Why Do Girls Stay in an Abusive Relationship?

Low self-esteem can cause a girl to remain in an abusive relationship.
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Abusive relationships do not involve only physical violence. It begins with the abuser wanting to gain control and power over his girlfriend through emotional and psychological abuse, according to the article, "Abusive Relationships: Get Help, Get Out," published on PBS.org. Put-downs, threats, accusations of cheating and constant phone calls or texts are some of the behaviors the abuser will use . Physical force will be his last resort.

1 Prince Charming

Relationships don't begin as abusive. A girl may stay in an established relationship that has turned abusive for numerous reasons, but would likely run if someone abused her in the early stages of courtship. Generally speaking, an abuser comes on strong in the beginning of the relationship. He showers his girlfriend with attention and adoration, according to the website, Teens Experiencing Abusive Relationships or T.E.A.R., an organization founded by teens to prevent dating abuse through education. The relationship becomes unhealthy and abusive as his love and affection becomes obsessive and overwhelming. By then, she is invested in the relationship.

2 Her Heart Belongs to Him

Having a loving connection with someone can make it difficult for a girl to see she is in an abusive relationship, particularly if the abuse hasn't escalated to physical violence. Some of her self-esteem may be wrapped up in the relationship, causing her to feel she doesn't measure up to her partner, according to the article, "A Parent's Guide to Teen Dating Violence ," published on the Oprah website. This may be her first boyfriend. Being inexperienced can make it hard to understand the difference between jealousy and love. Jealousy can lead to her partner controlling her every move while love allows the two of them to grow and change.

3 The Shame That Binds Her

Being in an abusive relationship can bring feelings of deep shame and embarrassment. She may fear her parents will be disappointed in her if she reveals what is happening in her relationship with her boyfriend, according to the Oprah website. Her friends may notice she seems different. They may try to persuade her to leave which usually serves to reinforce the negative things he has said about her family and friends, according to PBS.org. She may become isolated, and continuing to harbor her secret can make it increasingly difficult to escape the abusive situation. If her boyfriend becomes physically abusive or the physical violence escalates, her life may be in danger.

4 An Example of Love

Girls who stay in an abusive relationship may not know any different. These girls may be witnesses to abusive behavior between their parents, according to Oprah.com. They may think this is what a relationship feels like and feel compelled to deal with the negative feelings and behaviors that stem from the interaction with him. Girls in an abusive relationship may have tried to leave but the repercussions have now made them fearful to try again, says PBS.org. She may have a feeling of responsibility, especially if her boyfriend threatens to harm himself or says he can't live without her.

Karen Kleinschmidt has been writing since 2007. Her short stories and articles have appeared in "Grandma's Choice," "Treasure Box" and "Simple Joy." She has worked with children with ADHD, sensory issues and behavioral problems, as well as adults with chronic mental illness. Kleinschmidt holds a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Montclair State University.