Why Do People Stay in Abusive Relationships?

There’s a chance that you or someone that you know is stuck in a mentally emotionally and sometimes physically abusive relationship. One of the reasons that we get stuck in those is because we’re being held emotional hostage.

Being held an emotional hostage is basically like being a hostage, you are stuck. You are trapped in this relationship. So many of us stay in a relationship far too long because we feel like we’re being held hostage; we have no other options.

Learned helplessness

angry man

Relationships can become abusive

There’s an idea in psychology of learned helplessness. This is something that often happens when you are an emotional hostage. You keep trying things, trying things, trying things, but at some point the human psyche breaks down and we just give up. Then we stay stuck in this relationship.

It can happen to anybody. But, one of the reasons this happens, and sometimes we have to point it out to our friends, is because we romanticise the honeymoon phase of the relationship. We first meet this this guy or this girl and they’re just sweet, and they’re caring, and they’re funny, and they’re all these things. Then, months pass by and they turn into this mentally or emotionally or physically abusive person.

We stay in that relationship thinking that, “oh okay, well you know, something’s wrong right now, but I’m gonna cling on to the hope that they’ll go back to the original person that they used to be.” The important thing to realise is that sometimes you met the fake version of them.

Abusive person

This is a mentally and emotionally abusive person. This is the real version of them, when they were romancing you through that honeymoon phase, they were basically manipulating you into thinking that they are somebody that they are not.

Sometimes we have to squash that idea, that they’re gonna revert back to these this old type of person. Sometimes we’ve got to let go of that idea.

Three signs

Being unhappy is not a good sign

Here are the three signs that they are being held an emotional hostage –

One of the first one of the first, most obvious signs is that there is a point before things even really get bad like you’ll just start to see little small signs. You will have this clarity, and this gut feeling of just understanding who this person is and knowing that it would go terribly. Maybe that gets physical, maybe that gets even more verbally or emotionally abusive.

we’re afraid of what they’ll do to us if we break up with them. That is pretty much the definition that is the key indicator that you’re being held in emotional hostage. Think about a normal hostage situation: you’re afraid to make a move, you’re afraid to leave because of the consequences that this person might inflict on you. So, if you feel like that, if you feel stuck or trapped, if you are staying in a relationship purely because of the fear that you have of what will happen if you leave them, you are being held as an emotional hostage

The second sign

Number two is that you’re being held as an emotional hostage is a fear of getting yelled at or starting a fight. You’re basically walking on eggshells at all times. This person is so verbally abusive that your entire day is crafted around just not starting a fight or argument with this person. We need to make it very clear this is not a healthy relationship.

A relationship is supposed to be warm and caring and supportive.If most of your effort going into this relationship is simply avoiding some kind of fight, or argument, or getting yelled at, or berated by the person, this is not healthy. You are being held hostage. Because what eventually happens, when you get in to the mindset with this fear of getting yelled at, or starting a fight, you start to put the blame on yourself. You start to think that this is all your fault. It is your fault that this person acts like this.

You start justifying their terrible behaviours. This is really, really unhealthy.

The third sign

Being angry isn’t good for a relationship

The third sign is what we just talked about in the second side. the third sign is you start questioning whether or not this is abusive. You start wondering , “well maybe if I didn’t do this, maybe if I didn’t do that.” You start justifying in insane ways the other person’s behaviour -“I should have cleaned this up, I shouldn’t have been talking to that person, they’re right, I gave them every reason to be mad,”

You start justifying every terrible thing that they’re doing and you get stuck. What that does – it totally rips to shreds our own self confidence. We start thinking that we’re less than. We start thinking that we’re doing them a favour, especially when you get into those verbally and emotionally abusive relationships. When the other person starts telling you nobody will love you, nobody will want to be with you, you can’t do this you, can’t accomplish that, you’re not going to go anywhere.

“If it wasn’t for me, you’d be a nobody,” these are all ways that this person is keeping you as their hostage. Slowly but surely, they are breaking down your self-worth.

How to get out

Especially with that third one – here is what you need to do.

If you start wondering whether or not this is abusive, you have to quit relying on them. One of the best things to do is to start reaching out to your support group. Friends, family members, be open and honest with them about this. Start asking them. Does this sound right? Does this sound okay, that they’re doing this?

Try to reach out and get an objective point of view. This is another reason why therapy is so beneficial. you get to get an outsider’s perspective on what healthy relationships look like. If you need somebody to talk to you about your relationship struggles, make sure that you reach out to somebody, anybody. Find that support. Get out of the relationship.

Those are the three signs that you’re being held an emotional hostage. You can start to see that you’re not alone, you’re not the only person who’s going through. Then you can start building your support.

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