I thought about this and decided to respond here instead of on Facebook.
I don't know why she stayed, only she can answer. But I would be very surprised if at least some of the reasons I shall list don't apply.
So here is why she and people like her may stay:
- It started out so slowly and insidiously that she didn't realise it was abuse until she was married or much later.
- She thinks that she doesn't deserve better.
- She's afraid, confused, guilty and burdened by obligation.
- He's hurting and needs her love. She can heal him, it's her duty to just keep giving.
- She thinks she's to blame for most of what goes wrong- if she could stop being so emotional and weak things might improve.
- She sees him behave properly in every other situation except with her- it's her fault.
- She minimises incidents, explosions, hurts and humiliations as soon as things get on a more even keel.
- She feels embarrassed, thinks she overreacts, knows she's not perfect, thinks of herself as too argumentative and combatative.
- She finds it hard to keep track of what happens.
- She still feels love for her partner- it may turn out that the emotion could more accurately described as pity.
- She's frightened of change, of things getting even worse if she tries to end the relationship.
- She can't imagine how things would be if the marriage ended.
- She's afraid of being alone.
- She's concerned about the impact on her children.
- She's afraid of what a man with wealth and power could do to her if she tries to leave him, how he could affect her reputation or career. Will he start telling people that she's mentally ill or unstable?
- Sometimes it's fun being with him, she remembers good times they shared, sometimes he acts as though he might actually love her.
- He might apologise, promise that he loves her, he'll change and do whatever it takes to make things ok, but that he can't do it without her.
- Stockholm syndrome is real- the person causing the hurt may then take care of her, increasing the confusion, making her dependent on him and feeling like she couldn't possibly cope without him.
- His promises keep lighting the hope that things will improve. Hope takes a long time to die.
- Ending a marriage goes against all her values and principles, she thinks that she must fight harder to make it work, give it one more go, try to accept things or be more understanding.
- Ending a marriage means admitting defeat- she must accept that she failed to either pick the right partner or to make a marriage work. She might feel shame especially if she's the only person this has happened to in her family. She might feel shame that people will blame other difficulties in her life for making marriage impossible.
All kinds of women and men can be in abusive relationships. Thankfully sometimes she recognises what's been happening, fights the denial, crushes false hope and with a heck of a lot of help, she gets out of it and makes a far better life without the abusive jerk. But it never stops stinging slightly when people ask "why did she stay?"