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Lolli needs help.....and this could help you too
November 8, 2006
11:58 am
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lollipop3
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Hi everyone,

I am writing a paper for school (due next week) and could use some help with my research. I figured this would be a great place to get some insight and it would also enable some of you to look deeply and honestly at your own situations by anwering this question....

The paper is on Abusive Relationships and the question is.....Why do people stay in abusive relationships? (Even if you are not in a current abusive relationship but were in the past...what were your reasons for staying as long as you did?)

If you choose to participate, here are some examples of what I am looking for.....

Denial? Do you not believe that what you are experiencing is actually abuse? Do you feel your children are better off with 2 parents instead of 1? Do you feel that love can conquer all? Have you been isolated from others that can help you break through your denial?

Financial reasons? Do you believe you cannot support your children on your own? Do you make less money? Does he not allow you to have money?

Fear? If so fear of what? Are you afraid it will escalate the violence? Afraid of losing your children? Afraid of being alone or never finding love again?

If you have other reasons, feel free to share them. Just please be as honest as possible with your answers.

What I would like to do is to find what the most common reasons are and use that to further my research.

Thank you in advance to all those that participate and perhaps by doing so....it will give you some insight for yourself as to what your reasons are and how you can work on changing those thoughts.

Thanks again....

Lolli

November 8, 2006
12:03 pm
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mj
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Wow, Lolli, that sounds like an extremely interesting research paper. How are you planning to incorporate our sharings if we decide to participate?

November 8, 2006
12:28 pm
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lollipop3
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Hi MJ and thanks for your response,

There seems to be as many reasons why people stay as there are people in abusive relationships, so basically what I am trying to is to narrow down the reasons that people stay in abusive relationships.

I will not use any personal information, nor will I make any mention of this site whatsoever.

The more people that participate by giving their own reasons, the more I will be able to compare to find what the most common reasons are, which in turn will help me to narrow down the focus of my research.

I really want to express in my paper the REAL reasons why people stay. I think that will give others a better understanding of the psychology behind the abusive relationship as opposed to the common, mistaken belief that "she must like being abused".

November 8, 2006
12:31 pm
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Lollipop,
Until recently I did not realize/admit I was in an emotionally and occaisionally verbally abusive relationship. I stayed because I didn't realize how bad it had gotten. Sometimes it just creeps up on you slowly like weight over the years. When you are 20 you look and feel great. By the time you are 40 you have gained 20 pounds and never really saw it happening. Yeah you saw each pound come on, but there were always excuses. Some legitimate like you had a baby, and some not- like the old holiday 3 pounds that you would lose by summer and never did.
My husband admitting he was an alcoholic and copping to all the lies he told me made me realize it was not a normal or acceptable way to live.
So basically I stayed because I loved him and made excuses for behavior that snowballed into something very ugly for both of us. I stay now because we are both in recovery and owe it to our children to see if we can get back to a healthy relationship.
I hope this helps you.
Katie

November 8, 2006
12:33 pm
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sdesigns
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Hi Lolli: This topic will be hard one to cover in just a paper- volumes and volumes have been written about it, so good luck. Have you done thread searches on this topic? I know there's been a pile of threads on the topic since I've been here. WD in particular has written quite a bit about it.

SD

November 8, 2006
12:36 pm
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lollipop3
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Katie,

Yes, it does help....thank you so much.

I wish you the best of luck and hope things work out for you and your family.

Lolli

November 8, 2006
12:42 pm
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lollipop3
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Hi SD,

Yes, I know it's a tough one. The paper is to be 5 to 20 pages long. As I said, there are so many reasons that books upon books can be (and have been) written. That is exactly why I have asked here to gain some insight. I was hoping that by asking here I could narrow it down to perhaps 3 of the most common reasons. I was also hoping that by asking here, it would give others an opportunity to really look deep within themselves to discover the real reasons that they stay. Perhaps by doing so will help them as well.

And although my paper is on "why WE stay"....I will also touch on the question....instead of asking why we stay....shouldn't we be asking...."why don't they stop?"

