he tells the kids and everyone how he supports me. I have 2 adult kids and he is hot and cold towards them. We have 2 youngs kids together and he is a terrible parent to them as well. He either gives in to exactly what they want or goes off on a ridiculous non-stop verbal tirade on them. Again hot and cold. We have two foster children and he is overly permissive and generous with them. He isn't comfortable enough with them to attack their souls like he does to me and my kids. I don't think he'll go that route with the foster kids because they are heavily monitored by social services and older.
Money is a weird dynamic. I pay all the bills and I am the only one who knows how to access on-line banking, but he makes the decisions. Even though we make good money I am left struggling to pay his personal over indulgences though I get blamed for anything I have spent like a bottle of wine and cake for a celebration. It's those purchases that put is in 'the poor house' not his $92,000 truck or endless gadgets and electronics.
Last week marked the 2 year anniversary of my son's near-fatal car accident. His survival is a miracle as said by all medical professionals. It is an emotional day for me and my counselor said to make it a day of celebration and turn the sadness in to a positive. I made 3 cakes, one for my work, one for my son to take home and one for the house to have my kids over. Firstly my husband made a stink that if my oldest daughter was here he wouldn't be because she was bitchy towards him (funny her using a tone on him is so bad but the shit he tells me is deserved). But he changed his mind and of course was here. I just told him do what you have to do.
Then I got bitched at for 'all that I have to do around here I took time out to make these three cakes'. Then I got bitched out about the cost of these 3 cakes and a bottle of wine. My husband even said to my son that he should be bringing the stuff over because it is his life we are celebrating. He is trying to push my older kids away from me. He pushes it off like my young kids need me and I am too busy catering to my older kids. They are ALL my kids but he has a big distinctio between the two groups.
My youngest son had a fever. I was using my older son's Tylenol for the younger one - just handing the dose. The age on the bottle states 6 and up, but 50-70 pounds takes 2 pills and I was giving my 40 pound son 1 pill crushed in a drink. Doctor says weight not age matters on that. My husband first called me at work screaming where is the f%&$#" Tylenol and called me a bad mom for not getting back to him immediately. I was working. I can't drop in front of a customer to deal with his tirades.
His latest is to state how lazy I am. I single handedly painted and did flooring into son's bedroom and hung a 32 inch TV. I am not done cleaning out there old
room but I get told I do nothing. When I point out what I do actually do it is minimized as nothing or I get told snotty 'with all I do here do you actually want me to do that too?'
I told him that I save my energy for important stuff like taking our boys to their events and watching them learn how to swim etc. he gets mad a me for calling him a bad dad.
And oh yes my time is greatly monitored by this gem of a human being. He can go out golfing for 8 hours but he gets nasty if my girls supper runs past 3 hours.
He's got me more trapped because he will say the foster kids need one of us he all the time therefore me leaving and doing things with our boys is curtailed too.
Maybe I am lazy. I don't want to leave my house (was mine before him) and he has rigged it so I can't afford it on my own. I am scared to lose my boys 50/50 because he will fight for that. He thinks he is awesome dad but he isn't. Courts don't look at abuse over parental rights. Sometime I gamble with the thought if I left and didn't argue over 50/50 - if he saw it wasn't a way to control me he would lose interest like he did with his other children from his other marriages - but those were 'just girls' and these are his boys. So big gamble there.
And of course this treat of a man is a raging alcoholic. He thinks he isn't because he just drinks beer and doesn't drink on days he works.
Every story he tells comes around to how good he is and how everybody loves him. I used to feel sorry for him but now he just embarasses and disgusts me. I find him childish and stupid. There is the odd moment we have fun but mostly everything inside me is dead for him. I don't try to jump through his hoops anymore because I see the manipulation in even his compliments.
I have surgery coming up and I wish I could
just stay somewhere else for my recovery. It is on my foot then when I heal I need to go back for the second. While I am in constant pain I get ridiculed or compared to his pain how I complain and he should be worse. I have had surgery with my husband before. When dating he brought me flowers and took care of me. The surgery after marriage he took one night off work and left me caring for a 3 and a one year old alone after abdominal surgery. I was carrying the baby. And when I experienced complications it was my son that drove me to the hospital and cared for the kids while I was checked over.
I love my work. I love my life-long friends. I love and am proud of my kids. Sometimes I wish my husband would just succumb to his alcoholism and I would have peace. He constantly talks his crap. He repeats himself over and over and over. Loud constant flapping.
So many good things in my life but this one albatross around my neck really sucks.

