Feeling guilt in your relationship? You’re not alone.

Woman leaning on a fence

“Why did you stay in an abusive relationship?”

It’s such a common question asked of those who have either left or considered leaving abusive relationships. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. Many factors can keep people in unhealthy relationships, including lack of money, fear, and isolation. Often, guilt plays a major role in why people stay or delay leaving.

What do we even mean by guilt?

One of the ways abusive partners get us to stay with them is by convincing us that it’s our fault when bad things happen in the relationship and that we deserve them. They use tactics like gaslighting, where they make you question things you know to be true, or act like you hurt them even though they’re the one being abusive.

They may also try to isolate you from your friends and family, so you don’t have anyone share your concerns with. When you spend weeks, months, or even years taking the blame and keeping quiet about it, it becomes easier to believe that you really are to blame. This guilt can make people feel like they aren’t worthy of a healthy relationship. And then they’re more likely to stay where they are.

It’s not your fault.

Here’s the good news. It’s not your fault, and you don’t deserve to be treated disrespectfully. Luckily, there are several ways to tell if your partner is trying to guilt you.

Asking yourself the these questions:

  • When you tell your partner they upset or hurt you, do they get offended and act like it was really YOU who hurt them?
  • Do they get angry or yell at you when they don’t get their way?
  • Does your partner say things that make you feel bad about yourself?
  • Do they try to convince others that you said or did things that you didn’t really say or do?
  • Do they try to limit the time you spend with your friends or family?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, it’s a good idea to take a closer look at the relationship.

You deserve better.

You deserve to be with a partner who respects you, lifts you up, and supports your other social connections. If you find yourself feeling guilty when you know you haven’t done anything wrong, you’re not alone. This has happened to countless people, and there are things you can do to advocate for yourself.

First of all, remember that you always have the right to leave if you aren’t happy or if you’re being treated poorly. You might also want to consider talking to a counselor, a trusted friend or family member, or one of our helpful advocates. We’re here for you 24/7 at 425-746-1940 or 800-827-8840.