why she stays

“He won’t lay a finger on you,
He won’t wreck your pretty face.
But he’ll tell you that you’re worthless
Just to put you in your place.”
Little Big Town, Evangeline

They said you can’t truly understand something until it happens to you.

They were right.

When I was young, I remember hearing a story from a friend about a woman and a man who started fighting in the car in front of my friend. The woman ran from the car and the man followed, brutally beating her and a passerby who tried to help, in front of dozens of people staring in shock.

Certainly after that she would leave him, wouldn’t she?

Only a few months later, we spotted the same woman – with the same man – in line together at a local restaurant. I asked myself for years following why she would stay. She was an idiot. She knew better. It was an obvious choice. He had done it once, and he would do it again. She was an idiot.

Now I understand.

Let me be clear – this man never laid a hand on me. But there are forms of domestic abuse other than physical abuse.

“You’re a stupid bitch”.

“You’re nothing but a slut”.

“You’re a piece of trash, you’re worthless”.

These incidences escalated to the point where one night I sat sobbing in front of a restaurant full of people. A table of girls behind me told me that I was too beautiful to put up with being spoken to like that, and that I should leave.

So why didn’t I leave?

With every low there is a high. With every fight, there is a morning full of tearful apologies and promises that it will never happen again. And for a while, everything is perfect. Until it happens again.

And again, and again, and again.

Not until everything was over for good, and I was left alone, did I realize what I had put up for far too long. It was as if I was brainwashed, broken to the point where I believed it was my fault and that I deserved the abuse. Somehow I believed that if I changed, that if I could only be better for him, it would stop. But it never did.

I truly believe everything happens for a reason. This experience has opened my eyes to millions of women in this world who endure and accept physical and emotional abuse. So often society judges these women so harshly when they choose to stay, but not everyone understands why. Until a woman completely realizes what she is experiencing in her relationship is wrong and is in no way, shape, or form true love, she will stay. And you cannot judge her for that.

You may not know why she stays, but I do.

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111 thoughts on “why she stays

  1. I can also relate to this story…. I dated a man who at first was so loving and gave me the world… But eventually that came at a cost. The first time he hit me I was shocked…. Could not believe he did that. The next day he said he was sorry… So I was forgiving. Trust me when I tell you I should have walked away when I could. As time went on abuse got worse.. Physically and mentally. I got pregnant and he seemed so excited until there month’s in he beat me so bad that I lost the baby….. Due to his drug use and alcohol the next morning he had no memory of what he did. Monday morning I was schedule to have a D&C. For a little while things were ok he seemed very sympathetic… Until one night I made him so mad he beat me for hour’s,,, I walked around for days feeling like I had a broken shoulder,, I went to the Er and found out he had broken my neck.
    I just had a second surgery and I have no use of my right hand. I have had to move several times, but I must say there is light at the end of the tunnel because I am with a man who treats me like gold, and we are getting married this year.

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  2. This really hit home for me I was in a relationship were I was physically and emotionally abused and I stayed for 2 years I know I needed to leave but I couldn’t every time I wanted to he would beat me but a man named Daniel showed up like a night in shining armer and saved me if it wasn’t for him I would probably be dead by being beat to death but Daniel saved my life and I can never repay him for that but in less then a month I will be marrying the man who saved my life and stole my heart

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  3. I cried when I read this article…because what you wrote describes my life for the past 12 years.

    I told my husband that I felt like a tree and that every time he verbally, emotionally, and mentally abused me it was like he was chopping away at me with an ax. I told him he could apologize each time but it would not repair the tree and that one day the tree would die.

    I left him about 6 weeks ago. On Friday night he came home in a foul mood. He followed me around the house yelling at me, criticizing my every move and my every word. He was telling me I was worthless, my job didn’t matter, I do nothing for him, I was a whore, a bitch, I didn’t deserve to get his paycheck each week, and that I was sleeping around. Then he wanted sex. He would not give me his paycheck to pay bills if I didn’t have sex with him. I woke up Saturday morning to him standing over me yelling all the same things that I went to sleep hearing. I finally asked him to please leave and go visit his family or whatever he normally does on Saturdays. He did. He returned several hours later in the same mood. He laid on the couch and continued his tirade as I sat there folding clothes.