August, 19 2014 at 11:01 pm

I am scared to leave because I have no family and a one year old son. My bf and I rushed moved in together for married within the same year. We were so in love! Was my fairly tale ending. But he's been verbally abusing me for 6 months and it's getting worse. I'm trying to fix things and say I'm sorry. I'm quiet when he yells at me because I haven't cleaned something. He yells because I don't have a job and talks crap to me when he starts a fight so I go to get a job and the next day he says oh babe you don't have to work that's why you have a husband.. Well I have no friends, he says I can go but I know it will start a fight. He's gotten mad when I've left the house and was at the wrong addressed gas station "I'm new in his city" which he drove to so he could check up on me. (I was selling something) I don't work so I use all my time for my son and his daughter that he has part time & cleaning! He cleans also but if I even spill something I get yelled at. I tell myself it's going to be so hard to move out because my son only knows him.(he met my son at 2 months) I would have to find a homeless shelter and possibly be around druggies. I don't want that life for my son. I had 100.00$ saved back but spent it last week because I started to feel comfortable again. I have nothing and no one. He doesn't even like for me to text or be on fb. I took all the guys off unless family and don't ever text anyone only 3 people occasionally. I'm totally isolated! I don't want to be a bad parent and take my son away from him and his family, but I cry all the time and I'm the only one who's been trying to work on things. I'm getting no where. It's a circle. He's mean he's nice.. I wait everyday to see what mood he's in. I'm nice even if he's mean to me. My birthday and my sons birthday he didn't care about. My birthday he was yelling threatening me all because I was crying just wanting his attention on my special day. I believe I'm being verb abused and threatened but he's supports me financially and he tells me that I don't have it that bad! I have no one to talk to I'm needing some help. Do I pick up and go to a homeless shelter? Or stay here and try to get a job? ( which he stops me & kinda gets mad when I tell him I want to work or he tells me he doesn't need me to help with bills) he always says he sorry later that he knows he's wrong but never has he tried to change it.. I feel like crazy I have no self esteem and I have a baby with no financial help. Would you say I'm in a bad situation? He doesn't want conseling or church. I've asked many times. I've talked til I'm blue in the face or he starts another fight. He's mean to me for 2/3 says at a time if I mess up... What's a young person to do? I only want what's best for me and my son. I love my husband so very much I want it to work without leaving but I don't think it's going to chage

July, 20 2014 at 7:37 pm

I'm a number 2. I used to be a number 1 but a couple of years ago I figured out what is going on. My counselor mentioned the book "the Verbally Abusive Relationship" by Patricia Evans. It changed my life.
I don't want to leave mainly because I've been divorced once and the process is nasty. I don't want to go through the pain for the next year or so that I will have to endure.
I have some coping mechanisms and don't buy her BS about me being lazy or not being responsible like her blah blah blah or whatever it is at the moment.
The thing that drives me crazy though is after she does this, she's happy and acts as if nothing happened, while I stew on it for hours and sometimes even days. It seems it's all I can think about sometimes.
But, I stay. Number 2 I guess.

