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 16 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2014/01/why-cant-i-leave-abuse
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
Well done for reaching out to others on this site. But I have to say in this instance, however brave you are for sharing your story, it's not enough to keep you safe. What you need is practical help to get you and your daughter out of immediate danger. Then you will need emotional guidance on how to cope with the after-effects of abuse and remain safe. There are tonnes of resources for this, and the HealthyPlace site is a wonderful resource.
Please call one of these helplines straight away.
Domestic Violence Hotline:
800-799-7233 (If you live in the US)
The National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 (UK).
Both numbers should be manned 24 hours a day. If you live elsewhere, a quick Google search will point you towards an organization in your area. You can go to a friend's or ask your mum to contact them for you if you're worried about your partner finding out. But please get the help you need. If you consider yourself or your daughter in immediate danger, I strongly advise calling the police. They will deal with everything else and make sure you are safe, but please let them help you. If not only for yourself, for your child too. You will get through this.
Good luck and big hug, Emma x
Firstly, well done for reaching out with this post. It can be difficult to admit to being in a relationship like this, so you've conquered the first step to getting help. It's also difficult to define abuse from a partner, particularly as this sort of behavior tends to creep into a relationship over time. As you've said, it's not always as easy as broaching the subject with a significant other, and it sounds like your husband is struggling with his physical health and reliance on medication. His paranoia could be drug-induced, or it could be that his situation has left him feeling so out of control that he needs to feel like he has some control over something in his life: this something being you.
I suppose the question to ask is, do YOU feel he isolates you from others? Or has this occurred over time because of his dependence on you? One thing I know for sure is that severing your connections with others will only exasperate your feelings of being trapped by this situation, so its important to reach out when you can.
The first thing I would recommend is to contact a counsellor or therapist who is specially trained to deal with drug abuse and marriage problems. I think seeing someone on your own so you have the space and time to explore your own feelings would be sensible. Is there a trusted co-worker you can confide in about what's happening at home, or your mum perhaps? By confiding in others, you'll become less isolated and you will have somewhere to turn should his behavior worsen.
Lastly, if his behavior becomes nasty or abusive, or if he is violent towards you, please contact a <a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">domestic violence helpline</a> for support.
Thank you for your comment on this post. I'm so sorry to hear about what you're going through. I understand better than most how living with an abuser can make you feel suicidal (you can read my story <a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2017/06/introduction-to-emma-marie-smith/" target="_blank">here</a>), but let me tell you: if you can find a way to come out the other side of your experience and rediscover your independence, you will be glad you didn't act on these feelings. Please consider talking to someone about what you're going through. There are counselors and therapists who are specially trained to help victims of domestic abuse. Alternatively, you could contact one of the helplines on our <a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">Help and Resources</a> page, particularly if you feel acutely suicidal. These are people who can help you when you don't know where else to turn.
Know that you are not alone in how you feel, and keep speaking out about your struggles and using this site for support. By connecting with others and uniting against abuse, you can lessen your abuser's control over you. Also, it's never too late to leave. It's never too late to break free from the shackles of abuse. I wish you all the best.
Well, I left and initially we exchanged text messages and I let him know I cared much for him and he said likewise to me the lovely messages when on for three days and than he stopped writing. It's the weekend so I guess he's out fishing. It hurts to know that his so called love lasted two days after I left he could really care less and he's showing it.
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.
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.