Why Does She Stay?
Why do you choose to stay with him?
This is one of the most feared questions that those living in an abusive relationship can hear. Why is that? Two reasons: 1) the question itself implies that she is doing something irrational or stupid… so it implies that they are, as a person, irrational or stupid… or both; 2) she may not be able to articulate an answer that makes the questioner even begin to understand. Both reasons leave the recipient of abuse feeling foolish and stupid. And this is exactly what her partner has been doing to her non-stop for the past several years.
What is the real answer… the deep in her gut and from the depths of her soul answer? Because she loves her children, she is devoted to her man and still hopes he might change… and she fears being out on the street with her children… or worse, without her children, with no home, no income, no assets, and no support.
She often sees only two possible futures… stay in the relationship or be on the street, possibly alone.
She often stays because she is desperately fears ending up on the street. She also desperately dreads staying in the relationship and putting up with the constant degradation and destruction of her soul.
Desperation… that is why she stays… it is the dread that she knows rather than the dread that she fears will happen. The real, the now is known. The other possibility… the one involving leaving, the unknown future is also feared, but even more so because it could involve homelessness, loss of her children, and possibly even the loss of her life if she leaves.
So she stays… miserable, fearful, and desperate… and enduring the questions of her friends and family while she does.
When I first meet these people (most are women, some are men) they are often in a daze. They or their spouse has filed for divorce and they feel utterly, completely, totally helpless. They feel like they are being swept along in a court process that won’t hear them or understand them. They are resigned to the process and numbly go along with what they are told to do, because they know no other option… no other choice. If it is a women, she is 100% convinced that the other parent is going to be able to successfully prove to the court she is weak, unfit, emotionally unstable and not able to care for the kids alone and that he needs to be close at hand (via joint legal and physical custody) to protect the children.
Often times… quite often, actually, her friends, her family, and even her attorney does not believe her story and tend to think her partner’s assessment of her and her mental and emotional state is correct.
At all times, she feels alone… to the depths of her soul, she feels alone. No one knows what really goes on behind closed doors. No one understands the constant, the incessant words and actions that destroy her soul. No one believes her. No one.