tiffany horton
July, 15 2014 at 5:01 pm

I have been husband for 10 yrs and married not even for one yr yet. I have 2 children previous and 2 children with him.. he is an alcoholic verbally menatlly and physically abusive. Sometime he switches wording around to make me feel like things are my fault.I have to second guess my self because I feel or think like im going crazy.. its insane and I should be in a nut house. When he drinks he starts pointing out all my negative aspects. Says I barely do things for my children but when I go to night school.get home at 9 he will wait to I get home to feed the kids and tell me we are all hungary make us dinner. By this time I am exhausted from working all day and then going to school, which by the way is only 2 days out of the week. If I dont make him something to eat he I don't love him or care about him and pretty much throws a toddler tantrum. My oldest daughter all the time to leave him and that she hates him his own son has apit in his face (he was 4 at the time) because he was being physically abusive. Our children tell him that they hate him and call him names. I dont instagate the kids by the way I do get after them and tell them that thats not nice daddy loves you and they reply no he doesnt hes mean we hate him. It breaks my heart. He has been arrested a few time for domestic. I am not afraid to leave but I am afraid with four kids not being able to make it on my own and I have no place to go if I do leave. Living in a shelter is not an option I will not do thing with my husband is that he admits hes an alcoholic and tells me thats his problem no one elses I always reply that we r a family so its all of our problem it effects everybody in the house and his actions do too. I just dont know what to do I am so lost. I do have love for him but find myself sleeping alone more often. I dont like having sex with him anymore. When I dont he gets mad and starts destroying stuff so I feel pressured to just give it up just to keep the peace. On more then 10 occasions I found myself praying asking god to have him hurry and finish so he wont be touching me anymore. He steals my money, buys beer instead of milk for the kids cause he says it hurts.too much to much to go more than 3 days without drinking. There is so much more I just would like some advice please

tiffany horton
July, 15 2014 at 5:00 pm

I have been husband for 10 yrs and married not even for one yr yet. I have 2 children previous and 2 children with him.. he is an alcoholic verbally menatlly and physically abusive. Sometime he switches wording around to make me feel like things are my fault.I have to second guess my self because I feel or think like im going crazy.. its insane and I should be in a nut house. When he drinks he starts pointing out all my negative aspects. Says I barely do things for my children but when I go to night school.get home at 9 he will wait to I get home to feed the kids and tell me we are all hungary make us dinner. By this time I am exhausted from working all day and then going to school, which by the way is only 2 days out of the week. If I dont make him something to eat he I don't love him or care about him and pretty much throws a toddler tantrum. My oldest daughter all the time to leave him and that she hates him his own son has apit in his face (he was 4 at the time) because he was being physically abusive. Our children tell him that they hate him and call him names. I dont instagate the kids by the way I do get after them and tell them that thats not nice daddy loves you and they reply no he doesnt hes mean we hate him. It breaks my heart. He has been arrested a few time for domestic. I am not afraid to leave but I am afraid with four kids not being able to make it on my own and I have no place to go if I do leave. Living in a shelter is not an option I will not do thing with my husband is that he admits hes an alcoholic and tells me thats his problem no one elses I always reply that we r a family so its all of our problem it effects everybody in the house and his actions do too. I just dont know what to do I am so lost. I do have love for him but find myself sleeping alone more often. I dont like having sex with him anymore. When I dont he gets mad and starts destoying stuff so I feel pressured to just give it up just to keep the peace. On more then 10 occasions I found myself praying asking god to have him hurry and finish so he wont be touching me anymore. He steals my money, buys beer instead of milk for the kids cause he says it hurts.too much to much to go more than 3 days without drinking. There is so much more I just would like some advice please

May, 13 2014 at 2:43 pm

I am w a man now I have been married for less than. Year he is abusive in so many ways he went apeshit when I gave my kids a cookie before dinner

