I hear tons of people saying, “why didn’t she leave if he abused her?” They boast that if they were in the abused person’s position, they’d have gone through the door and the only things left behind would be the sound of their heels on the floor and the dust they produce as they step out of the relationship.
What I say is, good for them if they’d really do that. They clearly have a sense of self-esteem that I seemed to lack.
I once was in that position—I too made hurtful and stupid comments like that. You never know how life is for someone until you’re in their shoes. I learned a lot, and I will strive to avoid that kind of judgment in the future.
So, why are all those abused women not leaving? More often than not, those are smart, beautiful, amazing women with a lot of personality, great careers, who could be with someone who treated them better. Those women that are reduced to nothing, emotionally, psychologically and even physically abused, why do they stay? It doesn’t make sense, does it?
They’ve been isolated
One of the most destructive things a psychopath can do to harm his victim is to isolate her from the people who care about her.
When I lived with my husband, he chose to make us move to the country (an hour and a half away from my family and friends), and made sure I was stranded there. There was nowhere to go, no one to talk to. I didn’t drive—which he blamed me for, but at the same time he made sure I couldn’t learn by not taking me to driving lessons).
I was dependent on him for everything—I didn’t work since I was taking care of my two special needs kids, so I saw no one and talked to no one about my situation.
When I could have a conversation with my friends, it was in the evenings or week-ends, and he was within earshot.
They don’t have money
The narcissist knows how to keep his victims. He won’t let them use their money, or will make sure they don’t work in order to have power over them. It’s hard to go anywhere and start over without any money.
They’re afraid no one will believe them
There’s a lot of reasons for that, the first one being that the abuse is not always physical, so there is no proof.
It’s hard to go back and change your tune after all the praise you gave at the beginning of the relationship. It’s hard to say things are going crazy, all of a sudden, and risk facing the disbelief of your family and friends. It’s hard to explain how all of those little things he does to you add up to abuse, because no one in a healthy relationship can really understand what is happening to you.
And he’s so believable when he talks, he is so skilled at lying and painting you as the bad guy. He’s been planting seeds of doubt in everyone’s mind, and triangulating you with the people in your life for a long time now. You’ll feel they’re all doubting you—and for some of them, it’s actually the case.
They are ashamed
You don’t want to be that person your family and friends talk about, the one who didn’t have enough self-esteem and stayed in an abusive relationship.
You anticipate the questions about why you’ve stayed all those years if it was that bad. You fear you’re going to be judged by your family, your friends. Of course, not all of them will judge you, and most of them will probably be supportive, but that is not something that victims dare to count on.
You know how good the psychopath is at twisting events and words, and you’re not sure they haven’t got to your support network and poisoned them against you. Some victims are told they’re overreacting, or lying, or even that they’re bringing the abuse on themselves. It’s no wonder you don’t want to tell them.
They still have hope
You still hope the relationship can go back to that wonderful grooming phase at the beginning, when he was so in love with you, treated you like a princess, would have given anything to be with you, and was nothing short of your soul mate. It’s kind of hard, even after leaving, to convince yourself it was never real.
You hope your love will be enough to save that damaged man, your relationship, and yourself in the same fell swoop. You feel you can’t leave him, because that would be abandoning him when he needs you the most. That would be turning your back on your soul mate—and your soul mate he becomes again, for a short moment, to be sure that you won’t really leave, because a psychopath never does let one of his victims go.
They feel worthless, they feel they deserve the abuse
The psychopath has done you so much damage, has brainwashed you for so long, that you actually feel he is right. You are ugly, you are stupid, you are totally dependent on him—just like he’s been repeating you over and over, more and more intensely.
You start thinking that if you were perfect, he would finally love you again, just like he did in the beginning. And you strive to be everything for him, to dedicate yourself to his every wish, though it is never enough.
They’re afraid no one else will ever love them the way he did
The grooming and honeymoon phase I had with my husband was probably the best time I ever had in my life. We were so connected. We were one and the same. We adored each other, would swear we’d grow old together and never leave. We would be each other’s center of the universe.
Little did I know it was only real for me.
What’s left today of my love life? It’s not over, of course—at least, let’s hope!—but I know I will never experience that thrill again, as fake as it was in the end.
It’s hard to fall so hard for someone and realize that you were in love with a person that doesn’t exist. I loved the mask he wore, the one he had carefully chosen to make me believe he was everything I ever wanted in a man.
I don’t believe in soul mates anymore—not that kind. I know I will never love again the way I loved him in the beginning of our relationship. It’s a horrible feeling, when I think about it, but at the same time, I realize now that it’s sane not to idealize someone.
Soul mates do exist, on a smaller scale. You can have soul mates for lovers or friends, people you share something profound with. But they should never be your everything. I learned that the hard way.
They fear for their lives
This is the major point, and one I cannot stress enough. When you live with a psychopath, even if he is not beating you up, you cannot fail to remember all the times he threatened you, hiding it behind a joke.
I remember my then boyfriend telling me, laughingly, that if I ever left him he would kill me. It has always bothered me, but I could never say why so I laughed it off. Why would I ever leave him? He was perfect, and I was totally and unequivocally in love with him. I remembered that fact, aghast, when I began considering divorcing him.
It’s when they know you’re definitely gone that the probability of you getting hurt—really hurt, or even dead—skyrockets.
People asking why we stayed do not know the pressure we live under day to day with our psychopaths. They have no idea how helpless we feel, how vulnerable we’ve become, and how dangerous the simple action of leaving can be.
Why It’s Hard to Leave is an article published in the first issue of my series, the Psycho Pact.
The Psycho Pact series is aimed at people who are currently in an abusive relationship with a psychopath/narcissist/sociopath, and are trying to survive the break-up.
Understanding how the psychopath behaves, why he acts how he does, and what to expect at any stage of the relationship, is the only way to begin healing and to avoid future problems.
If you have a subscription to Kindle Unlimited, you can borrow it for free on Amazon.