Leaving An Abusive Relationship: Why Can’t I Just Leave?
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
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.
Holly, K. (2014, January 22). Leaving An Abusive Relationship: Why Can’t I Just Leave?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, June 15 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2014/01/why-cant-i-leave-abuse
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
I dont how to get out of this relationship!!!!
I know it's not the comfort of your home. But if you get the protective order, you can ask that he vacates your home so you and your kids can move back in.
Good luck to you and your kids. Just try to keep your head up, you and your kids deserve so much better than that! God bless!
He calls me a stupid b****, dumb wh***, c***, that I "ain't s***" etc. in front of our son and if I ask him to stop saying those things in front of our son his tantrum gets worse and he purposely drops more f bombs in front of him. When we're not arguing, things are calm, he is a great father and sometimes he is nice to me. There are little moments of happiness that I guess I'll have to learn to just enjoy as I can until an opportunity comes where I'm financially and emotionally able to leave.
He swore up and down he was leaving for good this morning, as he usually does when he doesn't get his way. I guess I'll see what he does, as this article says I have no control over his actions anymore.
Thank you <3
Do NOT go back to him. If you do not have a support system please call the national domestic violence hotline- 1800-799-7233.
Ask for help, tell them you need a support group if you have no one.
He is only playing games to satisfy his narcissism. Sending love, and encouragement to leave.
Mandy-- it took me probably 5 or 6 tries to leave my abusive ex. By the end I knew in my heart what I need to do, but god, it was so hard. Getting back together with him was always the best. It was the honeymoon period of relationships over and over. He would treat me so well. For maybe a month....
I'm a drug addict and an alcoholic. I have several years clean now. My abusive ex was also an addict and alcoholic. We would pull each other continuously into our cycles of relapse, drug abuse, getting clean, blaming each other, justifying what we were doing, resenting the other when one of us was sober. In the end how I think of it in my mind is that HE was one of my drugs. My life would be horrible with him, a new low, I would want to die everyday. I would somehow manage the energy to quit him. I would get out, and feel so joyful for a few days! But then after a while, I would only remember all of the good times. I would crave him. I would tell myself it would be different this time.
I had to quit him as I quit any other drug... face the facts: it's the same thing every time, it will NOT get any better, it will lead to pain and suffering. Quit 100% and not leave any little crack for him to get through. The things he told my friends in an attempt to get information to me was astonishing. He tried begging, he tried looking like he was doing well, he tried looking like he was on his deathbed and needed me. In the end the only way I broke it off was by spending several months halfway across the country.
This was almost a year ago. I still crave him. But like any drug, I know it's not worth it. Sometimes I think he will change and we'll be together again someday. Sometimes I genuinely wish he would die and leave this earth.
You ARE in danger and I think you know this. I'm sure your therapist has resources for you. All I can do is say I've been there and share my experience with you. I hope you find a way out of that absolute hell. Nobody can prepare you for that kind of mind messing.
Knowledge is power......let me at that again Knowledge is power. Please read, read, read everything you can get your hands on. Join narcissist groups on Facebook. You are not alone. You are a super wonderful person. Good luck to you and remember read read.
I don't know why I'm still in her condo. She's asleep in the bedroom and I'm on the couch. I love her so much, but it's a one way relationship and that hurts so much. After 16 years of abuse from my dad, the last thing I want is abuse from a spouse... I know what I have to do, but I don't know how to do it...
I'm sorry you're in an abuse relationship as well. It takes a lot of strength and courage to leave, and I do hope and pray that everything for you turns out for the better.
Thank you for your kind words and understanding. In times like this, it means more than gold. Bless you.
My emotions are a mess!