9 Reasons Why People Stay In Abusive Relationships

why people stay in abusive relationships

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Have you ever wondered why people remain in bad relationships instead of leaving and finding someone better?

Maybe you have a close friend or family member who is with a toxic partner, and you’ve advised them to leave on several occasions, but they keep giving you excuses why they can’t.

It can be difficult to understand why people stay in abusive relationships.

However, it’s important to know that leaving isn’t always an option for everyone for a variety of reasons.

Some of the most common reasons why people stay in toxic relationships include emotional attachment, fear of leaving, and financial dependence.

Victims of abuse often feel the need to stay in the relationship out of fear, guilt, love, and loyalty, even though they may be physically or emotionally harmed by their significant other.

In this article, we explore some common reasons why people stay in abusive relationships and how to help yourself or someone you care about find a way out.

why people stay in abusive relationships


Leaving an abusive relationship can be challenging because of many factors.

If you’re thinking of ending an unhealthy relationship or have a friend who is adamant to stay with a toxic partner, despite the harmful effects the abuse has on their well-being, you may find this article helpful.

Here are 9 reasons why people remain in an unhealthy relationship even when their lives are in danger:

1. Fear of leaving and breaking up

One of the most common reasons why people stay in toxic relationships is because of fear.

Fear can make someone feel paralyzed to take action, and that’s why it’s a powerful tactic abusive people use to control their partners.

Victims in toxic relationships are often afraid of the consequences of leaving, so they choose to stay because it feels safer even though in reality, it’s more dangerous to do so.

The abusive partner may have threatened to physically or economically harm them if they leave, which keeps them trapped in the relationship.

If someone chooses to remain with a toxic partner, they’re likely afraid of being hurt when they try to leave.

2. Financial dependence

For many people, the fear of financial insecurity can outweigh the fear of physical and emotional abuse.

Another reason why people stay in bad relationships is that they don’t have the means to provide for themselves and have to rely on their partner for welfare.

When individuals lack resources and access to other forms of support, they often choose to stay in uncomfortable conditions because their basic needs are being met.

If someone has become financially dependent on their abusive partner after years of living together, it can be hard to envision themselves being able to survive without them.

As a result, they stay in the relationship hoping the situation will get better.

Victims of abuse may also feel indebted to their partner and believe they owe them something such as caring for children together or making up for all the years they’ve been together.

The abuser may also threaten to take away their financial security by refusing to pay child support or denying them alimony after divorce as a form of power and control over their victims.

why people stay in abusive relationships

3. Emotional attachment to the abuser

Being in love and emotionally attached to someone can make it difficult to leave them even though they are abusive.

This attachment might have been built over several years, and in some cases, people may become dependent on their partners for emotional support.

Victims may also feel that they are in too deep and have nowhere to go, which can make them reluctant to leave.

If someone is refusing to leave an abusive relationship, it’s probably because they’re still in love with their significant other, despite the abuse.

Breaking away from a toxic relationship when you’re emotionally connected to your partner is one of the hardest things to do.

The mind knows it’s logical to leave, but the heart doesn’t want to deal with the pain of breakup, so the victim remains stuck in an unhealthy situation.

4. Fear of loneliness

Sometimes, victims of abuse may feel isolated and scared to leave a toxic relationship because they don’t know where to turn or how to make it on their own.

Staying with an abuser might seem preferable as leaving could make them feel alone and more vulnerable to danger.

In addition, people may stay in an abusive relationship because they are afraid of what will happen if they leave.

They may fear being alone, having nowhere to go or worry about how their family and friends might react.

Self-esteem issues can also make victims feel that they are unlovable and won’t be able to find a better partner who will love them the way they deserve.

5. Lack of self-confidence and low self-esteem 

You may wonder why someone would remain in an abusive relationship when it is obvious that it is damaging and unhealthy for them.

One of the main reasons why people stay in an abusive relationship is low self-esteem and lack of confidence.

Abuse can wear away at a person’s self-esteem and make victims question if they’re worthy of anything better than what they’re experiencing in their current relationship.

As a result, they’ll choose to stay with their abusive partner instead of reaching out for help.

When you are constantly belittled, manipulated, and put down, it can be difficult to build up your own esteem or to see yourself as a worthy person.

It’s often easier to succumb to the demands of an abuser and take the blame, rather than try to stand up for yourself and assert your own opinion.

