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Leaving An Abusive Relationship: Why Can’t I Just Leave?

Leaving an abusive relationship usually can't be done the moment you figure out your partner abuses you. Leaving abuse takes planning and time, if you have it.

So many people beat themselves up over the question “Why can’t I just leave?” You want the easy answer? You aren’t ready to leave yet.


  • haven’t been convinced that the abuse warrants you leaving, or
  • you lack financial resources, or
  • you’re in business with your abuser, or
  • the kids are too small, or
  • the kids are almost out of school, or
  • the abuser needs you, or
  • fill in your reason here.

Notice I said fill in your reason here. These are not excuses. The reasons you stay may sound like excuses to someone else, but don’t let anyone belittle your decision to stay. I really want to end that sentence with “to stay for now” but truth is that you may never leave. You could be 70 years old and wondering how your spouse is managing to exceed life expectancy, them being so miserable and nasty and all (lots of people are doing this right now).

I want you to be okay with choosing to stay, because making decisions is empowering. Staying is a choice you can make.

Leaving An Abusive Relationship Is Important

Irresponsible Advice

It would be very irresponsible of me if I don’t say a few things at this point.

  • I want you to end your abusive relationship. Life is too short and precious to spend it with a person who hurts you.
  • If your abuser physically assaults you, I hope you leave right now. Verbal abuse escalates to physical assault and assault escalates to death. Additionally, you may not be the only one to die -your abuser could murder you and then your children and anyone else on the scene.

Point is that choosing to stay with an abuser will have very serious emotional and/or physical consequences. It is only a matter of time.

Leaving An Abusive Relationship Is Not Your Only Option

Honoring a person’s choice to stay in an abusive relationship is a relatively new concept to domestic violence social workers and other domestic abuse helpers. You might find helpers who support you no matter what you decide to do. On the other hand, you might find helpers who decide there’s nothing they can do for you if you do not leave the abuser. That hurts, I know, but just because they’re the experts doesn’t mean they always know the right thing to do.

Additionally, many of your closest friends and family members may distance themselves from you if you choose to stay. Often we tell ourselves that they’re tired of listening to us complain when we won’t do anything to change it. Remember though, the ones who love you need to keep themselves sane, too. If they’re in the battle with you, they may not be strong enough to pull you out if you change your mind and leave the relationship.

Don’t take it personally if people don’t support your decision to stay, and please don’t beat yourself up because you feel you can’t leave. Let’s just roll with this for a while and see what we can do for our mental well-being when we choose to stay.

Key Concepts to Accept About Your Abusive Relationship

You cannot make your abuser happy, therefore you cannot make them mad, either. You do not have magic powers that control your abuser’s words or actions and no combination of your words or behaviors will result in an end to the abuse.

Most everything you do and say will be “wrong”, and if you are right today, you’ll probably be wrong tomorrow. So you may as well do exactly as YOU please at all times. Make your own decisions, act on your hunches. It doesn’t matter what you do, the abuse will continue.

You are in a relationship that thrives on your honest disclosures about yourself. However, unlike healthy intimate relationships, your significant other uses your deepest secrets against you. You cannot trust your abuser with your heart, so keep your mouth shut about it.

There will be moments of joy and pleasure in your abusive relationship. Go ahead and enjoy the sex, the compliment, the joke, etc. But leave the joy in the moment. Don’t assume that because s/he smiled a minute ago that the smile will be there when you look again. Humans need joy in their life, so grab all you can.

You need a safety plan. Period. Abusers are unpredictable and you never know when you’re going to have to get away from them. Thinking through a safety plan during moments of peace will help you to think more swiftly and clearly during moments of danger.

Keep people on the outside of your relationship close. Isolation is the abuser’s best friend. When you’re isolated from others, you lose the most valuable lifeline an abused person can have – ideas from people other than the abuser. You increase the effects of abuse by only hearing your abuser’s opinions, so stay connected to the world outside your home.

Educate yourself about domestic violence and abuse. Search words and phrases like verbal and emotional abuse, side effects of abuse, gaslighting, crazy-making and brainwashing. Learning a little bit each day about how your partner manipulates and controls you lessens their ability to do it.

Concepts to Accept About Yourself

You are human; a delightfully imperfect person who can do the very best you know how to do in this instant. Every instant.

You are lovable.

You deserve respect.

You can choose one thing today and another thing tomorrow.

You are powerful.

You can learn, grow and adapt.

You do not have to accept or absorb lies, even if the lie has a grain of truth to it (see Detaching from Verbal Abuse Hypnosis MP3).

You hold God’s hand, even when you cannot feel it, but sometimes you must do something differently so He can help you in another way.

