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 19 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2014/01/why-cant-i-leave-abuse
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
I am at a crossroads. Have been in a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship for 20 or so years.
We are separated at the moment (have been for 12 weeks), and he wants me to come home. He is being on his best behaviour but has still been manipulative and threatening.
I recognise he had changed over the years but probably just changed tactics from screaming and throwing things at me to screaming and name calling.
So many different emotions. I realise he has a major personality problem - sees simple things as acts of disrespect. Jealous of me spending time with family, doing things for others, staying up late to make children's birthday cakes etc - efforts which he doesn't feel I make for him. I wonder if it's just the profile of the abuser or if he has an actually personality disorder - do not know. However, he can be so normal most of the times which makes everything so confusing.
I think I have long ignored the issues, denied them due to the confusion and irrationality of some of his ideas and arguments.
Such as not putting hose back in the reel properly seen as a sign of disrespect, me always putting in a half arsed effort. Accidentally leaving the gate open as lacking diligence. Tea bags left in sink as a symbol of being spoilt and my lack of gratitude for what I have been provided. Needing to go to classes to learn organisational skills and needing lessons on phones if I failed to answer my mobile. He has hidden jewellery to teach me a lesson about putting my personal possessions away properly.
During our separation I have stated boundaries which he has broken again but because I work with him in our business and have kids call him regularly, I talk to him about general things and he is fine.
In fact we get along well unless the topic is personal or sensitive which I guess in itself is telling. However it's hard to make that final decision to leave. My gut tells me I don't want to go back because I know that my life won't be fulfilling with him. However, I do love him, even like him at times. I feel a sense of obligation to him. I feel sorry for him and don't want to have my kids for half the time. I also realise i have family support, a place to stay, a career and a need for emotional support. I feel a need to make the right decision now because if I go back, the next time I leave if that's the case, I may not have a place to stay.
I was feeling emotionally drained with his circular arguments and the reality is, He must have a very low opinion of me. I have given too many chances and don't see a future with him. It's also hard to envision a future without.
So difficult to make a decision!!! All advise welcome!
You can deal with the fallout better from a place of safety - or a place more safe than the one you're in. Download the safety plan at the bottom of this page: http://verbalabusejournals.com/how-stop-abuse/safety-planning/
Also, MAKE yourself imagine life without him. Nothing ever stays the same, so no matter how miserable you feel for awhile, you will not feel that way forever. Fast-forward your imagination to the days that are light-hearted and free from abuse. Days where you say what you want and have no fear of retribution. Don't include him in those times - you can't change the way he treats you, so keep him out of your happy place. Simply imagining what life will be like without his hassles and without fear will make you stronger and less tolerant of his behavior in the present.
I have been good at saying we will not bring a child into this mess. He says that is the problem, "If we have a child you will pipe down and focus on this relationship." I have told him that focusing on the relationship to the point I have lost all my friends because I have to cancel plans at the last minute, my friends don't call because they hear you yell on the phone about something I joke about like getting another job (all innocent jokes), or missing work because you think I am going to see a boyfriend...is the problem. I have told him this relationship is to intense. I need a break. I need to have energy to focus on myself and care for myself, write, get my nails done, see my mom. He agrees and then the next day, always less than a 90 minutes after waking-up, I am apologizing and exhausted for something. I do totally own that I start some of our fights, slamming down the toliet seat, saying something passive aggressive. My frustration, he does not see his role at all. He says it is me, I have destroyed him, I am the abuser. I have accepted that. I do control the money I earn in that it is deposited in my bank account. But whatever he asks for he gets for the most part. There is always cash on the dresser for him and he does not pay any bills. I accept that means I control the money. I do not feel that is me being abusive. it is not my fault he does not want to wrk, clear his child custody debt so he can have a bank account, or be trusted to pay the bills rather than lose money or randomly spend it on junk such as weed, bowling, clothiers, over electricity, phone, rent. I agree I have thrown things. I accept that I am in control of my behavior and am extremely angry that I go in my room and throw things. Never at him, only when alone, but a loss of control none-the-less and intimidating. I have told him we are toxic. I need a break, I do not like myself this way. He says he has no options to leave. I tell him I will pay alimony, he says he is not interested in my money. I have to find the courage to make my heart/mind accept none of this is acceptable and that someday, I will be happy.
You need first define the reasons you are really scared, and take the right action for each fear.
Fear #1 Physical abuse? google search shelter for abused women, and you will find an ocean of options. Don't leave and tell him you are leaving if he is abusive. Seek help, they will give you great suggestions
Fear #2 Financial instability (How will I support myself) Many of the same shelters will help you find job placement, and often times provide you shelter until you become financially stable.
