Sometimes it's not all black and white either. It can come out in many different forms. It can be verbal and or mental. It doesn't have to be physical but it is still abuse. This behavior causes mental scars. I think many women rationalize staying for many different reasons. I don't think all women realize how it affects their children when it isn't directed at the children. One of my friends told me that their parents argued a lot and it was a huge relief when they split.
The laws are messed up too. I know in NYS that someone can legally bust up everything in their home and they are not breaking any laws. WHAT?!?!? If they don't lay a hand on their spouse, what they are doing is perfectly legal.
I find this to definitely be a pattern in families. The families that are used to this type of behavior act like it is practically acceptable and there is not much wrong with it and the cycle continues. They condone it by reacting to it passively or mentioning that it could be worse.
If you are reading this and feel that this could be you, it probably is. Find someone you can trust to talk to, gather your inner strength, and get out.