You decide who stays in your life.

You decide when leaving an abusive relationship is right for you.

You can also find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

Kellie Jo Holly advocates for domestic violence and abuse awareness through her writing. You can find Kellie Jo on her website, Amazon Authors, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

672 thoughts on “Leaving An Abusive Relationship: Why Can’t I Just Leave?”

  1. I’m in tears reading these threads …. how do we get rid of these men that are so distructuve but yet we love so much ?

    1. Men like that use brainwashing techniques to get you hooked and addicted to them without your even knowing it. The only way to get rid of them is to walk away and don’t look back. He will destroy you without you even being aware of it at first until the damage is done and you are so hooked in that it is hard to get away and stay away. Join a Church, get counseling, go to a shelter whatever you have to do to get free. Trust me he will DESTROY you. Love yourself enough to cut him lose.

  2. I’m in a 3 year relationship with an alcoholic. He’s great when he’s sober but verbally abusive to me and my 15 year old daughter . She hasn’t said one word to him in over a year and we live in the same house . I’m I want to be able to just say .. that’s it and leave without looking back …. but we moved 3h away from my home town, I’m isolated . Last time I said I was leaving he burnt my stuff in the front yard. How do I find the strength to leave !!!!

    1. Don’t tell him what you are doing. Just quietly plan your escape. Then when he is gone one day have movers meet you at the house and hurrry RUN. He is destroying you and your daughter. It is very unhealthy. You will look back one day and wonder why you stayed so long.

  3. i’ve been in a emotionally abusive relationship for about a year now & he’s hurt me so many times. i’ve tried to kill my self twice because of what he’s done & said to me. he yells at me almost everyday over the littlest things. he constantly gets in trouble at school while i’m with him & it comes back on me. (i’m only 16) he tells me to “shut the fuck up” and he constantly blames everything on me. i don’t know why i can’t leave. please help me

    1. Hello Destany
      You are only 16 and already feel this empty. Imagine staying 10 more years? It doesn’t get any easier! My darling girl once you leave you will fall in love another 10xs over. Life does not begin and end with ONE man. You are both WAY to young to be so serious. You have an entire life ahead of you. Please understand no man on this planet will ever take care of you & your happiness as much as YOU will. Please focus on a fantastic academic future, go to a good college, get that money. and along the way I promise you, you will meet a good man. I know it. do what you love in life and the love of your life will follow.

    2. Destany, You are being abused. It is not your fault. He is trying to brainwash you and control you. Get out before it gets worse. These type of men always get worse. He is a user and an abuser. He has you so scared you feel afraid to make a move. Call 18007997233, and they will help you get out. YOU CAN DO IT. You have to get mad. Do not be afraid as that weakens you. He is a BULLY who enjoys hurting others. RUN RUN RUN and fast.

  4. I have been in an abusive relationship for 3 years. He sames me in public, he curses me, he physically hurts me for more than one occassion.

    1. Juana. you deserve to be treated with respect. He will destroy you . He is not worth it. Those type of men always get worse. they have no respect. Call 1800799SAFE. Get out while you still have your sanity. He will hurt you and destroy your life and your soul. He does not care. RUN and dont look back.

  5. I’m in a 2 year relationship. We just had a stillbirth 5 months ago, and we’re supposed to be there for each other. But he has hurt me more than anything ever has before, and I’ve know even tragedy for 10 lifetimes, and I’m only 20 years old. He is degrading, emotional draining, controlling, manipulative, hypocritical, and flat out hurtful beyond belief. He has physically hurt me many times, but only recently did he start punching me in the face. I have received two black eyes, and countless bad bruises. I have been choked and scared so badly that I hyperventilated and passed out. That’s happened a couple times, but the last time I found out that while I was passed out, he had sex with me. Twice! The thing is that I know his heart, and either I am completely brainwashed or he really is oblivious to how badly he hurts me. Because everytime I’m ready to call it quits and think it’s the last straw, he draws me in again. Either by looking me deep in my eyes, and telling me how very sorry he is all while tears of his own are falling down his face, or just holding me caressing me while I cry, or whatever else he does. He is the only arms I want to cry in, and frankly the only ones that make me cry. I’m not a weak person, I’m very strong headed and very aware of myself. I stick up for myself and sometimes wind up into trouble because of it, that’s why I never predicted something like this would happen to me. I NEVER let anyone to tell me to shut up or let anyone disrespect me or call me names, or disrespect my friends or family. But somehow someway my body just eats it when it comes from him. I can leave him I don’t rely on him for anything but the love he actually does give me sometimes. He is very charming and very kind but the mood swings make him evil. I’m not sure how else to really put it. I cannot please him somehow I always end up doing something wrong, I have wanted friends to talk to or even a therapist but there’s always a reason why I shouldn’t go to either of those people. And especially not my family. I know what I have to do to not make him mad, because I get scared when he’s mad, but somehow I still manage to do it. What the hell do i do. How do I find the strength to leave, and please don’t say police, because god knows I’ve heard that enough times.