Fear #3 Are you taking responsibility for your actions? Many of us that have felt stuck in a relationship is because we don't do the inner work. As a result the outer world sucks, and those closes to us, suck more. Many of us at one point or another, rather blame those for the way we feel, and when in reality the only ones that can make a difference about the way we feel, is ourselves. If you are one of these people (very common), it doesn't matter who you put in the picture, since the picture more or less will look and feel the same. We all need to do inner work, and the result of that is satisfaction. A satisfaction that no outer person can ever fulfill. My best advise for this symptom, or best antidote, is:
1. Take responsibility for your contributions-positive/negative?
2. Be diligent in doing your homework to make your life the way you want it, and stop depending on anyone to do the work for you.
By the way, I am a man that has been in a negative and abusive relationship. The one thing that gave me the most strength to free myself from a life that was way below my standard of basic peace and joy, was to take full responsibility for my actions, words, and the way I personally responded to negative attacks from my ex. I realized that I was in many way like my ex, and that the only way for things to change, was for me to change. If I changed and became a better person, than I would have the confidence and desire to demand more out of life and my significant other. If you fail to take responsibility, you are more likely to be stuck for a while longer if you know what I mean. Imagine, If you cannot get yourself to change, what do you think the chances are, you will get someone you don't have 100% control of to change? Underneath all the smoke of frustration, expecting the other person to change is the same as wishful thinking. Also, let's not forget laziness is a human natural trait- a path of least resistance. Change also comes with discomfort and additional work. Many of us are lazy and prefer to put up with a lesser life, than getting off our butts and change our diet, start working out, become more discipline, not fighting back and instead use that time and energy on something more productive to our own lives, or of our children's lives. Let's also ask ourselves how selfish we are...Do I expect the other person to act and behave in a way that accommodates my feelings ONLY, independently of how miserable this other person may feel in the process? Again, your inner works will help you answer that question. Good luck to you. I recommend watching Dr. Louis Hay on youtube. You will love her. Best of luck.
I feel you describe me in this article - I'm independently financially secure but can't seem to leave. I'm fearful of being alone - and knowing eventually I will likely see my young children with another woman.
I won't bore with details but this was refreshing to see I'm not the only one and maybe one day I will find the courage to walk away. I don't want to be the 70
Year old who one day looks back and realizes it's too late - or worse not make it to 70 as a result of violence.
Thank you again for the post.
Your confusion is a part of the process, so don't worry about being confused. No one's world stays upright when they discover the one they love is a manipulating, controlling, abusive jerk. It's entirely upsetting. But you will regain your balance soon. In the meantime, keep educating yourself about abuse.
Use the NDVH to find out where you can meet with other domestic violence victims, then go to the meetings. If you can, go to a therapist versed in abusive relationships. At least tell your doctor what's going on so he or she can set you on the appropriate path. Those three actions are the beginning of a support system.
Don't trust any of his friends or their spouses with what you know. You have the opportunity to keep your partner in the dark for a while as you regain your footing.
And fill out this safety plan: http://verbalabusejournals.com/how-stop-abuse/safety-planning/ (scroll to the bottom, download it for free)
Those steps are a good start to unraveling your confusion.
Besides doing that, you can join the boards at verbalabuse.com, Patricia Evans' website. The boards are ultra-secure, and you must make a phone call to register for them. Her message board helped me A LOT.
Sorry if I repeated anything I am pretty mentally drained right now.
I would like some advice but I wont expect much as you say that it's okay for someone being abused to stay, which isn't true it just means they will continue hating themselves more and more until it becomes impossible (which is the point i fear my mum is at)
Also to Janel if you truly care about your son trust me you must leave, go to your parents get back on your feet and claim back your life. As someone who has grown up from the the age of 10 in an abusive household i can tell you it will affect your son and since I assume he is younger i believe it will affect him a lot more than it has me. worst case scenario you and him could end up dead but the most likely scenario is he will grow up thinking that it's a normal relationship.
I am happy to see your comment. You sound like a bright and articulate young man. I am so sorry that you've lived in this mess for so long, and I'm sorry you can't get away on a regular basis anymore. Three years straight is a horribly long time to live with the kind of pressure you feel.
Unfortunately, the first thing to do on my "how to help an abuse victim" list is to take care of yourself first. You cannot make her leave. Yes, it's been 8 years and she's sustaining damage. But so are you. If there's anyway you can leave and attend college elsewhere or stay with friends or family, that would be the best thing you could do.
You see, right now, your mother feels that she has nowhere to go if she were to consider leaving. If you show her it can be done, and eventually have your own place, she will have a viable option. (She has options now, but she's not using them because she's afraid or can't see them.) But you leaving, and telling her why, COULD open the door for her to consider leaving, too.
