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7 Reasons Why Women Stay in Abusive Relationships

Last Updated on 2 years by Iva Ursano

I certainly stayed way longer than I should have. I probably should have turned on my heels at the 3rd month, the first time he lied. But I didn’t. I stuck around for almost 8 more years after that. It’s hard for the average person to understand why women stay in abusive relationships.

I’m going to explain it as best I can in this article.

If you have other reasons why you stayed with your abusive partner, please leave them in the comments below. We all have our reasons. I am sharing my 7 with you.

Why women stay in abusive relationships?

I used to wonder all the time why women stayed in abusive relationships until I was stuck in one. For almost 8 years. As we all know and have experienced, once the honeymoon phase is over, the true person shows up.

8 years of lies, bullying, emotional abuse, financial abuse and verbal abuse. 8 years of living in an abusive relationship.

8 years of second guessing, mistrust, walking on eggshells. It was pure torture but leaving abusive relationships isn’t as easy as people think though. I honestly didn’t realize I was in an abusive situation until much later on in the relationship.

I’ll give him some credit though.

In all honesty, I can’t say it was all that bad. I mean, I did stay for 8 years so there had to be some good in all that, no? Sure, there was some good. I didn’t want for anything, really. He had his very caring and loving moments.

He also had his fun and funny moments. We had some good times. There were trips and parties and other fun times.

But….I definitely should have left many times during the 8 years we were together. Many many times. So why didn’t I? Why did I stay for as long as I did?

(this post contains affiliate links so if you make a purchase I make a small commission-affiliate disclosure)

Signs of abusive relationships

So many of us are in these types of relationships and aren’t even aware we are being abused. It isn’t just physical abuse and sexual abuse. There is also:

  • mental
  • verbal
  • emotional
  • psychological
  • financial

…and a few others! So why do women stay in abusive relationships? Sometimes we don’t even realize we’re being abused. has this amazing article on the 21 Warning Signs of an Emotionally Abusive Relationship. 

Take a minute to have a read. It clearly lays out what to watch for. Also, keep in mind abusive relationships aren’t just with your partners/spouses. They can include family members, co-workers, or neighbours. Pay attention.

Though physical and sexual abuse are two extreme types, emotional/mental and verbal do just as much damage. It’s hard to heal from being tormented mentally for years. Words cause a lot of damage. Trust me on that one.

Being a victim of abuse

Why we stay in toxic relationships

I could probably give you a million reasons why we stay in these unhealthy relationships. I’m gonna break down my 5 reasons for staying but here are just a few more that many other women/men have shared with me (and yes, men too are victims of toxic relationships)

  • fear that no one else will want us
  • fear for our lives
  • we think things will get better
  • we think things aren’t so bad and others have it worse
  • we have no money or nowhere to go
  • fear of taking the leap and starting our lives over again

Let’s face it, starting over is scary and exhausting. It’s also frustrating and time-consuming. We have to learn new things. We have to heal our wounded hearts and souls. We have to retrain our brains into believing that we are worthy of more.

There’s so much work that goes into it but it’s ALL so worth it!!

Why I stayed in my abusive relationship

Here are my top 7 reasons why I stayed. I look back now and wish I had left sooner but then again I think about everything I learned about myself and this toxic relationship, all the life lessons, and how it made me so much stronger.

I wouldn’t be where or who I am today without going through all this. I’m not saying you should stay longer and keep going through this. Oh hell no. All I’m saying is that instead of beating yourself up for being in this abusive relationship longer than you should have, take the lesson and grow from them.

You are stronger than you think.

1 I’m scared

I’ve been here so long now, with him taking care of me and telling me what to do and how to do it and when to do it, how will I ever manage on my own? Where will I go? How can I possibly leave him? Was being scared a good reason to stay?

At the time it was for me. Though leaving this unhealthy relationship is hard to do, being scared of the alternative keeps us there….besides….

I can’t do this without him.