April, 8 2014 at 5:55 pm

I have been living with my abuser for four years now. We have two children and I have a trucking company. When we first got together he had a trucking company but that fell apart. It has been a struggle. He recently convinced me to move to VA from NJ 8 and a half hours from all family and friends and support. We had been split up for a time. I stayed in a shelter for 58 days, through the holidays of 2012 with my two kids. I broke when it came to the final restraining order. He showed up with his family's support and I was there with one friend of mine and my attorney no family. I became weak and gave up. I did get my own apartment and was loosing weight, in total i lost 30lbs just from being away from the abuse. I looked for work but was not able to find any I got scared. My dad had passed in May of 2012 a month and a half after I had my son. I was still morning his loss. The counselor after the shelter told me I had to deal with the loss of my father and cousin, who had died in January of 2013 at the all to young age of 26, we were the same age. So I started other counseling and lost my strength to stay away when he told me he may have cancer. He has not gone for any further tests. He convinced me to to open a trucking company so we had income for our family. I had the money in the bank and went ahead with it. After that I moved back in with him and gave up my apartment. Then the mental and emotional abuse started again. He calls me terrible things, threatens my life, tells me how incompetent I am and that my college education was a waste. His favorite is to call me an ignorant cunt. Recently he has been kicking my desk, the one day he kicked my desk and pulled the chair out from under me after throwing some of the kids toys. Two nights ago was horrible. He started going off on his father who is staying with us and worked his way to me tell me that the house is full of incompetents' and that we are all useless, he ran around screaming and yelling awful things, he told us he was going to kill all of us. He said he had no problem digging a hole and shooting us all and burring us in the hole. We have a goat (bean) who lost his girls to the neighbors dog. Bean has become a porch goat/dog, and is head strong about staying there. Jxxx got mad at that and took out the shot gun and was pointing at him chasing him around. I was out with the chickens and my kids. I told the kids to stay Jxxx started kicking the goat to get him off the porch, I went to get him and while i was getting out of the porch area jeff told me he has three shells and he would have no problem digging a hole. I walked the goat up to the barn and Jxxx followed me he told me that if I don't listen to him and do everything he tells me when he tells me next time hes going to drag me out to the barn and slap the shit out of me. Eventually we were back in the house. I was in our bedroom folding laundry he came in demanding my phone. I refused it was off and charging he wanted to break it which he has done in the past. He told me that he should just punch me in the face and break my jaw. Things eventually calmed down then the next morning he took my car keys and refused to give them to me for about 4 hours. I finally said I was walking to the store and he gave them two me. Before I left I told him we were done. He promised to change to go to anger management etc... The rest of the day he spent convincing me that staying was the best option. I told him no sex. Monday morning I ended up in the bed with him and the kids because if they cry to much he starts to yell, he woke up and wanted sex, i told him no several times and he still stuck it in me. I feel guilty because I came. I don't know why I continue to stay. I have had many other relationships that were nothing like this and I know what I am going through is not normal and unhealthy for me and my children but I just cannot get the courage to leave, and I am so scared that its going to take physical battery to get me out and I don't want that to happen. I think I just keep hoping that he will change and it will be better but i know it wont happen. I also think i feel safer because then i know where he is and he cant hunt me down and kill me like he has threatened. I also know that my kids at least have their father because I fear he wont stay around to watch them grow up. He also drive my truck for the trucking company. I just don't know why I can not walk away and be happy again.

July, 15 2013 at 6:10 pm

I finally packed my kids in the car and took off...couldn't look back and didn't want to...however this the third time I have done this and I'm scares I will weaken and take the easy way out and head back go him..I just realized that my family is verbally abusive and always has been ..every time I seek their help ,like now , they criticize how my weak character is the reason he verbally abused me...not only that but my mom starts disregarding me and takes over the kids management ...just hoping to move on soon to my own place b4 I crackdown and go back to that guy again :(

June, 18 2013 at 2:45 am

i finally left.

June, 13 2013 at 3:43 am

I am just leaving an abusive relationship...currently separated and do not believe that we will get back together. My concern is my two sons, age 19 and 12. I see my oldest son taking on the traits of my husband in his relationships with girl friends and want desparately to provide help before it is to late. His girlfriend called me and told me that he constantly puts her down and talks to her as if she were a child. He refuses to apoligize for hurtful behavior, etc. I need to help stop the continuing pattern of abuse and am looking to find a counselor within the church or a private provider if possible. Please make some suggestions.