Sadly, many people remain in toxic relationships because they are convinced that they are worthless and undeserving of healthy love.

why people stay in toxic relationships

6. Belief that the abusive partner will change

One of the biggest reasons why people stay in abusive relationships is because they believe their abuser will change and their relationship will eventually become healthier.

Abusers often prey on their victim’s emotions by convincing them that they are loved or that the abuse isn’t really happening.

The abuser’s empty words and fake promises can keep victims in an endless cycle while they wait in vain for their partner to change – often only worsening the abuse.

The issue of believing an abuser will change goes beyond the commonly held belief that love conquers all.

Even if people are in love, the reality is that abusers often do not accept responsibility for their actions or take accountability for their behavior.

They may try to pass off their actions as a one-time mistake or make promises to change that they ultimately do not keep.

Believing the abuser will eventually change is also sometimes motivated by fear of the unknown and is one of the major reasons why people stay in toxic relationships.

7. Social norms and expectations

Another reason why people stay in abusive relationships is because of societal norms and expectations.

Victims of abuse may feel ashamed to leave or fear judgment from family and friends.

Often, their abuser makes them feel like they are not worthy of better treatment, and that this is how relationships should be.

To make matters worse, many cultures have a strong emphasis on family values and marriage, making it so much harder for people to break away.

8. Family and cultural pressure

People who are in abusive relationships may stay because of family and cultural pressure.

In some cultures, victims may worry that they’ll let down their families by leaving the relationship.

Or, if they come from a larger family or are part of close-knit religious or cultural groups, the victim may fear being disowned or shunned for breaking tradition or going against the wishes of others.

Family members might also pressure victims to maintain the relationship, in an attempt to “keep up appearances” and avoid embarrassment.

If children are involved, this pressure can be even greater.

Some abusive partners will use threats to family members or children as a way to manipulate and trap their victims into staying in the relationship.

People need to know that you can love someone without staying with them if they are hurting you.

It is never okay for someone to abuse you physically, emotionally, or verbally — no matter how much pressure you feel from your family and culture to stay in the relationship.

why people stay in bad relationships

9. Lack of a support system

When someone is in an abusive relationship, they often feel isolated and disconnected from the people who care about them.

This lack of a support system makes it even more difficult to leave an abusive partner.

Those in abusive relationships may feel scared or ashamed to reach out to friends and family members, or they may not have anyone to turn to for help.

Their abuser may also be isolating them from those who could provide them with support.

Additionally, with societal taboos or stigma attached to domestic abuse, those affected by it may feel that talking about what’s happening in their relationship is too embarrassing and shameful.

They may fear being judged by others or being seen as weak if they admit that something is wrong in their relationship.

As a result, people often stay in abusive relationships rather than seek help from family and friends.

People need to speak up if they are in an abusive relationship, as this is the only way for them to get the help and support they need.

While friends and family members can be unreliable sources of support for those dealing with abuse, you can easily find support groups or non-profit organizations that are willing to help.


Leaving an abusive relationship can be one of the most difficult decisions to make.

But the reasons why victims of abuse stay with their abuser are often more complex than it seems.

Despite the high risks associated with abuse, victims are driven by a range of motivations, from fear of the consequences of leaving, to shame, guilt, and feelings of hopelessness.

It is important to remember that no one deserves abuse and that leaving an abusive relationship takes immense courage and strength.

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, it is important to reach out for help and support from people you trust or from organizations that specialize in providing assistance to victims of abuse.

With the help of a trusted person or licensed trauma therapist, it can be possible to find the courage and emotional strength to break away from the cycle of abuse.

Another important thing to know is that increasing self-esteem and building confidence is a major part of moving forward after being in an abusive relationship.

However, it requires hard work and dedication to build back up what was taken away by the abuser – but it is possible, with the right support system.

If you’re in a toxic relationship, don’t give up on yourself and keep fighting until you get the life you want.


Recommended Reading:

21 Obvious Signs Your Relationship Is Over

14 Things To Try Before Giving Up On A Relationship

How To Know When To Walk Away From A Relationship

About The Author

Jennifer Dagi

Jennifer Dagi is happily married to her best friend and the love of her life.

As a relationship coach, she is passionate about helping couples build healthy and happy relationships.

She strongly believes communication and intimacy are the most important ingredients for building a successful relationship.

Join her on a fabulous journey to improve your love life one step at a time and don't forget to subscribe for weekly blog updates.

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