How To Stay Stuck In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

11 Sep 2011

A friend of mine stayed stuck for far too long in her emotionally abusive relationship with a man who was especially vile – even as abusers go.

As her friend, I did everything I could to support her.  I did my level best to help her see her way out of her relationship.

But could I help her?

Nothing I did seemed to work.

Or, at the very least, it didn’t work nearly quickly enough.

That man sapped her energy and destroyed her self-worth…  And, still, she stayed.

It looked as if there was nothing so bad he could do that she wouldn’t find a way to accept it.

She listened to everything I said.  It made perfect sense to her.  It nearly moved her to action and then…

Something happened.

She got distracted by the soundtrack inside her own head.

One of the things that happens when you are constantly under stress, and deeply unhappy, is your attention span gets shot to tiny pieces.  My friend would listen with the best intentions in the world, and she’d start to follow an idea I laid before her…

And then she’d get caught up, again, in her own internal dialogue – or, more specifically, monologue.  And she’d disempower herself, again.

She’d be back focusing on the problem, not the solution.

It seemed to be a never-ending cycle.

One day, I did something different.

I wasn’t acting out of kindness.  I was acting out of exasperation; I couldn’t bear to watch it anymore.  I could see she was going through the motions, more to humor me than to bring about any real change.

Instead of hearing her out as a loving friend, I simply said to her:

“If you carry on like this much longer, you WILL go down.”

I didn’t hear from her for a while, and I didn’t hold out much hope.

The next time I did hear from her she’d done the unthinkable:

She’d left her vile partner.

Sometimes a statement of bald facts is the most helpful thing of all.

This week, I want to tell you

The Top 10 Reasons Why You Stay Stuck In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship Even When You Say You’ve Had Enough

1)     You still don’t believe it’s really happening – despite all the proof.

2)     You really, really want him to acknowledge your feelings.

3)      You keep on speaking to him, to tell him you can’t be in a relationship with him anymore.

4)     In one of those conversations he actually says the right thing, for once. 5 minutes of him playing Mr Nice Guy was enough to make you think maybe it was worth trying to paper over all the fissure in the relationship, again.

5)     You feel you have to carry on giving him one more chance, after another.  Just in case…

6)     You believe him when he says you’re lucky to have him – even though you dislike almost everything about him – and you know he’s a jerk.

7)     You believe it really could be all your fault the relationship failed.

8)     You’re frightened someone else might make him happy – not that he’s ever shown any capacity for happiness.

9)     You’re terrified nobody else will ever want you.

You think the relationship can still work out, because he can still change his spots.  (If he loved you enough, he’d kick the bad habits, and have a personality transplant, wouldn’t he?)

You can carry on negotiating for as long as you like with the partner who makes you miserable.  It’s not a problem for him.  He’s in control of the situation, and he is getting his pay-offs.

You can carry on negotiating as long as you like,  it won’t get you anywhere.   But it will keep you stuck in the relationship.

That’s a huge price to pay.


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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