Why Does Anyone Stay with an Abuser?

I blindly began to trust someone other than myself. I traded my instincts to walk a tightrope. I became determined to keep that, for which I was selling my soul.

Why do seemingly intelligent, capable people choose to stay with those who destroy their soul?

Leaving someone who hurts you seems like the obvious thing to do.
Below is a reflection that I wrote after I left my abusive marriage as I began processing the decisions I had made that impacted my family and me. I see clearly now that I was more committed to the abuse than to the care of my soul. I hope by sharing my truth, others will gain clarity for the decisions they are making and the impact of those choices on their family and future generations.

May 18th, 2015

For so long, I dwelled in denial. Dismissing the cues, I listened to lies. The truth was inconceivable. It feels like an emotional predator has been stalking on my romanticisms, the way a pedophile preys on unsuspecting children. I never saw it clearly, before now. I was tangled up in the web of wants, desires, and foolhardiness. I was drawn in, warm and close where I let my defenses down. I blindly began to trust someone other than myself. I traded my instincts to walk a tightrope. I became determined to keep that, for which I was selling my soul.
Satan was the director. I was deceived. I exchanged my truth for lies.

Genesis 3:1-4

“1Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” 

2 And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, 

3 but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’” 

4 But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die. 

 I can relate to Eve.
She was capable of doing the right thing, but Satan quickly led her into chaos.
I was no different.
‘You are right,’ I agreed. I listened to his rationality of what was, versus what I knew to be true and how I felt. I must have been overlooking something.
I slowly began to believe I was crazy. I believed I had nowhere to go. I believed there was nothing more for me. #recoverfromabuseI began to dismiss my truth.
When I let my defenses down, a whip of vicious attacks lashed out, once again. The more I shared how it all felt, the more I was led to believe how wrong my feelings were. I slowly began to believe I was crazy. I believed I had nowhere to go, there was nothing more for me, though that was not true at all.
I wasn’t crazy.
I did have somewhere to go.
I did have a lot more of life available to me.
However, I felt dependent on him for all my cares. He squeezed the life out of me. It’s so clear now. I am safe.
I think others wonder why abuse victims do not leave. It is not easy to leave abuse. You want the relationship to work. You long for the same feeling of security that initially lured you in.
You begin to believe you are weak.
You believe you are fortunate that your partner is willing to put up with you.
You believe that no one will ever want you.
You believe there is no choice except to stay.
You believe you are lucky because they are putting up with your many shortcomings which he constantly identifies in you.

It doesn’t start out that way.

No frog jumps into boiling water. It begins with the fairytale, ‘You are so special.’ Who isn’t longing for someone to finally notice their heart? He tells you, ‘Trust me, I’ll care for and protect you.’
Soon we abandon our core beliefs to rest in the illusion. As soon as we let our guard down, the unreasonable expectations and demands come in a confusing form. For me, it was a perfectionistic lifestyle, requirements that I was never going to be able to accomplish. I was defeated over and over. My best efforts never met the mark. My determination to please overruled any form of self-care. I became more and more dependent.
I had many gifts and talents. But as I became dependent on him, they were lost in the sea of perpetual shortcomings. He certainly didn’t want my gifts and talents. He pushed them aside. I discovered my talent for writing and speaking. He would say, “You can do that when you have conquered being a stay at home mom. Now organize the drawers and cabinets.”
When people live with toxic individuals, the dreams and desires in their heart get replaced with survival. You become trained to be the servant for the abuser, without rights or a voice. Never good enough, you always need to try harder. You know something is not right. You lose the confidence to say how you see things. You rarely speak up. You are a fool.
If this is resonating in your heart, it is time to take steps. Get in a safe space so that you can become healthy.  Is the relationship you are committed to what you want your children to repeat? They will do as you do, not as you say. Will you be the courageous one to break the cycle of abuse in your family?
I certainly was in mine.
You are not alone. God is always with you, no matter what you have thought, said or done. He offers forgiveness for everything under the sun. All you should do is ask. He loves you.  Though it may not feel like it, He can and will provide for all your needs. Likewise, if you are one who has abused, forgiveness is just as available for you, if you ask.

Romans 10:9

9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  

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