Why Susan Still Stayed in an Abusive Marriage for Many Years

Season 4 Episode 417
Aired on 11/16/2014 | CC tv-14
In May 2007, millions tuned in to The Oprah Winfrey Show see the story of Susan Still, a mother of three, whose husband physically and emotionally abused her throughout their 17-year marriage. Domestic abuse affects 1 out every 4 women in America, but one thing made Susan's story stand out from the rest.

One Sunday afternoon in 2003, Ulner Lee Still, Susan's then-husband, forced their 13-year-old son to videotape him as he berated and beat his wife for 51 minutes. Susan says her eldest son operated the camera while her 8-year-old son sat in the room, watching the abuse unfold.

After The Oprah Show aired this shocking footage, operators from the National Domestic Violence Hotline reported that they received three times the number of calls they normally receive.

Now, more than 10 years after Susan packed up her family and left her ex-husband, she sits down with Oprah once again to discuss why she stayed in an abusive relationship for so many years. "You get to a point where your abuser totally does something to totally overpower you, and they also make you believe that it's your fault," she says. "They brainwash [you] to believe that [you] are the problem."

Another reason victims of abuse stay, Susan says, is because their abusers don't always start out violent. "They come into the relationship as this really great person, and so we as victims remember the good times. We remember that those times existed, so [we believe] if we just fix ourselves, it'll go back to the way it was."

In the above video, watch as Susan opens up to Oprah about her experience. Plus, Susan's younger son, Dazmann, reveals whether he's forgiven his father.

More from this episode