What can I make of staying with abusive people so long?


@Teasel The reasons that people stay are really complex. I have had some horrible relationships in my life, but they didn't start that way. Sometimes the decline is so slow you just find yourself "there" and no clear cut path for a way out. Take this time to reflect on what it was that you needed and they provided that made you vulnerable. For me, I was just so starved for love and affection, my ex picked up on that and played upon that vulnerability to control and diminish me. However, don't beat yourself up for doing something you weren't even aware of at the time. Take the time to learn about yourself, what you need, what you want and then seek relationships based upon a clear set of expectations and boundaries. It doesn't happen overnight as we cannot go back, but you can go forward taking what you learned from the past to make the future better.


I learned a helluva lot about myself over the years, by breaking down why I married my exHusband, and why I stayed with him, when that choice was still about me (rather than protecting my kid).

It’s not a politically correct sort of introspection/retrospect? As it can come close to victim blaming (or f*ck “close”, and straight be up used to beat myself up with, and or attempt to blame myself for the evils others do).

So I had to be careful about how I went about it, and which rabbit holes I tumbled down, when, and for how long. It was an ongoing project that lasted several years.

One of the most startling things to me? Was that my exHusband was PERFECT for me, exactly what I NEEDED in my life… at the time. Not at all what I wanted, or what was good -much less best- for me, but very very much what I needed. In no small part? To repair a lot of the damage done to me prior. He played a very crucial role in unf*cking my life. In many ways. I can’t be grateful for that, although I once was; he lost all good feelings from me the moment he went after my child. And he earned my enemity -many times over- in the years that followed. But I can still recognize the good. It was real. It happened. As did a helluva lot of no good very bad stuff, and a lot of new damage. There were, undoubtedly, better ways to go about getting myself right, again. I didn’t choose those ways, or those people, however. I chose him.

But? Whilst not politically correct to look at my part in choosing him, and choosing to stay with him? Nothing but nothing has been more useful to me in dealing with my DV stuff.

And don’t get me wrong, whilst that was the most useful? There were a helluva lotta other things that both helped, and that I’d be worse off, without. It wasn’t the only wind I tacked into. Calm seas make bad sailors.

Deleted member 50877

These questions can be answered only by yourself. For many people, abuse feels familiar due to their past.. and what feels familiar feels safe. What's not familiar, feels unsafe. Also, as other suggest - there is a function within it, so it is difficult to leave any relationships if you do not have any replacement.

Grieving? Maybe.. but above all, treating yourself kindly.. the you that is making this realization now and also the past you that stayed for so long.


Because abusers need someone to abuse. They suck you in and hold you where they can do their thing.

You have PTSD. Your understanding of whats going on is impaired. It's hard to see the patterns. You likely realized what was really going on after it ended.

I feel the same as I am realizing my boss at my last job was very abusive. I feel very taken advantage of in so many ways from that experience.
In my case I went through my entire past with a fine-toothed comb in therapy about why I stayed, and about why I thought what happened to me wasn't abuse when it clearly was. It turns out that I had no way of NOT staying based on various things that had happened to me and things I had learned before my abuse, the major effects of which were self-hatred and zero self esteem (along with some similar stuff related to my gender).

Nobody ever needs to do this, to examine your life down to the tiniest detail. But I'm glad I did, because now I understand everything about why I did the things I did.


It turns out that I had no way of NOT staying based on various things that had happened to me and things I had learned before my abuse, the major effects of which
The first trauma therapist I had, that I really dug in and worked with, laughed at me when I was all affronted/insulted/infuriated with myself about the man I’d chosen to marry.

We’d just run through the overview of my timeline up until my marriage when I decided to get all WTFO??? about my marriage.


“With that trauma history, who did you THINK you’d marry?!? Of COURSE you married an asshole.”

“But nearly everyone else I even f*cked casually, much less dated, we’re amazing people.”

“Yeah. But you didn’t marry THEM did you?”

(heaves sigh & glares) “Fair point, well made. Can we move on now?”


Now, I actually know quite a few people -with my trauma history- who married very very well. As does he, to find out. But he just had a WAY of making his point, distilling complicated things into clear/concise/simple ways I could process, in a way that landed just right. I miss the hell outta him. I’ve seen a few great trauma therapists, now, but his sense of humor & timing, was unparalleled.

Tornadic Thoughts

In my earlier days, I stayed because I didn't feel I had any way out. My family wasn't supportive, most of the "friends" I had were on a similar downward spiral, or were mutual friends of the abusers, even law enforcement wasn't helpful when they were called after I had the shit beat out of me and the windshield of my truck was busted out - after having a gun upside my head - etc. etc., and I felt if I could just hang in there a little longer, things would eventually take a turn for the better and end up being alright, especially if they loved me as much as they said they did when they apologized for almost killing me - what a f'n joke. That never worked out, as things always intensified and got worse, almost to the point of my death on multiple occasions.

What helped me was being seen and recognized by an acquaintance who lived close to the place I worked at the time. She had just lost her dad to suicide and came to purchase some smokes the afternoon after she found him. We had a long heart to heart talk and she told me to visit whenever I wanted.

Our friendship grew and she helped me learn that I was worth so much more than what I was allowing myself to be subjected to. I finally gathered the strength it took to leave the abuser I was living with at the time and she and her mom let me stay with them until I found my own space. We are still good friends and I'm still eternally grateful. Had it not been for meeting and connecting with her, I'm not sure I'd be here today.


I, too had those awful friends. I finally realized that I was trying to "win" in the situation. If I could repair the one relationship i.e. the friend, I might be able to heal the family relationship. When I think back on one friend, she was incredibly abusive and I stuck around for YEARS! WTF?!? Towards the very end I just wanted to stand up for myself with her and I did. Now it's totally over for me. She is a sad, messed up woman who can't seem to exercise any real compassion for anyone and demands that she gets whatever it is she wants from the relationship.

Tornadic Thoughts

I didn't finish my post yesterday, @Teasel . Apologies.

Even after learning how to better value myself, I still attracted abusive partners and situations. I even married one. A Vietnam vet who was 20 years older than me, but who woo'd me like no other before him. I was convinced he was the love of my life. He treated me so kindly and compassionately, treated my family like his own, was a biker dude who had the respect of his biker family, and helped in the community every chance he got.

However, once we were married, the emotional and verbal abuse began, big time. Only when we were alone, though. He drank heavily and that's when it got real ugly. He never laid his hands on me (except a few times during nightmares he suffered from), and I think my brain was convinced that the emotional and verbal abuse wasn't really abuse because, at least he wasn't beating my ass or holding a gun to my head like the others had done.

He began having an affair and that was the deciding moment when I paid a visit to the lawyer for a divorce, moved my stuff into storage, and got the heck out of there. I later learned he hadn't been paying the bills, either, which were in my name, but he'd been the one managing the accounts. Another hard learned lesson. His biker family shunned and shamed him big time after learning of what all had taken place. I later learned the lady he had an affair with started dating someone from a rival biker group and they put him out of his own house. Funny how life flows, ay?

I also encountered several super manipulative/abusive co-workers and bosses through the years. We're pretty much surrounded by potential and active abusers, in my opinion. It's unfortunate, but seems to be the state of the world. Or maybe it's just my personal view of it based on my direct experiences. Either way, I'm grateful to not have to be immersed in the peopley parts of life, overall, as deeply as I once was - most days. Having the life I do now is still a struggle at times, regardless, but compared to past experiences, I'll take this version for sure.