May, 24 2013 at 4:38 pm

Thank you for your response. As far as changed, it is like he walks around in silence because he says that he doesn't want to say anything that might "trigger" an argument. I thought that he sure must be miserable. I can't figure out how I am going to fall back in love with him. I am in such a miserable state of mind because I feel that this is a way of life. I KNOW that one day(probably soon), he will blow up. You can't just change after 27 years of verbal abuse and getting away with it. My heart says "go" but my being scared is getting in the way.

Stephanie R
May, 21 2013 at 6:21 pm

My husband and I have been married a little over 2 years. In March weseparated because I finally realized he was emotionally and verbally abusive. He would call me b&@ch, stupid, and idiot all of the time. He constantly put me down saying i was not doing enough and my career choice was stupid. i always felt worthless. 3 different times in the 2 years we were married he did lay his hands on me. Why I didn't leave then I don't know, but its one of my biggest regrets.
I made him move out in march. When he first moved out he was very angry and threatened to take the kids away from me and was being very mean. He has been going to therapy and has been diagnosed with some sort of personality disorder. I've been seeing changes in him and so he recently moved back last week. But I'm still on edge and not sure I'm doing the right thing of staying with him. I haven't gotten over the abuse and scared he will do it again once he becomes comfortable or stops going to therapy. Can people with personality disorders really change? Any input is greatly appreciated.

May, 21 2013 at 2:58 pm

Alcohol and abusive behavior are two separate issues. I have been a therapist for over 20 years, and the alcohol is simply reduces a persons inhibitions but it doesn't make them abusive which is a situation of power and control. I am reading a book by Patricia Evans right now, The Verbally abusive man, can he change, and it is the best book I have read so far the explains the abusive man. And how we fall into them and feeling bad for them, excusing their deplorable behavior. And why we think it is love, and that we love them.
I am in recovery over 30 years, and alcohol was never an excuse for any of my behaviors .
He says he has changed. But do his actions support his words???? Words are cheap.

May, 16 2013 at 3:20 pm

I fall under reason #3- I feel compelled to stay due to finances and I have been married for 27 years! Over the course of the years, I have learned to fight back. It's gotten me no where. I have stayed because of some sick and twisted reason I feel sorry for him. The last BIG thing he did to me was tell me that he had to think of other women when being intimate with me and he pulled a "fake " gun on me. I didn't know it was fake because in the dark and something cold against my head. Is there a way for me to start over? Also, do you think I should start over? I am sooo confused and It shouldn't be this hard to decide. He says that he's changed

Mercedes B
May, 14 2013 at 5:34 am

i have been married to my husband for 7 years, and when we got married i was earning more than him and he seemed fine with that saying that he is proud to be with an intelligent woman who studied, along the way that started to be a problem as i got another job and i was now earning double his salary, he beats me up continuously and i always leave and go back to my parents house then he somehow convinces me to come back to him, he has called me every name in the book that you can think of, every man that i talk to i sleep with in his eyes, two weeks back he verbally and emotionally abused me and i packed my stuff and left with my uncles and brothers there and he never uttered a word, then he called me and told me he is attending AA as he blames alcohol for his behaviour, i agreed to go back after a week of being at my parents house with my son, we went back on a thursday, the saturday he started drinking saying he is saying bye to alcohol, he beat me up so bad and my son (15) tried to help and he beat him up also, i opened a case against him for assault and he was charged for assault (GBH) but as he was in jail i moved out again, we went to court and i felt sorry for him and i dropped the charges, now he says, since i moved out he is going to sell the house and move to an apartment and i will never see a cent of that house ( married COP) his threat now is i should come back home or he will sell the house, and he is promising that he changed because he has seen that jail is not nice. i have lost all trust in him but i still love him. do you think it would be wise to go back to him? i am still treating wounds that he gave me with the beating, do you think him being in jail for 3 days would really change his ways? mine is worse because i am financially independent i am the one who is actually looking after him, why cant i let go?