2 Being single makes me sad

Loneliness sucks. Dating is bull. I don’t want to have to go through that whole dating thing all over again. I can put up with all his crap just so as to not be alone again. He’s not all that bad is he? Besides…

I can’t do this without him.

3 How do I live alone?

I’ve never lived alone. Ever. I know that sounds ridiculous but honest to God. I’ve never lived alone and I really wasn’t sure if I knew how. The thought of it freaked me out. I don’t want to live alone. I don’t know how.

We settle for abusive relationships because being alone sounds scary as heck and….Besides….

I can’t do this without him.

4 I don’t know how to do things.

For real. How do I plan a day or a weekend or cut veggies or set the table? Do I know how to plant a flower? Of course not. I don’t know how to do much of anything these days. The thought of having to learn how to do any of these things kinda makes me feel awkward. Besides….

I can’t do this without him.

5 I have nothing

Not a single solitary thing. I have the clothes on my back and my crazy little canary (he’s dead now though RIP). I have no job, no money, no self esteem, no self worth, no self confidence. I got nothing. Not a single solitary thing.

What  am I supposed to do and where the hell am I supposed to go? Besides…

I can’t do this without him.

…or, can I?

6 He’ll get better

I know he will. If he sees how much he hurts me, he’ll eventually stop being so abusive and will start loving me and appreciating more and even treating me better.

And I know that one day this will be and can be a healthy relationship.

If I just hold on one more day. I know he’ll change.

7 It’s not that bad

I mean, I’ve heard of some women who have gone through way worse than I have. This abuse isn’t that bad. He does have some good qualities. I’d be stupid to leave.

We have a nice house, 2 cars and all the bells, whistles and luxuries any girl could want. Why would I leave that? He’s not entirely horrible every day. He has his good moments. I’m just acting like a spoiled and unappreciative princess now.

Do any of these reasons look familiar to you? Did you just nod your head? You totally get it, I know.

More people need to read this and it will help them understand why women stay in abusive relationships. It’s just not that simple to leave.

Digging deep and finding bravery, courage, strength and determination to leave my unhealthy relationship

Can I? Can I just pack what little stuff I have and start a whole new life all by myself? Me and my bird and my low self worth? Can I pull up my big girl panties, hold my head high, and walk out the door with confidence?

Well, one day I snapped. It happened. I had had enough. The breaking point finally came. It didn’t matter anymore that I had nothing. It didn’t matter that I was scared out of my tree. It didn’t matter that I had no clue what I was doing.

All that mattered, at that exact moment, was that I was done. I was so done. It was just time to leave this abusive relationship no matter how hard it was going to be.

All that mattered was that regardless of how scared I was, my happiness was lost and it was time to get it back.

All that mattered was that regardless of the fact that I was just a shell of a woman with no clue what the future held, I was ready and willing to find out.

All that mattered was that it was time for me to find joy, happiness, love, peace and freedom.

Leaving an abusive relationship is scary af!

Every ounce of me was screaming at me to *please leave*. Just go. Get out now. If not now, when? What are you waiting for? Get out. Girl it is time to leave this toxic relationship. Capiche?

…and I proceeded to write my *Dear John* letter.

…and I left

…and I found joy and peace and happiness and freedom and love, self love to be exact.

…and I haven’t looked back.

Are you staying longer than you should? Are reasons for staying the same as mine? You might like this post about knowing when to end a relationship.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Ending a Relationship

How can I get out of an abusive relationship?

As I mentioned earlier, it’s not as easy as people would like to think. We hear all too often “well just leave!”. You have to be in that situation to understand how terrifying, crippling and hard it is to do. If we could just pack up and go we would have done it a long time ago.

I get asked this question by a lot of people. How can I get out of an abusive relationship??

I’ll be honest, I had no plan. All I had was faith that things would work out for me and determination to get my life back. I prayed an awful lot and cried even more.

But if I were to give you any advice I would say to make the decision that you are going to do it and act on it. Don’t wait until next month or in 6 months or in 2 years. Something will always come up that will leave you stuck.

Fear will keep you there. You must face your fear and decide to leave…and then leave.