November 8, 2006
1:01 pm
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When I have reread my journal entries from the past four years, I realize that I had problems with the way he acted right from the start - even six months into it, we were fighting all the time, I was angry and defensive all the time, with him and wrote several times that the relationship would not make it, that if he didn't shape up I would break up with him, and then...I didn't. I still haven't. I feel powerless. I would say, then, that for me, the reason I stay is because of the balance of power...somehow, my self-worth has become enmeshed with my ability to maintain this relationship, as completely unhealthy as it is. That, because he is admired and respected by our mutual friends and aquaintences, I will be seen as the pathetic one, the pitiful one, the one who screwed up, if I leave him. And, that he has done such a good job (or I have done it to myself) of making me feel like a failure, that I can't do anything right, that I am a socially inept mess and angry and defensive all the time so nobody likes me, that he is all that keeps me afloat. But, as someone else posted, it isn't all at once, it isn't all the time, overwhelming abuse....

it's the whole experiment in behavioral psychology, with the pigeons or chickens - they would get a pellet if they pecked a lever. Well, first, they always gave a pellet when the birds pecked the lever. Then, they stopped giving pellets systematically - some birds never got any more pellets, no matter how many times they hit the lever, and those birds soon gave up and never hit the lever again. Other birds were given a pellet erratically, sometimes after 3 pecks, 20 pecks, or 150 pecks on the lever. Those birds continued to peck the lever long after the other birds had given up, because they knew from experience there was a chance they might get a pellet - but that there was no real pattern they could identify, so they just kept trying.

I would get a pellet - a kind word, a touch, a smile, that made me think the relationship was real and deep and meaningful, not just to me, but to him as well. So I would keep pecking, trying to find out what it was that I was doing that got me the reward, and do it again. But it wasn't me, it was completely random and had no meaning.

I'm not sure I'm saying it clearly enough...or perhaps too clearly. (I am not a failure. People do like me.)

zax

November 8, 2006
1:13 pm
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lovinglife
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Hi Lolli~ Blessings on your paper...

Ok why did I stay? hmmmmmm...let's see here...without me writing a paper myself on it…

I remember the very first time he yelled, belittled me or whatever…it was just a few weeks into our relationship (I was 19, he 26). Thinking back I remembering freezing…perhaps shocked as he had me on a pedestal up until that time…I was speechless… it was so overpowering….almost felt like a child and he was the adult. I felt powerless. Why didn’t this seem really wrong to me? That is what I want to know…I had never been talk to like that nor had heard anyone speak to another like that…so it wasn’t something I assumed was normal. Perhaps it was a self-esteem issue…don’t know, just know it was very powerful. And now thinking back, I wasn’t going anywhere, he basically took control of me… (and really had control of me from the minute I met him to this very minute - 20 yrs later and his words still have a very powerful effect me).

I guess if I could sum it up in one sentence: The feeling of being powerless .

November 8, 2006
1:15 pm
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Zax,
You made a great analogy. It is not like the relationship is always bad. But the bad slowly erodes us enough that we don't see what has become of us.

My husband is also very charismatic, successful, and respected. Even now that he has admitted his problem and is in treatment, people still seem to cut him slack. They say that I "am so strong to have put up with so much, and look at him - he's trying so hard to recover. Isn't he a great guy - he loves you so much."

I want to scream that no I was in fact weak to put up with so much and isn't he an a*hole for doing this to our family.

Anyway, brilliant analogy. And keep those positive thoughts about yourself coming.

Katie

November 8, 2006
1:26 pm
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lovinglife
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What I'm hearing from Zax and Katies posts that really hit home for me... is the *good image* of him- How others viewed him.

Almost like because of who he was that he knew more or something...that he was above me???

November 8, 2006
1:30 pm
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lovinglife
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now that you got me thinking Lolli : )

The thing is I could and have done circles around him. And though he has ALWAYS made it come across that I need him- the fact is...he needed me.

November 8, 2006
1:34 pm
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lovinglife
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he leaves me feeling powerless- for me that is what it has been all these years. huh.