    Finally, after 12 years of putting up with this treatment I decided I couldn’t live like this anymore. When he called me an idiot and then a f###ing b##ch every feeling in my body shut down. I calmly put away the folded clothes and went into the bedroom to gather my toiletries and some clothes. When I walked into the living room to go out the front door carrying my things, he jumped up with a terrified look on his face and he began apologizing profusely and begging me to stay. He blocked the front door for a few minutes. Then he followed me across the driveway and to my car. I put my things in the car and got in. He held on to the door for a while and I was begging him to let go so I could leave. I went to my parents’ house and have been here for about 6 weeks. I have gone through many emotions…relief, sense of freedom, sadness, happiness, frightened, sense of failure, alone, hope…

    I am healing. I must stay strong because he calls me constantly telling me he is a changed man and I need to come back. I must be strong.

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  4. My best friend is in an abusive relationship right now, and has been for 15 years. It has been a slow transition into full-blown abuse, but it really started in the beginning. They have 4 children together and they have endured so much in their short lives. She has left many times, only to return later. He had been in and out of mental facilities due to bipolar disorder that for years he used as a crutch, but now claims he doesn’t have at all! He has had many infidelities, but always accuses her of being unfaithful. This is his game, she is the pawn. For years we have all tried and begged her to leave, but she loved him. I’ve been fearful that one day, I’d receive a call from her family telling me that she was dead! She has left so many times, only to return, that this last time seemed no different. However, HE now has a girlfriend and she filed for divorce. This hasn’t stopped the tears on her end, and the questions of why?! He continues to live there, won’t leave, but continues to manipulate her and dictate when and when not to do something while he parades the other woman in her face. He tells this woman he loves her, and never was in love with his wife in the whole 15 years they were together. And yet, my friend still loves him! She wants to know what SHE did wrong?! She wants to warn the other woman. The woman who openly runs around with this still married man…. the woman who certainly will become his next victim! I say, he is no longer her problem. He threatens my friend saying “don’t you ruin this for me” all while he manipulates her saying if she ruins it, he won’t be amicable. I pray she stays strong this time, but have so many doubts…..

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  5. I’m 22 years old and have been with my boyfriend for four years. We live together. Sometimes my boyfriend is a wonderful guy and I feel lucky that I have him but other times he throws up things I’ve told him from my past to hurt me and tells me what a bitch I am and how I don’t do anything even though I work every single day of the week. He counts the calories I eat and teases me about my weight when I only weigh 135. I’m not supposed to expect affection either. I’m made to feel like an aggravation if I ask for a hug. It has gotten physical a time or two as well. I know I should leave but I don’t know if I ever will. But knowing I’m not alone in this situation helps. I used to tell my friends about it but they don’t understand so I just keep quiet now.

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    1. You sound so much like myself. I was 21 and in a relationship for 4 years. I had known my boyfriend my whole life, I was best friends with his sister all through primary school right up to grade 12 graduation. In the beginning everything was amazing. I still remember the first time he laid a hand on me, but I just blew it off like it was no big deal. We were together almost a year and then moved in together. The last 3 years were pure hell. He was good to me when we were around people but as soon as we were home I could say the least little thing and he was mad. Sometime he would try and smother me with a pillow, hang me out over steps, pushing me in the bathtub, and when he was drinking it was worst. And then in the morning he wouldn’t remember and blame me for lying. Finally I went to me friends house for a little while but went back. But a family friends son started messaging me on facebook, I had no intention of what happened to happen. But he told me so many things that I didn’t deserve how I was being treated and that I was beautiful. He said so many nice things to me. He lived I hours away and before I knew it I got my mom to kick my boyfriend out because everytime I tried he’d beat me. The next couple days the one I had been talking to told me he was coming to see me the next day. I picked him up at the bus stop the next day brought him to me house and he hasn’t left yet. He treats me great. He makes me feel like I’m special. He is simply amazing. I have him to thank because I would have never left the other if it wasn’t for him giving me the courage. 2 years ago he came into my life and I wouldn’t change a thing. Don’t be scared to leave. I was scared to leave because he was my comfort zone, even though he was cruel it felt better than having to get used to someone new, or so I thought. Leave. Because there is always someone out there who will treat you the way you deserve to be rated.

