She is afraid she will be told to be a better wife, to submit more, to love her husband so much that he will change, that she is 50% of the problem.
She’s afraid people won’t believe her, that they’ll tell her it can’t be that bad, that husbands can be difficult.
She is afraid that she will be told that what her husband does to her and wants from her is normal. She knows that his behavior makes her feel crazy and physically sick and very sad, so she wonders what is wrong with her. She must not be normal, after all, he tells her all the time that she’s not. She doesn’t want confirmation of that because she doesn’t know how she can survive like this for the rest of her life.
She is trying to protect her husband and her marriage. If she tells someone, then people outside her home will know what her husband is really like. It would be embarrassing for him and might make it more difficult to change. Or it might drive him to worse behavior. She just doesn’t want to risk it. Sometimes dealing with the known is easier than the thought of the unknown.
She is afraid of what will happen to the children if she tells someone. Will they be taken away from her? She’s heard that, often, fathers get 50% custody, and sometimes primary custody. She doesn’t want to be away from her children for so much time. She can protect them if she’s with them, but she doesn’t trust her husband not to hurt them. She’s afraid that her husband will find another woman and expose the children to things she knows aren’t good for them.
She’s afraid of how she will support herself and her children if by asking for help, she finds out that she is being abused, and a divorce is the result. She has heard that the court does not grant spousal support, and she hasn’t had a paying job outside the home in many years. If she has to get a job, who will take care of her children? And how could she support herself and her children on the wages from the type of job she could get?
She’s afraid she will lose friends if word gets out that she is being abused. She knows the people at church won’t like it. Her husband is a “good man” out in public. She’s been told that a good wife doesn’t speak negatively about her husband.
She’s embarrassed. How could she let someone treat her the way her husband does? She’s been told that she can’t trust her heart or her “gut feelings,” that love isn’t based on feelings, but on commitment.
She’s been told that a good marriage takes hard work. Shouldn’t there be some good for all that hard work? But should it feel like you’re hitting your head against a brick wall over and over and over again? What if it really is that hard?