I found this amazing YouTube video on leaving an emotionally abusive relationship. I think you might really enjoy it! This woman nails it.

5 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Ending a Relationship

If someone you know is trapped in an abusive relationship please share this article with them. It just might save their life. Now that you know why women stay in abusive relationships, it might help you understand us a wee bit better.

If you need to seek professional help please reach out to one of the therapists over at 

Life after abusive relationships

Hard to imagine you can actually be happy and have inner peace and freedom and joy right? It was hard for me to believe that this kind of life even existed, but it does.

You have no idea what kind of life is waiting for you on the other side but trust me when I tell you it’s definitely way better than the hell you are living in now.

You deserve more than what you have been settling for.

If you need help leaving an abusive relationship please take a minute to check out Kim Saeed’s courses. She’s really amazing and her courses are powerful.

The Essential Break Free Boot Camp

I love you xo

Peace and Love


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  1. I totally get it Iva. It took me years but I finally did it. Made another mistake but learned from it. Now I am at peace and I have slain my demons.

    1. Hey Kathy good on you for slaying demons. I still have a few to slay but I will. I think we will spend the rest of our lives making wee *mistakes*. That’s how we learn and grow. Thanx for your comment and glad you enjoyed the blog.

      much love

  2. I’m in a similar situation, except he’s not my first and only man. At one time I knew how to live on my own. But since then, economy sucks, I’m now on disability, I have no car, I can’t qualify for my own apartment even, because u have to make 3 times the rent to get in. And on disability I don’t. Like u it’s been 8 years of my life, I’m now 54, I have been beaten down so depressed I no longer have friends or family, he has total control, and with no car he really has control. He’ll leave me here 12 hours a day alone, he does uber for a living so works when he wants, usually late afternoon into the mornings, sleeping all day. He promises me he’ll get on a day schedule, get up and work early so he can be home by 7 so we can have dinner, sex, life like normal 50 y/o people, but it never happens. As I’m writing this its 11:30 Monday morning, and he’s asleep. Again. He yells, blames, me for our lack of sex. I told him I’m not staying up till 2 am for someone who isn’t motivated to get up and get out at a reasonable time and come home to cook and eat dinner w me, just have sex. If that was so important then why wouldn’t he want to work day hours and actually have a normal life at night. So we fight. And fight. He isn’t making me happy so I’m not making him happy. I’m not making him happy(giving in) So he’s not. But I have no where to go, no money, no furniture, no family, no friends. What is the answer short of suicide.

    1. Hi Shelley I’m sorry to hear of your situation. There is no quick fix to this and suicide is definitely not the answer. I recommend reaching out to a support group or trying to find things to do that bring you joy. Take some time to find out what makes Shelley happy and what she wants.
      I’m no therapist or life coach but I know you don’t have to stay stuck in this misery forever. I have faith in you and wish you the happiness you deserve.

      much love

  3. Good for you to leave. Don’t be afraid. You can learn to live by yourself. Life is too short to suffer and depend on somebody. Every women should be independent. In my country, lots of women suffer like you but they cannot get out of their situation especially after they have children. They were locked in hell eternally.

    1. I am sorry to hear this Julie. I think too many women are so trapped. It’s sad. :(

      much love

  4. Great prose from a strong woman. Thank you for sharing. Good luck on your journey. You are so worth it.

    1. Thank you for your kind words Colleen. Glad you enjoyed the blog.

      much love

  5. I totally get now and realise that I’m not alone in the world that I wasn’t the only one going through the same thing after 26yrs a breakdown and nearing another I finally got the courage up and told him to leave he has completely destroyed my self-esteem self respect self confidence and so much more I’m struggling each and every day but I look at my 9 year old son and think I’m glad I’m not putting you through what your siblings have gone through

    1. Good for you Bronwyn!! So many of us stay. I hope your story and mine can inspire others to pack their shit and go!!!

      much love

  6. I get it. I understand. I stayed for 18 years. Yes, 18 years! When one has finally had enough, they know it. I felt it so deeply, that I too didn’t care. It was time to find happiness for myself and my 4 children. I am now a stronger woman because of it. I feel very empowered, and have no tolerance for bad behavior anymore. I have a truly amazing man who treats my kids as his very own. I think of my story as a great success.