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  6. I grew up with 3 sisters and my mom I had to see my drunk ex-marine of a father woop on my mother she thought it was all her fault which is complete shit at 6yrs old I stood between them in a fight it stopped the act and my mother will never forget that maybe that’s why I’m a favorite lol. This is the first time I have ever wrote on a page like this or even talked about it to friends or fam. Im sharing now on Facebook because this touched a cord with me. my dad has been sober for 25 yrs now and is doing great married to a dean of a college. Don’t get me wrong I love him to death but my mother will always be my one true love n It’s affected me in so many ways. I don’t know what tru love is except what my mom gives me I’m 31 now (must add I don’t abuse women anymore I’m guilty of hurting many in my younger yrs But I don’t know how to love I’m introverted and very secretive. There’s a very long story just hope someone reads this and realizes get out now it just gets worse with every attack. My mom was no saint but for any man to hurt a female especially emotionally is the worst. I don’t know how to love without trust n I don’t trust anyone. Am I fucked for life? Thanks if you read all this please respond I may never open up like this again

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  7. So many times you probably want to leave. Staying takes courage – but I truly think it takes more courage to leave.

    I stayed way too long – and I finally found happiness “outside”. I know that wasn’t right – a series of events took place and I left. I didn’t lie about anything to anyone.

    Everyone’s story is different. Everyone deserves to be happy – even the significant other.

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  8. Physical/Mental Abuse for 2 years. Yes, I thought some of it was my fault.I should of done this or shouldn’t have said that. I believed him everytime he said he wouldn’t do it again. NEVER thought it would happen to me! Hardest thing was leaving & staying gone! Would not be here today if I had stayed. That was over 20 years ago.

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  9. This speaks to me on so many levels. I’m only seventeen and I have spent almost three years in an emotionally abusive relationship. I had dated my best friend (we’d been inseparable since we were 5) and after he left me for not having sex with him, I tried to date another guy. He manipulated me into thinking I would hurt this guy. This caused me to cheat with him, because I thought I could trust him. It quickly turned into sexual abuse as well, followed by even more emotional abuse. He told me I was a worthless whore and that everyone hates me. He manipulated me into pushing everyone away and thinking I deserved everything he did because I was terrible. This continued from my freshman year of high school, until about three months ago, finishing up my junior year. I finally saw what he was doing to me and have cut him off completely. I’m with someone who treats me good now and I’m finally happy. It wasn’t easy to cut him off but I was blessed with support from my friends and family. I’m glad I finally saw what he was doing to me and left, or else it could have escalated much further.

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  10. He had problems with anger and would get the point where he would hit himself in the face and blacken his eyes. I knew he was most likely bipolar and after every time he would blow up and treat me poorly, it would blow over and he would apologize. I don’t know how many times I tried to get him to see a doctor. At first he admitted there were problems that we could get help for and agreed to see someone, but he held off and eventually started telling me I was the one with the issues that drove him to behave that way. It gradually got more and more violent and I can’t explain how, but its almost like in all of it I lost the sense of what was real. I legitimately couldn’t trust myself anymore whether I had said or done something wrong to have provoked him.

    The worst part of it was, we were living together in an apartment with another couple as roommates, and I know they heard it.I I know the neighbors heard it, but no one ever said anything and that made me feel like the situation wasn’t wrong and I deserved it. Out of everything, though, the one thing that I remember that hurt the worst was after he’d blown up. He screamed and called me stupid and worthless, and I remember thinking I would rather he just hit me than say that. I can’t remember exactly what I said, only this feeling that honestly made me feel like I was actually dying, but I think I tried to tell him that I wasn’t. The most painful thing I have ever experience in my life was that he instantly became very calm, looked at me in the face, and said, “But you are.”

    Eventually it got to a point that I knew one day he would end up killing me. That one day he would just push or hit me a little too hard and that would be it. Surely enough that day came and after one of his anger episodes, I turned to walk away from him and he reached for a glass jar off of my desk to hit me in the back of the head with while my back was turned. My friend bought me a bus ticket and I left the next day.