May, 1 2013 at 9:37 pm

My 23 yr old sister is in a abusive relationship with a drug addict. She stays with him because he's always promising to quit but ends up back at it. He's very clingy, always thinks she is cheating, eavesdropping on phone calls. Doesn't let her talk to friends . My sister has a 10 month old with him. Just decent she tried running away and he tried beating her. My sister went to a neighbors..where we waited outside with a shotgun. Police were called but he was gone before they arrived. He somehow convinced her to go back. (I live 2hrs away). She went along with it and is planning on running away with the baby as soon as she can. She will be staying with me..I'm just worried he will remember where I live. I worry for her everyday!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
May, 7 2013 at 5:20 am

Yes, it can be dangerous to take in the victim of domestic violence. You could be calling the abuser's vengeance upon yourself and your household. It is very important that you have a safety plan even though you and your family are not the target of his abuse. Your sister also needs to develop a safety plan. The one I will link to in a minute is perfect for her, and I think it will give you some ideas as to how to protect yourself, too. The second link is for advice on how to help an abuse victim, which I think will also help you.
Safety Plan
How to Help An Abuse Victim

April, 20 2013 at 4:38 pm

I need help. I'm
Married for 23 years have kids oldest 23 youngest 14 my husband abuses me regularly. He tells he I'm good for nothing I'm lazy he says I can find a new wife and kids. I work part time as a nurse and he complains that I don't pick up all the extra shifts I could. My husband is a work a holic he has 2 jobs works 13 hour shifts everyday I'm told that I should cook his breakfast lunch and supper. Screw cleaning the house he says he don't Need that. I tell him I enjoy a tidy house so he yells at me tells me I'm good for nothing and go cook
Me dinner. I was abused many times even spit on I don't have friends I can talk to cuz I made sure no one ever comes around since I didn't want people saying what a dink he is etc. so I elected very early on in my marriage I would stay alone I didn't want the risk and embarrasent of people knowing what I put up with I just don't know what to do. I'm tired of being told I'm
Nothing and sick of walking on egg shells. I never know when he is going to blow a fuse that's another reason I stay alone. I remember a saying god only gives what u can handle. I can't handle more. I've thought of just taking lots if sleeping pills and never waking up but then I think if my kids just having a work a holic abusive dad in their life and think they need and deserve a mom. I'm so stuck. I don't think I need to leave. Why shouldn't he. ? I right now sleep in my daughters room to be away from him. I need advice

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
April, 27 2013 at 10:11 pm

You can call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255 if you continue thinking about suicide. Your children need you - I hope you don't seriously consider killing yourself, ever again. People need to know about your pain so they can help you! You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE or contact a mentor to talk to at Help With Domestic Abuse.

April, 12 2013 at 10:03 am

Since you have been through these things yourself, is it possible for me to chat with you about some other personal things (via email, one-on-one)instead of in the Blog?

April, 12 2013 at 10:03 am

Since you have been through these things yourself, is it possible for me to chat with you about some other personal things (via email, one-on-one)instead of in the Blog?

April, 12 2013 at 9:55 am

I've been married for over 20 years now...and it wasn't till about 6 or 7 months ago, that a family member of mine (that I haven't seen or spoken to, in years) helped me realize, I've been living in a vebally and emotionally abusive marraige. I'm like the #1 person on your list - I didn't realize I've been a victim. I've just felt that all our problems have been my fault. And, my husband see's it that way too...he actually tells me it's all my fault. That, he's the one trying to help and I'm not. And, it's my fault when he gets angry and blows-up. That I need to obey and respect him. (Sorry, I have so many questions for you) but I'll start out slow. So my question that my kids are all grown, and my husband and I are (revolving-door empty nesters) is there any hope for fixing and healing things? Do I stay, do I leave? My family member (knowing what she knows, and has seen) thinks I should leave the situation I'm in, that it's not healthy. Part of me wants to run and never look back...and other parts of me...just can't leave. I do have another question, (not sure how to phrase it, but I'll do my best)why when my husband feels he's "helping his family" to solve a problem or do something...that it always comes back and bites him in the butt - and he can never win? I've asked him to explain what he means by that, but he never does.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
April, 14 2013 at 10:47 am

