Reason #6 Women Stay in Abusive Relationships

Reason #6 Women Stay in Abusive Relationships June 3, 2009


(Update: All the posts of this series have been collected into one piece, Seven Reasons Women Stay in Abusive Relationships, and How to Defeat Each One of Them.)

The sixth reason women too often continue in relationship with an abusive man is because they simply cannot believe that their man is as different from they as he apparently is when he’s abusive. A woman in an abusive relationship tends to think— to instinctively believe—that her man’s abusive behavior is, essentially, an act. She thinks it’s not part of who he really is.

She clings very tightly to the conviction that he’s so much better than that.

A woman whose man periodically abuses her looks into her own heart, and sees a loving, caring, gentle person who only wants what’s best for herself and those whom she loves. Then she looks at her man, and can’t help but think that his abusive behavior is some kind of foreign, freak aberration, a terrible, alien force that for some unfathomable reason sometimes comes over him, changes him, works its evil magic, and then disappears again.

“He just can’t be so different than me,” she thinks. “He’s a human, after all. And he loves. He loves his children. He loves me. I know he does. He shows me that, too. It’s just this … evil that comes over him. But that evil is not who he really is. It’s something he becomes. When it happens, it’s almost like he can’t help himself.”

She thinks, “Someday his demons will once and for all flee him. He’ll beat them. We’ll beat them. And then I’ll have the man I’ve always known my man really is.”

If you’re a woman in an abusive relationship who recognizes these thought patterns as your own, think this: Rabid Dog.

A rabid dog can be just as loving, cuddly and respectful as any other dog. But then, suddenly (and literally) he snaps, and goes crazy violent. Then he calms down again, and becomes just as sweet as can be. Until he has another attack.

An abusive man has psychological rabies. He has a disease. It’s a curable one—but it is a disease. And just like a person with rabies can’t get rid of them without going to a doctor and undertaking intense, painful, long-term medical therapy, so an abusive man can’t get rid of what turns him crazy without going to a trained mental health counselor, and undertaking intense, painful, long-term treatment.

An abusive man needs immediate, serious, outside help from someone qualified to give it to him. On his own, he’s no more likely to “recover” from his disease than a mad dog is likely to spontaneously heal. That’s just not going to happen.

You need to get out of that relationship, and he needs to get help. Period. Either that, or you can stay in your abusive relationship, and keep telling yourself that the man who hits you isn’t really a man who hits you.

Please pass this post along to anyone whom you think it might help or encourage.

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  • I love the comparison of an abusive man to a rabid dog, it is an excellent one. I have a friend who was in an abusive relationship for about a year. This series has helped me understand her better. Fortunately she got out of it before it was too late. Thanks for all of your great posts!

  • I've heard a woman lament, "what do I believe? What he says when he's loving or when he's angry?"

    Replying "both" seems confusing- but you hit the nail on the head with the rabid dog analogy. If a man becomes someone else when he's angry, he HAS to learn to control his anger, or his family is NOT safe with him. Period.

    There are some things you can't take back, can't ask for a second chance over unless there is SERIOUS intervention- mistreating your family is one of them.

  • Thank you, very timely, very apt and very needed

  • Yep, rabid dog. A fantastic analogy.

  • Yuki Noekimi

    I have a mom who is married to a man who is not physically abusive, but mentally abusive. My mom and my dad can be at peace and seem so loving and get along fine, then one day my dad just snaps and reacts to something my mom says. I listen to their conversations (not intentionally, they yell and I can hear them from upstairs) and everything my mom says doesn't sound at all like what my dad thinks she's saying. My mom can't even have an "adult conversation" with him without him taking it wrong. Can someone tell me if the same thing is happening to my parents as the descriptions in this section says. I mean he's not physical at all. My mom has to tell my dad that she loves him 20 times every day and he still thinks that she hates him. I don't know why.

  • Jeanine Petty

    Thank you for this insightful post, John….and @Yuki….this was a point I was going to make after reading this blog. The absolute insane torture of psychological abuse. You know that it's really, really bad, when you start realizing you would prefer to have the living daylights beat out of you for a good 5 or 10 mintues of the day rather than endure the psychological/verbal/emotional abuse that is doled out 24 hours a day, every day- and that, by, even when he is being "good"- it simply confuses you and puts you in fear of what's coming next. It is nothing short of torment.

    Thank God for removing me from it…..or, should I say, He removed him-from this life- and now I am left with the guilt of feeling relieved that is over. Pretty bad.