    I’ve now been on my own for six months and I genuinely did not ever think I could be as happy as I am presently. For those who call women in abusive situations stupid for not leaving, I heard that same word out of his mouth. I am not stupid. I am not worthless. I am a very intelligent person who now directs my own Fine Arts programs for children. The only weakness I had before was the guilt I felt to try to help someone who would not make the effort to change, and as far astray as it led me, my empathetic qualities and desire to help are my best qualities. The only difference is that now when it comes to showing compassion, I include myself as well.

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  11. I know about the physical and mental abuse all to well. And no one knows what it’s like until it happens to them, I always said I’d never let a man hit me, boy was I wrong!!

    My first abusive relationship was when I was around 18-19..he beat on me all the time, for no good reason what so ever, and I stuck around, and like they all say it got worse, he beat me for three days straight with hit me a few times with a crowbar. Ended up with a broken leg and a lot of damage and bruises.

    My second abusive relationship was the father of my child. Never worked, never helped with the baby, never helped clean…I did it all! I got talked to like a dog and smacked around on for finally getting sick of being talked down to. So after four years I cheated on him! No I shouldn’t have, but it was the best decision I ever made! Best guy I’ve ever met, totally not what I usually go for, but he’s the best thing that ever happened to me, we were seperated for a bit, my baby’s father broke my jaws, fractured my orbit and a couple of other things i dont remember, i dont remember a lot about that one. After I healed up I came back home to find him, and I did and where still together. I know its bad to say, but some good things do come from bad things 🙂

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  12. I was in a relationship for three years. I mainly stayed, because I got pregnant early into it. My ex was the guy I thought I was looking for, someone assertive with a sweet side. He quickly turned to be more than that. There were several times he slapped me in the face, dragged me across the ground, all while pregnant. He apologized and it didn’t happened again for the next year. I should’ve left then, but I was 21, scared, and pregnant. I was ashamed I had let all this happen to me, because I had always been so grounded. We had moved away and we moved back to Augusta and that is when he changed. He started hiding money, texting random girls, disappearing for hours. He was in car sales, so his hours were different. I didn’t think of it at the time, but working late wasn’t very unheard of. I worked out of town and while I was gone for a week, instead of picking up our child every night, he left her with my parents every night. He went out with friends and kept going to Twin Peaks and getting random girls numbers. I figured out he took one of them to dinner in my car he was driving. I got back in town and he said it was nothing and it wouldn’t happen again. He ended up buying a pretty red car with my tax return in the same week I caught him cheating on me with a Hooters girl when I got back in town with friends. He tried to make it like it was all my fault, like every other time I had let stuff like this slide. If I tried harder, if I did more, if I worked out harder, if I got surgery. It was never good enough. All I ever did was try to make him happy. I worked a full time job, I’m a full time student, I was a housewife and a mother, and I did everything I could possibly manage to do that I thought would please him. It hurt me that no matter how hard I tried and drove myself into the ground, I never measured up to this unobtainable image he had of me. I told him I was done for good and that I was going to leave. He didn’t want me to move home with my parents and proceeded to slam me against a wall and choke me until I swore I wouldn’t move home. I knew there was no going back to that. The man I had once known was gone. I always wondered why I never followed my own advice, as a pretty strong minded woman. I know why you don’t leave, but I will never put myself through the humilation and pain I have been through the last three years of my life. I hope for my daughter’s sake that he one day disappears and that she won’t have to grow up in that environment. He doesn’t have much to do with her or any of his other children, so I think I have no worries. Luckily for me, I think I found that one real love through an old, dear friend of mine. He couldn’t have come at a better time for us to heal our hearts and show my daughter the love and compassion needed to survive in this world.

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  13. Thanks for sharing. Some people with never understand this. I personally even walked away and had been away for months but for some reason am back. Mine isn’t as tough but it is the same shadiness over and over. This is a good read for all woman to attempt to understand that love will make you fight though all the bad to get more of those good moments because regardless of how bad there still is good to everything

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