Abusers typically feel everyone is out to get them and no good deed goes unpunished. It doesn't matter how grateful you are to them for their efforts, they still think you're not grateful enough. Part of the problem is that the abuser doesn't have any empathy for the person who has the "problem". When they try to "fix" the problem, it is rarely the right solution for the one needing help - however it IS the right solution for the abuser who needs to maintain his his/her image of being a great person. Abusers are self-serving, and that's why the feel like they're always getting bitten on the butt when others don't acknowledge their greatness.
The part of you that "just can't leave" is the part that believes what the abuser tells you or implies. Your husband implies that you'll never have it so good if you leave, you can't make it on your own, he'll keep all the money and leave you with nothing, you vowed to stay with him for life, ... anything that will make you question if leaving is really in your best interests.
I agree with your friend that leaving is ideal - but you can't do what you don't feel, no matter who tells you to do it. Well, unless it's your husband because he has a lot of control over what you think, say and do after so many years. I suggest a very long vacation or separation from your husband. Once you get out from under his daily spell, you'll see things more clearly. Is it possible for you and your friend to take a vacation together this spring or summer? Without your husbands? Getting away like this and devouring books on emotional and verbal abuse could leave you feeling like a new woman.

Vivian Holliday
December, 16 2012 at 5:18 pm

I have been married to Wayne for almost three years and we have a 2 year old. My husband is an alcoholic and verbally and mentally abused me increasingly during our marriage. He would shoot his guns off outside when he was mad at me and has beaten our pets. I was afraid of him and kept a gun hidden just in case. One night, he forced me into sodomy because he was so drunk and angry at me. I felt like I had deserved it, until one day I woke up and realized that what had happened to me was rape. I left him and filed for divorce and never felt happier. However, Wayne constantly texted me, trying to make me feel guilty and take him back, swearing that he would change. About a month later, one night he kept my son away from me and wouldn't let me see him. He told me names of people who would testify against me in court and say that I was a bad mother so that I wouldn't get custody. I have never been anything but a caring, loving, even overprotective mother, but his texts still rattled me. With my confidence shaken and my resolve gone, I decided to "give him another chance to prove himself" the next day, trying to convince myself that I've taught him a leason amd that he really would change. I was even stupid enough to "propose" to him in front of all of our mutual friends. Now we've been back together for a week. I told him that I wouldn't run again if he keeps his end of the deal- not drinking and not verbally abusing me. He has gotten drunk but hasn't been verbally abusive to me so far. My divorce will be final on Jan. 13 unless I file a dismissal. I'm terrified that things could go back to how they once were, if not soon then years down the road. I wish that I hadn't made such an emotional decision to take him back because now I'm starting to regret it. It makes me feel weak, vulnerable, and stupid that I took him back. My friends and family are appalled and are scared for me and my son. I do feel like I love Wayne and missed his good attributes when we were split, and I hate for my son to grow up with divorced parents. I'm very loyal and hate to break promises, and I hate feeling guilty or feeling like I'm causing someone pain. I am so confused. Do you think that there is any hope for him to change or should I run again?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
December, 17 2012 at 11:44 am

Vivian, you need to run and run fast. Your son will be so much better off with divorced parents than parents caught in the cycle of violence. Reread what you wrote. Would you want your mother living with a violent rapist?
He caused YOU pain. You have nothing to feel sorry for.

July, 18 2011 at 6:13 pm

When i was 18 years old i left my foster parents home , who treated me like a slave from the age of six . So i just wanted a family of my own for someone to love me for a change ,i met someone straight away he was all sweet to me so when he asked me to marry him i said yes and was married at just nineteen, that is when it all started the verbal abuse and the beatings, for over a year i thought this was how a marriage should be the hitting with a fire poker the strangling he even used to throw me against the walls of the house , till one day he was arrested for steeling a car and was sent to prison, then everyone said i should not put up with the abuse i managed to get out of that relationship. NO WOMAN SHOULD HAVE TO ENDURE ABUSE .

