Breaking the Silence: Why I Stayed

It's a fair question, one that doesn't have a simple answer.  If my marriage was so awful, and my ex-husband abusive, why on earth did I stay? 

I stayed for lots of reasons. 

I stayed because I was afraid - of the unknown, of starting over, of being alone.

I stayed because I wanted children.

I stayed because I didn't want to admit failure.

I stayed because "God hates divorce."

I stayed because I made my bed, and now I had to lie in it.

I stayed because everyone has problems, and no one's marriage is perfect.

I stayed because I am stubborn.

I stayed because relationships take work.

I stayed because I thought I could save him.

I stayed because I couldn't imagine my life any differently.

I stayed because my children deserved to know their father.

I stayed because I was scared of supporting them on my own.

I stayed for a thousand reasons, but most of all I stayed because I believed him.  I believed him when he told me that no one else would ever love me, ever could.   I believed him when he said that the only reason he did X, was because I did Y.  I believed him when he told me that his behavior wasn't his fault, and I believed him when he told me that he wanted to, and would, do better.

I believed him.  I believed him the first time, and the second, and the five-hundredth.  I believed him, each and every time. 

I stayed because I believed him -- and I left because, in the end, I believed him, then, too.  When he said that he would take my children and that I would never see them again, I believed him.  When he told me that he would make me pay for his imagined slights, I believed him.  When he told me that he hated me, I believed him.

It was a hard lesson for me to learn, but one that's finally starting to sink in.  People will show you who they are. 

Believe them.


  1. It's extremely difficult to reconcile everything we're taught, with everything we believe, with our own self-image, and with our perceptions of the world. I think that's why it takes people so long to leave, when it might seem obvious to everyone else.

  2. This is powerfully insightful. Too often, we blame the victim. If things were so bad, why not leave? But as you pointed out, it’s never that simple. And often, when we are facing such a situation, people either ignore it or find reasons to justify the abuse.

    I’m so sorry you lived through all you did. But you are proving how strong you are. How amazing you are. Even if you don’t feel like it.

    Thinking of you.

  3. If you've never gone through it, it's easy to ask "why didn't you just leave?". But when you actually live It's shocking and eye-opening, and you see exactly why it's so hard to leave. I still haven't been able to.

  4. Wow, this is very powerful. I'm glad that you believed him when he showed who he was, and hoping that you have stopped believing everything he said about you, blaming you. As the others said, you are showing how strong and amazing you are. Be kind to yourself, and believe your own actions too.

  5. This is powerful indeed. And very timely, considering how many powerful men have been outed recently for preying on vulnerable women -- and how many people are asking why the women didn't speak out before this. Easier said than done sometimes. I am glad you are building another life now.


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