And if it doesn't? You'll have a safe place to build your self up. There's nothing you can do if you're broken down, too. At worst, you could end up in a physically violent situation with her partner and be hurt badly or killed.
yes, I know this is what you fear for your mom. But by you taking care of yourself, she has someone to call. Someone to come get her.
If you can't leave or cannot bear the thought of leaving, it's time to involve a trusted adult in your situation. Talk to a teacher, counselor, friend's parent, someone outside your home. Trust is tricky, but keep trying and you'll find the right person. You need diversion and solid advice from someone you trust.
First, contact the NDVH at http://thehotline.org. They can offer help and support any time you want to talk.
Secondly, download this safety plan: http://goo.gl/v6azzS Scroll to the bottom of the page to download it for free. Fill it out for YOURSELF.
Then, read "How to Help an Abuse Victim Escape" at http://goo.gl/fGrQnH
Your lifeline is the NDVH and confiding in a trustworthy adult. You need to build a support system, and that is where to start.
Trust me, this man has it all figured out. He is not helpless. Anger does not prevent him from thinking. If you must, pay the rent when it's due and then leave. He'll have a month to figure it out.
I can't tell you when you will be ready to stop excusing his behavior. I can't tell you when you'll be ready to save yourself and your son from the abuse. I can tell you that as your son gets older, and makes his own opinion on things, his father will beat him, too. I can also predict a day when your son uses his father's tactics on you. I can practically picture your abuser smiling as your son knocks you to the floor.
Reach out to local domestic violence organizations who can help you see the truth of this situation. But don't wait too long to go, and don't give him any clue that you're leaving. Your life is literally in the balance, and that means your son's life is, too.
I have a daughter who is in an mentally and emotional abusive marriage and I don't know how to help. She has a depression disorder and I'm really concerned about her. I would like to talk with someone and get some advice. I know that she has to get out of it on her own but, I would like some information. Could you email a number or email address that I can call or mail? thank you!
He has always hit me, beat me, stomped on my face with his shoe on, made me literally almost drowned in my own blood coming from my mouth, made my nose bleed hundreds of times, broke my nose, and gave me multiple concussions and the list goes on. He's a meth addict and anything he can get his hands on. He's cheated on me multiple times I’m sure a lot more than I know of. he's been controlling from the beginning, at first it was just controlling what I wear but as the relationship got more serious he got more and more controlling.
Then after we had our 1st kid he started to hit me, then it just got worse, he always accused me of cheating 24/7, then I had 2 more kids by him. after our third kid came, I was in the hospital having my baby, he accused the doctors of trying to do sexual things to me, I was so embarrassed, he demanded us to get a woman doctor but there was none at the time, I was in so much pain I didn't care I just wanted the baby out. But I got called a whore for that.
That happened every time I had a baby. He actually beat me in the hospital a day after I had my baby, that was a very horrible experience. after that my baby was about 6 months old, in January 2016 he accused me of cheating again. He was up for 7 days off of meth, I was 4 months pregnant at the time, he beat me with a broom, threw glass at me, choked me until I saw stars, beat me into a concussion, then that night I called the cops when he wasn't looking which was hard. They took him to jail, I moved in with a friend with my 3 kids, we stayed there for a while, then I finally got into my own place, all of that was to leave him but I let him move in with me because I love him and he’s the father of my 3 kids and I’m pregnant with his 4th child.
But then again he beats me still, he of course promised it would never happen again but I know better.
My mother was diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2016, so I’ve helped her, but he keeps me away from her when I want to just help her and spend time with her, and the kids wanted to see her, I didn't know how long she had. on June 6th 2016 my mother ended up in the hospital they said her lung collapsed and the cancer spread so fast she isn't going to make it out of the hospital. Me, him, my kids, my brother went up there to say goodbye, she was on the ventilator and we decided it would be best to take her off, so we did that.
He was waiting in the lobby because my mother hated him and always have because she knew what he does to me. after an hour he came in asking how much longer is this going to take, it was so disrespectful, he just left, he went home. so when my mother finally passed it was hard and I had no ride and 3 kids, I had to call a friend to drop us off at home. I was so hurt by that because my mother was dying.
Only a week or 2 after that another fight had happened. He was on meth accusing me of stuff again, I told myself ok here we go AGAIN. I was pissed I have been planning to leave for a while but I had no good way, I have no job, no, money, 3 kids because I will not leave them behind, he’s not a great father. I had a car but payments are due and he's the one with the full time job. Plus, I would have nowhere to go. That morning on June 14th which is my son's 1st birthday. We did not celebrate because he was busy beating me to death that day and night. I lost a lot of blood, suffered a concussion, needed stitches, half my hair was pulled out by him, blood was gushing from my face he kept me hostage, I ran out at one point running down the street yelling for help, my neighbors didn't care they were outside and never called the cops. Worst day of my life but then the best day, because when he finally went to sleep that night I called the cops on a non-active phone because he took my phone so I couldn't call the cops. He didn't know I had this one.