    1. Hi lane , im 20 as well and im in an abuisve relationship that really sounds identical to yours . if you need someone to talk to im here . i could use someone to talk to about this that understands where im coming from. Its scary how identical our stories are. Heres my email. Banchheee@gmail.com. hope to hear from you.

    2. I’m so sorry Lane. My situation is the same minus the physical abuse and isolation from family and I have a therapist we see. But my opinion is both. You are brainwashed and he is so severely ill that the abuse is so bad you can’t see it. Hope you get the hep you need. Hugs ❤️❤️

    3. Lane, You are brainwashed and he knows that he is hurting you, but he doesn’t care. He is cruel, and vicious and will destroy your soul. he is manipulating you by hurting you then being the one that comforts you. He is causing you to be dependent on him and addicted to him. It is really sick. He will weaken you and drive you crazy while enjoying every minute of this sick little game.. The love he gives is FAKE. Its an act to keep you hooked. He wants to won you and control you. Its very unhealthy and toxic. He is trying to isolate you and get you addicted to him. RUN while you still have a chance.

  6. I’ve been dealing with verbal and emotional abuse which has turned physical. He has manipulated so much. He has been abusing cocaine for awhile now, and recently it has hit a threshold. He’s dillusional, paranoid and violent. He locked my keys and phone away and attempted suffocating, choking me with a belt, took a razor through my head and eyebrows because he was convinced I was plotting against him. He threw my phone out the car window forcing me to his house today. I escaped but I’m terrified. He believes the neighbor is after him too and that people were crawling in the windows. I moved out but I’m terrified he will come after me. I’m too drained and too scared to try to help or pretend this will never happen again, that he loves me. I’m highly educated yet I still allow myself to be brought down. I’ve already had a gun in my mouth; next step is the trigger pulled. I don’t know how to move on and I’m scared to tell family.

    1. You need to get out today. You are very valuable and your life is in danger. Get away and make sure he can’t find you. Please, please go now.

    2. This!! This is kinda what I’m going through. He’s never physically hurt me, but his upbringing was violent! It’s in his genes! I’m scared that if I leave, he will find me and hurt me or my mom (he’s not a fan of hers) or my family. His temper scares the crap out of me! My husband takes Xanax and has dabbled again in H.

  7. I have been with a man for over 10 years. we have 3 boys and i didnt realize until recently i am being emotionally abused, name calling, belittling, im not allowed friends unless he knows them personally, get yelled at for qorkimg and having a career, he tells me.if i go back to school he is going to leave me. i want to lose my baby weight and i want to work out and he gets angry and says I wonder why?. We broke up for 5 months and i met someone else who is wo derful and treats me good. i cut things off to be with my ex and i am wondering if it was a mistake. he says he has changed and he loves me but he still is the same. He recently found out about the man i was with when we were apart and he constantly says snide comments about it and go back to your lover. then tells me he loves me. i am so confused. i earn pretty good money, have a vehicle but little support from family or friends as i have been isolated feom them. we own a home together and he constantly tries kicking me out when he is mad and says if we dont want to be together he will leave. then when it comes time.for him to leave he tells me to get the f*** out. then calls me names. i am so confused and dont know what to do….HELP!!

    1. Becky,
      Some women divorce their husbands then get an order for protection, so that he has to move out of the house. Others just pack up and leave preferring to deal with selling the house, divorce, etc. from another location. Either way you are being mistreated. Love is about respect. People can say anything. Actions speak louder than words. He sounds like an abuser. Abusers do not respect any woman who they are involved with. they are not capable of loving anyone other than themselves.

  8. I am currently being emotional abused. He gets worse when he drinks. Why does he stay with me when he constantly puts me down and hates everything about me? He is a soul sucking vampire he takes all my positive vibes and I feel completely drained I dont have anything else left to offer him. If he was to end it, it would be so much easier, thinking about it makes me feel free. So why can I not say those words and what leassons could I possibly have left to leave?

    1. Cassie, You are being abused. This is the typical way that abusers act. Yes they try to destroy your soul. It is very toxic to your well being. Love yourself enough to get away from this emotional vampire. He will destroy your life!

    1. Ayusha, This is called an addiction. Love yourself enough to get away from him . He will destroy you and your life and call it LOVE. Love is respect.

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