Why We Tolerate Abusive Relationships
When you’re on the outside of an abusive relationship it seems crazy that people put up with it, but when you’re the one in the relationship it’s a whole other story. Being in an abusive relationship, and tolerating it, often has more to do with ourselves rather than the other person. Here are some of the common reasons why we tolerate abusive relationships:
· We stay because we have low self-esteem. We get into relationships with abusive people and stay with them as a result of having low self-esteem. When we don’t think very highly of ourselves we attract people that confirm our beliefs by treating us badly.
· We think we can change them. In abusive relationships we tend to take on all of the responsibility and burden ourselves. Instead of thinking that the abuser needs to make changes on their own, we think it’s up to us to change them, and we believe that if we were good enough we would be able to. We think if we could just be better ourselves it would make them treat us better. We don’t think we are good enough as we are to motivate them to change.
· We blame ourselves. Even though the abuser is the one doing the hitting or the name calling, we blame ourselves because our self-esteem has become so diminished. We make excuses for the other person and think that it’s our fault, such as “he wouldn’t hit me if I didn’t make him so mad”. Over time in an abusive relationship our self-esteem can get so low that we assume that everything is our fault.
· We don’t think we can do better. People often stay in abusive relationships because they don’t believe they could get anyone better, or that they deserve to be with someone who treats them better. It all comes back to the low self esteem that people in abusive relationships have – they don’t believe that they are good enough and don’t deserve to be happy.
· We think we need to improve ourselves. Another way in which we shoulder all of the burden is by thinking we are the ones that need to change, not them. We believe that if we could only be a better person or better partner, we wouldn’t cause them to act the way they do. This is our way of internalizing the abuse and turning the blame onto ourselves.
· We isolate ourselves. In abusive relationships we tend to isolate ourselves from our family and friends and other people who believe that we deserve better. Their belief that we deserve happiness is incompatible from our own when our self-esteem is that low. People in abusive relationships often cut themselves off from other people so that they don’t have to justify why they are in the relationship and why they stay. It makes them uncomfortable to be around people who want something better for them because they don’t believe that they deserve it.