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 hope you are OK. I'm Emma-Marie, author of the <a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2017/06/introduction-to-emma-marie-smith/" target="_blank">Verbal Abuse in Relationships blog</a> for HealthyPlace, and I am thinking you might find some of my articles helpful. The blog draws on my personal experience of what you're describing and hopefully provides insight and furthers understanding of domestic abuse as a whole.
If you're in need of more immediate help, please consider calling the Domestic Abuse hotline, the details of which can be found on our <a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">resources page</a>.
Please know that I hear you. I am with you, as are many others in this online community. We know that emotional abuse can hurt just as much as physical abuse, and we know what it's like to be utterly dependent on the person who inflicts that pain. You will come out the other side if you really want to.
Stay strong. Emma x
Daughter again...Believe Me, Please...I Pray For You Right Now!!!
I'm 51 yr s old My grown children moved to other states My Husband gets furious if I call or try to go out with my sisters I don't go because I think to myself it's not worth the argument.Here I am talking to strangers about my problems and feel hopeless. The worst part about all this is I don't drive I can't find a job bc I have nt worked in yrs do to raising family disability etc I wake up every day with a positive attitude but as the day goes on it grows weaker. To boot all one of my sisters just passed away My husband refused to go to funeral because he doesn't get along with my sisters
He got upset with me the other day because I spent $35 on my dog He has allergies he needed Medicine the poor thing was itching so bad it's all I have left
Everything of importance in my wallet. When I do actually pack my stuff and leave, somehow he pursuades me into coming back with the I'm sorrys and I love yous... Help me I need to get away!
I'm still struggling everyday and have a hard time moving on without thinking of him every single day
I'm driving a therapist ever since I started dating him.Im confused battered verbally,emotionally and physically.Nothing I do is right .I lost my self esteem, my self confidence and self respect .I didn't no who I was anymore .I work in healthcare setting and no matter what professional you're in there's no immunity when your heart rules your head .I lost my self .Please get some help , Donestic violence support group in your area and see a therapist .You have to sever your ties .Its very hard but the pain is only temporary but staying with him gives you more intense pain emotionally and the abuse will never end .
Thank you for your comment and well done for sharing your story with us.
The relationship you're describing sounds very unhealthy. Know that no matter how many people you've slept with, you still deserve to be treated with respect. Nobody deserves to be called those things -- especially by somebody who is supposed to love and care for them.
When we're in a relationship with someone who fails to understand us, we often end up feeling more alone than if were single. This was certainly true of <a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2017/06/introduction-to-emma-marie-smith/" target="_blank">my experience</a>. I too felt "dead" and ashamed of who I was. I also withdrew from friends and family.
It doesn't have to be like this though. I am worried for your emotional and physical well-being if you stay in this relationship. You're absolutely right in that emotional abuse is often one of the first signs that a relationship will become physically abusive down the line.
I know you feel trapped, but trust me when I say there is a better life out there for you than this. It won't be easy to leave, but if you stay the abuse is only likely to get worse. You might find it helpful the call the Domestic Violence Helpline, which can be found 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 page</a>
Good luck, and know that you're not alone in this. Big hugs, Emma-Marie xxx