November 8, 2006
1:44 pm
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I think the reason why I stay with my current husband is Fear. I am afraid to start over again. I have had numerous failed relationships and 3 failed marriages. I am 49, completely financially dependent on him, my options of living with family members are almost worse then staying in this current relationship. The abuse is not having any money of my own, having all our assets listed solely in his name. I am paralized by unemployment. After breaking my ankle 4 months into the marriage, I had to sell my home because I could no longer afford to make the payments because of my disability. I was going to lose it because he did not offer to help me out financially. I have no money of my own. My attempts to become employable since then have been disastrous. I worked for an insurance co., got my license as an agent and then was told by my boss that he was retiring and I would be his daughters secretary. No way. I quit. I started selling Mary Kay shortly thereafter and have done so for 2 years but have not been able to pay back my credit card for the money I borrowed to start my initial inventory. I have applied for jobs and not gotten an interview. I feel like a failure in my career as well which is tied in to my taking the verbal abuse from my husband. It is a daily badgering. He calls it joking. It gets really bad when we are in his vehicle. I totally feel like I am imprisioned. Why don't I leave? Where would I go? How would I support myself? I have been attending 12 step programs to help me with my self worth and now I am not going there because of the controlling that exists. I don't want to be a victim. I just don't know how to proceed with my life and quit accepting unacceptable behavior from others. Some days I deny that I have problems. I think I am creating them. I tell myself it isn't that bad. I watched a video yesterday, and I realize that it is bad and I feel hopeless.

November 8, 2006
1:44 pm
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Hi Lolli

Hope I can help in your research. For my situation the degree of manipulation is astonishing. I have been yelled at, shoved against walls and thrown on floors, grabbed around the neck and choked. And after not only hours but days,(of him CONTINUALLY talking)(keep in mind this is not an apology for his acts, there are no apologies) I get convinced that everything that is wrong in the relationship is my fault, it is my way of being that is causing him pain. And like I guess as they do in the interrogation room, I break down and admit, YES, I caused all of it, I am at fault here, I'm sorry, I will work on it, and get help so it won't happen again.

Am I afraid to be by myself? No, I actually fantasize about it. Are finances holding me back? Well, I am broke, and have a business that is always struggling. I didn't have that problem when I was not in this relationship, I worked, got paid, watched my budget and paid the bills without going over pricing my style of living. Fear of anything else, well, the last time I left for 3 months, he called and threatend to kill himself, I could not handle the guilt of that so I came back.

What keeps me here is the part of the manipulation process that convinces me that out of those very small moments of happiness together, it could be a daily thing, we could have it all, if I could just get my head together, drop my shit, and be a strong, confident, passionate woman.

Funny thing is, if I did that, I would leave, wouldn't I. I wish I had the nerve to say, careful what you wish for sweetheart.

November 8, 2006
1:52 pm
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lovinglife
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and he feeds off my strength to feed his beast within...Ok I'm done now : )

wait…..I stayed during the marriage because he wouldn’t let me go. He used manipulation, financial control, anything in his power to keep me under his control. He left me completely powerless. And now today…after I allowed him back in to my life (stupid, stupid, stupid) he won’t let me go. And somehow managed to stripped me of everything leaving me feeling fricken powerless once again.

Yep, the answer for me is *powerless*. I am powerless. He has made me feel powerless.

November 8, 2006
1:55 pm
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mj
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((((((((((Women)))))))))))

Thanks for sharing your stories.

November 8, 2006
5:14 pm
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lollipop3
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Thank you all so much for sharing your personal stories. I can't tell you how much I appreciate you all participating with this.

So far I am seeing a lot of what LL described as a feeling of being powerless. You have all described it a bit differently but that seems to be the underlying consensus.

I have read the experiment that Zax described. I have felt like that chicken many times as well. I have also read experiments on "learned helplessness."

I wonder if this feeling of powerlessness would fall under "denial" (denying your own power?) or if in fact it deserves it's own heading. "Learned helplessness"?

Thank you all again and please continue to share if you'd like.

Love,
Lolli

November 8, 2006
5:25 pm
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southgoingzax
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hmm...

I really think that it is learned helplessness - we are told/shown over and over again that we can't act right on our own, aren't capable of being without them, in small and subtle ways soemtimes, but repeatedly, until we just stop believing in ourselves...just having our judgement constantly questioned, and a person of "authority" telling us what we should have done, and this person, we believe, really cares for us and wants the best for us, so he must be telling the truth, right?

I don't know...it's something in abusive interactions that rob us of our self-assuredness, having love witheld from us...funny, I just realized something, you'll have to excuse me for posting it here:

After I had told P I was planning on moving in with him (after extensive discussion over a period of YEARS), he stopped having sex with me. It just dawned on me - it wasn't because he was too tired, whether he was conscious of it or not, he did that ON PURPOSE. He witheld the only form of emotional tenderness he shows me on purpose, for two months, before he decided we were on a "break". I guess I didn't clue into it, so he had to take it to the next level. Oh, for crying out loud.