They came they arrested him, then I went to the hospital to get treated, the Hope House lady came to help me with the kids as I was getting treated. I got an immediate restraining order on him, his bond is 40k and they are not going to lower it, he has 4 charges 3 assault charges and 1 felonious restraint charge for keeping help hostage in the house. I went straight to the Hope House after that, I stayed there for 2 weeks, then his dad and wife asked me to stay with them, his whole family is on my side about the whole thing, they are even making me testify against him as one of the conditions for staying with them.
I hope to have a better life and get my stuff together for my kids. This is my story; I hope this helps someone. Please leave, that's the best for everyone. I have a go find me account for my situation, I’m still taking it day by day, some days I miss him and some days I’m like why did I stay. But I’m doing everything I have to do, I am not going back. The detective even told me he has other pending charges for stabbing a guy, and shooting a guy, he will be charged with attempted murder if he is found guilty. So I think every domestic violence case is worse than you think behind the scenes.
[Please contact Ashley by clicking on her name if you want to know the link to her gofundme account.]
If you happen to be taking a chemo treatment, you could open up to the nurse/doctor and receive some advice. They can't tell him or anyone else what you say unless it's suicidal or homicidal.
One thing my boyfriend constantly says is: I have to yell at you because you don't listen to me!!!
He puts me down, puts my co-workers down, mocks me, and anything I hold close/dear to me. I won't go into detail as my boyfriend of 4+ years is seeming to be textbook.
Men who choke their partners are VERY likely to kill them. So, if you cannot find it in you to leave THIS MINUTE, visit http://thehotline.org and chat or call them. Here's a safety plan (scroll to bottom of page): http://verbalabusejournals.com/how-stop-abuse/safety-planning/
. I wanna escape.. But when I'm away from him.. I feel so lost. I'm so broken. Please help..
When he found out about the affair he left me. I'm still with the married man. His wife knew. We were good friends. She had been sick for a very long time. She had cardiovascular disease. Well last year she was put on hospice. After about 4 months she asked me to sit and take care of her while he worked. She forgave both of us. I was really a horrible person to do that because she was a very loving and caring person.
After sitting with her for 6 months she passed away. Which was almost 3 months ago.
Anyways he promised me the whole time that when she passed we would have our life together. Well I messed up about 5yr ago. I had his name tattooed on my lower back. I ended up having sex with the guy that did my tattoo. Of course he found out. I was called a whore every day for 4yrs. It was thrown in my face EVERY TIME I LEFT THE HOUSE. He started harassing me every day. He would call me . If I went to the bathroom and left my phone in the kitchen, I was screwing someone. He would call like 27 times. I told him I can't even take a bath without being called. We lived 600 feet from each other so of course he watched who came to my house even at night. He would creep around my house all hours of the night.
Well since his wife is gone he now says he never promisedid me a thing. He want to be alone. He doesn't want a relationship. He has emotionally abused me and has put me down. I've cried every day. I'm staying with him but we're not in a relationship. I cook,clean,wash his uniformson for work. Everything. I feel so stupid for doing this. If go back to my house the crap will keep getting worse.
Last month he kept telling me if I didn't like something I could pack my clothes and go back home. I had enough. I reached my breaking point. I took 14 tramadol and 27 elevil. I told him what I did and he told me you better go home and get your son to call an ambulance cause I wasn't gonna die at his house. I told my son what I did. I tried to throw up but I couldn't. The muscles in my throat numbed my gag reflect. They called 911. The last thing I remember was seeing my son's friend that's with fire and rescue. On the way to the hospital, which is lik25 miles from my house is stopped breathing. 6 miles up the road in was air lifted to the hospital. I was seizing and was put on life support. I was in ICU for five days. After 3 days they took the breathing tube out. Well he showed up on the 4th day. I woke up and saw him standing there. The only thing he toldme was when I get home we had to talk. We did and I've been staying with him ever since. I've went home 3 times and came back.one dynamic is perfect and I'm happy, the next he talks to me like a dog and humiliates me. I cry and cry. He says I'm trying to force myself on him and I'm too clingy. Really? For 6 years I was harassed day and night by this man and now he doesn't love me. We sleep in the same bed. Have sex. He doesn't kiss me or shows no emotions towards me.
He says that he doesn't have to answer to no one. Anything he does isn't none of my business. But EVERY THING I DO IS HIS.
I've wanted out so much but haven't gotten out yet.I have no idea why I stay. My kids can't stand him and tell me I'm stupid for being with him. I think soon enough I won't be able to take the abuse and wash my hands to him. I want to be happy. I will be one day. I have to believe Jesus is gonna give me a new beginning.