    1. Yay!!!! I love your story Lisa. Good on you. :) :) :)

      much love

  7. Thank you so much! This is my story right now too! Best wishes and nothing but happiness to you! Glad I am not alone! ❤️

    1. Thank you for your comment Stacey and glad you enjoyed the blog. Hope for nothing but peace happiness and joy to you too!!

      much love

  8. Iyes.Ive been a victim of this circumstances for 24 yrs.but now i am finally free withis kind of relationship. thank you for making this page..very inspirationa..God blessl

    1. Good for you MaryJane!!! Thank you for your kind words. :)

      much love

  9. Been there, done that. First time marriage of 15 years to a narcissist Second time, 10 years lst r and following marriage and being widowed, I was involved in a long distance on and off relationship for 7 years with ANOTHER narcissist. Third time, 7 years after the end, seeing someone who told me they had loved me like they had never loved anyone else (we weren’t living together but he would spend nights and some weekends) to discover he was lying, lying, and cheating. Took me longer than I like to admit to admit to myself that he was NOT the man I thought he was. It’s been 4 years and I have finally stopped mourning the loss of the man I thought he was (but was just a figment or my imagination). First time I walked (actually drove away with nothing more than I could fit in the back of the car and $1000 I had squirreled away. Left my job, left my home, moved to another state and stayed with a friend for 1 month until I got a job. Second time, I had to get him out of the condo I had bought as a weekend home (he was renting it) and I diddle saddled because I was concerned about paying for 2 places, plus he owed me money. I finally decided I didn’t care. The money was not worth it, my mental health and stability were. Third time, I just didn’t want to believe I had fallen for another lying s.o.b., who could look me straight in the eye, seem sooo sincere, and be lying his ass off. Took me a couple of false starts, but the third time I gave him all of his clothes and told him I was done, and never let him know how often I looked back, with tears in my eyes, wondering what had happened to the wonderful man I thought I had fallen in love with. Gotta admit, I was 64 at the time and I really like my own company and not having to compromise about anything. I am very content by myself!

    1. Wow quite the journey for you! And yay for you for being happy with who you are now :)

      much love
      xo iva xo

  10. Hi Iva, I’ve recently took a first step by leaving the home we’ve bought together just yesterday. My then fiance was in a way, sexually assaulting me. He would penetrate me in my sleep, without my consent and since i take sleeping pills, I would only remember parts of it the next morning, like him being on top of me and “making love” to me. The first few times I was shocked, got mad and treathened to leave him if he ever did it again. He propably never took me seriously since it happened over 50 times. I don’t get why I stayed since I believe I am a strong woman, though I don’t feel that way now. Then it got to; not accepting the fact I didn’t want to have sex by begging and yelling and making me feel bad as well as bribing me into it. And i’m an idiot even thinking it was “normal” at one point, that that was just the way he is. Then last week, he did the worst. He was piss drunk and forced me into sex, which I didn’t want and which I made very clear. He pushed me on the couch, took my pants of and forced it into me. He even looked me in the eyes and said he didn’t give a fuck I was crying. The next day, he was back to being the sweetest and promised he would find help by going to therapy. Unfortunatly I had no more faith and couldn’t even look at him not to mention kiss him or sleep beside him. I’m going through so many emotions like did I do the right thing, why did I lie and tell him I loved him even though I haven’t in a while, would he truly change his ways, is he sincere, was I too harsh by leaving him?! Even after all he’s done, i still feel bad for hurting him by ending things…We have a house together and I hate the fact I have no choice but to deal with all the paper work of selling etc… its just too much :( Would really appreciate your advice <3

    1. Wow is all I can say. I can’t even believe him. So sad and pathetic and so much disrespect. Stay true to you, stay the course and leave his sorry ass behind. You are better off without that jerk :(

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