November 8, 2006
6:17 pm
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Lolli

First it was denial. I made excuses. He hit me 3 months after he first moved in with me.

After a year of getting physically hit every 5-6 weeks , and verbally and emotionally abused every day- I did not want to admit to my family or myself that I was wrong, and I tried to “make nice” so as not to anger him.

I was isolated by his jealousy - I was only allowed to see my mother, and he would call the house after 17 minutes, the time it took to drive from my house to hers.

He was so charming to everyone but me, no one believed me when I finally left and told the reason why.

Then with realisation, it was fear - he had everything to lose if I left him, and I knew that there was nothing more dangerous than a cornered animal. This was in 1994, during the trial of OJ Simpson, and all the stats came out- how abused women that try to get away are stalked and/or killed by the abusers. It scared me worse.

And it was financial - he kept us in debt. He ran up phone bills - and I never had any extra money. His money was his, because all the bills were in my name. I have no children, so when I finally left, it was not as much a hardship as it is for ladies with children. I had to fight really hard to maintain payments and a credit rating.

Through it all, my self-esteem underwent a slow erosion. Because of how bad I felt about myself, I am amazed I had enough oomph to leave.

I hope this helps. Let me know if you have other questions.

Bevdee

November 8, 2006
7:04 pm
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Hi Lolli

It's so refreshing that you will be writing a paper based on the perspectives of women who have been there or are currently there.

I would have to agree with the underlying feelings of powerlessness, but only in the social arena. I know I always felt very self conscious in front of others- rarely if ever relaxed, comfortable, confident. I felt as though I would be judged, and the judgement would reflect and confirm my own negative self image of ugly, fat, stupid, weird- of not belonging. For me, this image began long before I met my abusive husband. Not being asked out in high school. Being a bit of an outcast. But pretty-smart-thin-athletic- one would have thought I had it all. Somehow, I never fit in. so when somebody said he loved me, that's all he needed to do to create dependence.

Then it went downhill from there. I knew that I was in an abusive relationship, but on a lower level than conscious thought- like the thoughts that are always going around in one's head but we don't really speak them or acknowledge them. they're just there. I wanted to make him happy- my self esteem rested on that. I was going to rescue him and heal him and he was going to cherish me for that.

By the time I really started to want out, it seemed impossible. I was isolated, financially dependent, had children, and he was cruel. From there survival mode set in.

I wanted to leave, but the devil known was better than the devil unknown.

I pushed his buttons. I know I did. There was a song and dance that we did, and I was part of that. I felt in control when I pushed his buttons.

We were codependent.

There was a strange role reversal in thought- we both believed I was the perpetrator and he the victim. He blamed me and so did I.

It took alot to convince me that he was the perpetrator of the violence, whether or not I pushed his buttons.

I resisted accepting the victim role. It meant I was powerless and I didn't like that.

finally, a man who wants to hurt his victim WILL. A man who wants to hurt his children to punish his victim WILL.

Contrary to public and popular belief, there is very little the legal system can do to stop that or to hold the abuser accountable.

free

November 8, 2006
7:05 pm
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All you ladies, who wrote are brave... I still can't write, about something I can't confront...

November 8, 2006
7:31 pm
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You can army.

you're choosing not to. I chose not to as well, for years.

free

November 8, 2006
7:41 pm
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Army write the first thing that comes to mind - Why can't I leave? Don't think- just blurt it out

November 8, 2006
9:20 pm
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lollipop3
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Army,

You can confront your issues and your situation and you will...when you are ready.

In Alanon, they speak of the 3A's.

Awareness, Acceptance, Action

The first step is AWARENESS because you cannot change what you don't acknowledge. You must develop awareness before you can move on to the second step. I believe you have achieved that awareness.

The second step is ACCEPTANCE. For some of us, acceptance can come easily once we are aware. For others of us....acceptance can take years.

The third and final step is ACTION. Once we have become aware of our situation and have accepted the reality of that situation, we are then free to take action...whatever that may be. For some it is getting therapy or joining a support group. For others it may be to set boundaries for ourselves. And for some it may mean ending the realtionship. Only you can decide what course of action is right for you.

Don't worry if you can't share here. Perhaps you can just read some of the other's personal stories and gain some insight from them. Whether you choose to act now or not.....everything you learn here will be with you for you to use when you are ready.

Thanks for being here.

Love,
Lolli

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