Trigger warning: Abusive relationships
Have you found yourself asking “Why do I stay when I know it is abusive?” or “Why is my friend still there when there is clear maltreatment?”
Here are some things that can explain why you or others may stay:
1. TRAUMA BONDING
The hurt happens, and then comes a honeymoon phase (trauma bond). To say very little, examples of trauma bonding can be screaming in one’s face or emotional wounds followed by a hug or some kind of tearful statement from the abuser. The victim then feels sorry or loved. The victim is so empathetic and understanding that they can’t help but feel for the abuser and go on as if the harm did not occur.
2. “BUT THEY AREN’T ALL THAT BAD”
“Yeah, they aren’t all that bad.” They are perfectly capable of showing what love is or what a healthy relationship is like, only to be kicked behind the knee once again. You know they are bad, but not all that bad because they do give little spurts of real human interaction.
3. YOU HOLD ON TO THE GOOD
You dismiss the pain and just hope that things can go back to what they were at the beginning. You remember those little moments when the relationship was good that you let all of the red flags slide. You are fueled by hope of good and better moments.
4. YOU THINK THE ABUSER WILL CHANGE AND FIND YOURSELF JUSTIFYING THEIR BEHAVIOR
“Oh they’re going through a tough time at work.”
“Someone is sick in the family.”
“They had a bad childhood.”
Okay, how long have you had this self talk with your self?
How many more justifications are you going to give before you run dry and break?
Months pass; years pass.
Nothing has changed.
They are not going to change. Only you can.
I hope this sheds more insight and self-awareness.
If you find yourself identifying with a lot of this, please remember to take care of yourself. You are not obliged to stay or take care of toxic people and environments in your life. Even if the toxic people are family or coworkers, you can set boundaries. You are responsible for taking care of yourself and ending abusive cycles.