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 7 2019 at 8:20 pm

Every relationship I pick I am always abused and I get blamed as the problem idk why I stay

July, 5 2011 at 6:54 am

Hi, Kellie, I just found your blog a couple weeks ago, just after I woke up to the fact that my husband has been verbally abusing myself and my kids for our whole marriage. I am at the point of deciding to stay or to separate - he is now "promising" he will do whatever it takes for us to stay together, but I do not think it will last very long. I feel like I should be separating, but I guess I'm scared to - I was just discussing this with my therapist this morning. She said I need to start putting myself first for a while, and see how it goes. It's so hard - I have my older children telling me to leave, my youngest is terrified of him, and my 16 year old is wondering why I'm feeling this way now - if it's too late. I am hoping my husband will change. He is seeing a therapist, but I don't think his therapist truly understands the problem, and therefore probably will not help. Can he change? I feel like I should give him a chance, but my therapist is warning me that thinking that is thinking of him rather than thinking of what's best for myself.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
July, 5 2011 at 2:46 pm

My ex promised me a lot of changes too when he was deployed. He said when he came home, our marriage would be his priority. He was home 6 weeks before he put his hands on me and I left. Every abuser is different. Some abusers, like a regular reader named Todd, decide they want to change and work hard to do so. Some abusers, like my ex, ultimately say "I like who I am!" and will not change. Ever.
I cannot tell you which type of man you're dealing with in your marriage. He did go to therapy, and that's a good sign. Try to let go of whether or not his therapist understands the problem or not. That doesn't really matter to you. Besides, he may go through therapy and get his abusive behaviors under control (all good for him), but you could decide you cannot trust him or that you do not love him anymore. You may decide to leave him even though he "gets better".
What matters to you is similar to what your therapist said, "What can you do for yourself to find some peace TODAY?" What if you went to a hotel in town, with or without your children but definitely without HIM for Friday and Saturday night? By Sunday morning, would you feel at peace? Or would it take longer for you to relax and accept that he's not going to interrupt you for awhile?
Maybe that suggestion wouldn't work for you, but it is time to explore what would be good for you, independent of what you think would be good for him. What would your best friend wish for you? Your mom? Ask them, get some ideas, then try something different.
You don't have to decide to leave or to stay today. You can take some time to decide. In the meantime, write out your exit strategies and safety plan.
Perhaps your husband will be like mine and suddenly "crack" under the pressure. Be prepared; it's better to have a plan for what you will do if he reverts to abuse than to be stuck there taking it.

June, 17 2011 at 8:55 am

steve, you will know. When the misery of staying outweighs the fear of leaving. I have been there, I know. Keep educating yourself!

June, 17 2011 at 6:11 am

One step forward and two steps back, or vice versa? That is what my therapist and I discussed last week. I am pralyzed by the difference in knowing what I 'should' do like you wrote about, and my codependent dysfunctional reality of not leaving. I can not bring myself to open an account. I could not sign the lease for the apartment. She gives me crumbs by buying me things or giving me a little positive attention and I go back into my little codependent controlled cave.
Right now I disgust myself. I tell her I do not want us to buy expensive new stuff and she does it anyway. Then she expects me to be happy about it with her. I am justifying her behavior and not valuing my feelings enough. She will not change, but I am not leaving like I want to. I guess I do not value my own life enough yet? When will I put a stop to it and be free?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
July, 5 2011 at 2:58 pm

You know, Steve, one thing you can do from a cave is observe the world outside. What if you stepped back and watched your reactions to her abuse for awhile without judging yourself to be "small" or "controlled" or whatever word you think you're being? Right now it sounds like you're internalizing her negativity about you. From inside the cave, you just may see that everything she says about you is what SHE is; you may find some of your power there in that cave. One day, you may find yourself saying, "Stop it!" when she gets going because you want to stop yourself from returning to the safety of your cave as much as you wish she would stop being abusive. Like PrincessLuceval said, you will reach a tipping point where your voice, your desires, cannot be silenced by her (or anyone else). You're on the right path; you're headed out of the cave.

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