Why Stay In An Abusive Relationship?

Because being someone’s everything is intoxicating stuff;

We use doctor Google for everything! Need to check your flu symptoms – Google, what is that rash? Google, where did I come from? Google, relationship advice – Google, does my headache mean I’ve got 48 hours left to live? Google, what’s the best sex toy shop in the world – Google!

We Google everything! And how ironic that this blog is probably also on Google! But please be careful not to jump to conclusions based on a list, they are a good tool for a range of reasons but not the be all and end all of life.

Why Do People Stay In Abusive Relationships?

I myself have googled countless times as to why the flop I stayed in an abusive and controlling relationship, and how that relates to my intimate relationships. Do you know what no matter how deep I’ve gone into Google, I mean in the depths of the black hole that is the Internet and have not found the answers I was looking for?

Why would anyone stay in a relationship with someone who puts him or her down, controls him or her and possibly even physically abuses him or her? Why would anyone hold down 2 jobs to keep the rent paid, food on the table, bills paid, all while their partner stays home all day with the wrong company, and goes out at night leaving you home alone. Why would someone allow themselves to be emotionally blackmailed by threats if they try to leave or try to stop the things that are hurting them?

There are no easy answers, and truth is you may never know exactly why you stayed, it is often a tangled and consuming web of complicated reasons and answers. You keep wondering to yourself why an earth you stayed with someone who kept hurting you, who kept promising you the world only to fall through every time. Someone who promised to do better, someone who kept breaking your heart but then would tell you they loved you.

Pinocchio's long nose
Image: Pinocchio

It was only last night at our Christmas party that I thought about what I was going to write about this week while drinking a vodka coke and eating popcorn at a pub in Haymarket, thinking to myself wow I haven’t been out in about 3 years! I also had another thought that controlling relationships are kind of like popcorn… popcorn is sweet but savoury, coated in butter and salt, chocolate or whatever you can think of; but every so often the kernel doesn’t puff out to a fluffy piece of popped corn.

Sometimes it is only half popped and still has a hard kernel that hurts your teeth when you bite into it, sometimes it hasn’t popped at all and when you grab a handful of fluffy popcorn a un-popped kernel hurts you- but you keep going back for more! Much like a controlling and abusive relationship, you keep going back because of those fluffy good mouth watering times that make you forget about all the bad ones.

So many people asked me why I stayed in such a horrible relationship, so many people told me to leave and get out each and every time they saw my body covered in bruises, cigarette burns and cut marks. The look I got from my friends when I received a phone call while I was out with them and they could hear him screaming at me over the phone. All I could do was put my head down and stay quiet. I can’t explain to you why he had such a control on me or why I let it happen, I can’t tell you why I was so scared to leave other then I thought I would get hurt more leaving rather than just staying.

Boyfriend relationship advice
Image: Relationship help from girlfriends

What It Feels Like To Leave An Abusive Relationship

What I can tell you is when I decided I could leave it was the best and most difficult decision I had ever made. It was like this clamp on my chest had been released and I could finally breathe by myself again, the day I actually left was exactly how I thought it would be. Screaming, yelling, non-stop phone calls and even him parking his car out the front of my parents place yelling out to me, saying he was sorry, saying he wanted to marry me, telling me things would change; he would change.

How His Abusive Behaviour Impacted Me

For a long time I would play down how bad things really were, I would make excuses for his abusive and domestic violent behaviour, give myself reasons why I should stay and give him another chance. At the start I would tell him exactly where I was going or what I was doing, in the end I just wouldn’t go out because going out with friends or to TAFE meant 1000 phone calls and abusive messages, to the point where even going home caused problems because he couldn’t control what I was doing or who I was talking to.

Man apologising to girlfriend
Image: Boyfriend apologising to girlfriend

It wasn’t always like this. He was charming, attentive, thoughtful and caring at the start. When we watched movies together he would hold me or play with my hair, we had barbeques at his, he would always smile at me no matter who was there, he would message me good morning and good night and ask me how my day was going. At the start arguments were over jealously, to be honest it was kind of sweet because I thought wow he really is interested in me! Turns out that was just the beginning of the control.

After a while I felt like I didn’t deserve anyone better and that he was the best I was going to get. I didn’t grow up in that environment so I can’t blame it on what I had grown up with, I can’t blame it on my parents or my schooling, I have no idea why I thought this behaviour was ok. This was my first serious relationship, this was my first relationship that had lasted longer than 2 months, maybe because a year previous to this I had been assaulted by an unknown man who thought it was ok to do so, or maybe because I had always been under confident. I did always agree in theory that women deserve to be treated well, with respect, love and care. I have always been submissive, and I’d rather apologise than cause a fight, I do everything for everyone and normally that means I get taken advantage of.

I kept thinking to myself if I do the right thing he will love me, if I look skinny he will want me and that if I do as I’m told he will love me. Truth is no one can make someone change unless they want to change; no one can make someone be something unless they want it and no one can make someone love them unless they want to. When I stepped back and thought about all the reasons why I thought maybe it was because I was more afraid of being alone than in a painful relationship, maybe just having someone to talk to and cuddle up to at night was better than being alone.

I Know That I DO Deserve Better

I have tried oh so hard to not fall into that kind of relationship again but truth is it’s hard! I constantly second guess myself, and allow certain behaviours for the fear of a fight. I don’t know if it’s because of my experiences and that my confidence has grown or that I am just learning but I have started to speak up for myself and know that I DO deserve better! I deserve to be comfortable with him and not fear him or flinch when someone comes to close to me, I deserve to be loved and be open with my life and experiences and I deserve respect. Intimacy is built on trust and respect and without that how can we grow and explore and experience all the good things in life.

We can’t be afraid;

Morgan x

Semi-colon mental health meaning
Image: Semi-colon Period

Author: Morgan is a consultant from Oh Zone Adult Lifestyle Centres

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