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Why Do Men Stay in an Abusive Relationship?

By Sarah Casimong ; Updated June 13, 2017

We often hear about women feeling trapped in abusive relationships, but men can also be abused by their romantic partners. There are many kinds of abuse that a man can experience, including physical, emotional, financial, sexual and spiritual abuse. Before juding a man who stays in an abusive relationship, understand that leaving could be a risk for him.

It's Embarrassing

Because our culture generally expects males to be tougher than females, it may be embarrassing for a man to admit that he is being abused by his wife or girlfriend. He may feel like less of a man if he admits to being the victim of abuse, according to the Alberta Children and Youth Services Prevention of Family Violence and Bullying publication, "Men Abused By Women in Intimate Relationships." He might even be ashamed to admit that he is not the dominant one in the relationship, and see his role in the marriage as a failure.

Feeling Obligated

External pressures sometimes keep a man in an abusive relationship. He might feel obligated to keep the family together for the sake of their image, for example. If his cultural or religious views look down on divorce, he may not even see it as an option at all. He might come from a family where marital vows are taken very seriously and he feels committed to them.

Holding Onto Love

Abusive relationships don’t start out abusive, so he may hope that things will go back to the way they were when he first fell in love. He may be focusing on to his partner's likable characteristics and blocking out the abuse, according to the "Psychology Today" article "Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships?" by psychologist Craig Malkin. An abusive partner may act sweet and caring after hurting her lover, making it hard not to forgive her every time she apologizes.

Dependent on Partner

Leaving a relationship may not seem worth it to someone who is dependent on his partner. If he is emotionally dependent and has low self-esteem, he may be scared of picturing his life without her validation. His partner may use his insecurities against him, letting him believe that he deserves the abusive treatment. He might also be financially dependent, if his partner is the breadwinner, and believe that he cannot leave because he has nowhere to go.

He Is Scared

There are many reasons a man could be scared to leave an abusive relationship. He might fear for his life or safety if his partner is violent. If he is a father, he might be scared that she will not let him see the kids if he leaves her. He might fear that the courts won’t grant him custody of the kids and he would have to leave them with an abusive mom.

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