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, August 21 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2014/01/why-cant-i-leave-abuse
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
No love, caring or empathy for me, feel abonded despite me meeting all his needs and living him.
To me, this is my first step - to try and regain a grasp of reality. Thank you.
During the abuse the most support,kindness,understanding and validation has always come from complete strangers,never someone close. That disturbs me more than the abuse.
I just read your encouragement to Karen I believe. I was finally discarded by a female of 27 years of which 2 years we were married grade school teacher if you can believe that. It's been 3 months and absolute no contact all blocked as well. I want to share this with you and anyone else. After weeks of sharing with God I was totally list in life and that I knew I would not make it unless he gave me strength to go on and that I knew for certain I did not at all understand my life of 27 years etc. One day while I was sitting and spaced out should I say I was for certain out of no where to get up and search personality disorders. Well guess what the second one was an absolute lightning rod hit. Absolutely I was abused by a high intense toxic NARCISSIST. I wss the perfect fuel candidate broken down and off the squirrel cage action. All used up and tired. Trana ond and I was worked down to a weak codependent and the beat went on. No human being should be allowed to treat anyone in this manner. I have successfully managed my life long depression but... now I am seeing a psychologist and after total clarity dismayed to put it lightly and trying to pick up some pieces. I feel being able to be a part of a group session healing from the NARC would be beneficial and I could actually see and listen to others like myself. There are for certain no NARC recovery sessions in the state of Indiana. Thank you for listening my best to everyone please.
You are exactly so correct and kind to post this information. I lost 27 years to this nonsense abuse only been out and totally awake 3 months. Lots of wisdom in you post. Best wishes to all victims never again will i be fooled.
Narcs only view people as things that they place into different boxes for future fuel and use. NARC is a first cousin to a Psychopath in medical terms. I just spent and lost 37 years of my life now I'm gone and blocked its been 3 months. These people will suck a person dry without even looking back. Get help and get out
My point is i know right from wrong i know my main job is to protect my children and i deserve to be happy i know that he will never change, i know that it will only get worse maybe even physical or even worse, sometime i even sit and think that my kids are what keeps me from wanting the pain to stop so bad that suicide comes to mind just to stop the pain but i tell myself i would never leave my kids.i think that im a horrible broken person just to think about it. am i suicidal i want to say no because i love my kids to much to leave them alone, but am i ? l yeah i know what your thinking but "ill let my kids suffer instead" sometimes i feel like im the one that has something wrong with them, who am i kidding i know i do.
My point im trying to make is why cant i leave when i know all that i know and feel all that i feel and see all that see. I have been repeatedly lied to, cheated on and have had my home taken slept in my car one night cause i was homeless had to have my kids to stay at my mothers for 6 months while i struggled to find us a home and yes that tore my children apart and myself. i have lost my family that was always their but have now turned their backs. I have thought that my love was stronger than any drug he always chose over me. the stealing the he can never keep a job and so much more but to him its all my fault one way or another he turns it all on me. he has seen so many of my tears, and pleas that i know they are just a bother to him like hear we go again. i have been manipulated. Sometimes i even ask my self maybe i didnt really see or hear that, when he looks me in my face and denies what im confronting him about i could have the proof in my hands and he will still try to manipulate my black and white evidence, maybe it is really my fault he treats me this was actually i know it is my fault because i let him, why? just to go through it all again with him. I know my kids and self would be much happier and healthier living in some crappy little shack struggling to get by without the pain he causes, so why am i still here!
I wish you all the strength in the world in whatever you choose to do. I feel more empowered by reading other peoples stories, that I'm not alone. I've also started picturing myself in my own place, the powers of attraction, ?
Stay strong and try and find someone from your local womens aid/shelter who can give you concrete advice. The more information we have the stronger we become. Is è ar n-am anois (Scots Gaidhlig fir 'our time is now '
Perhaps you will read my posts I plac ed here today. You are only fooling yourself and have become codependent and you have a trans bond. This is reality I lost 27 years and she is a 5th grade teacher if you can believe that. Take care of YOU no one else will.
Yes that is very normal. All abuse survivors know exactly what you describe. One way a abuser makes you stay is by making you feel guilty for wanting end the relationship. I've been been there. This my experience. The guilt you feel comes from grieving process, a process you may be suppressing. You're staying in a relationship that is already over for you. But because you don't leave, and there are other thing that make leaving hard you to leave. You feel like you're lying all the time.
In my case trauma bond. Fear of what she might do if I try to leave. Fear I might lose my kids. So much fear. Then on top of social constructs of marriage. Vows until death do us part. The abuse also keeps me there. The guilt leveled on me. "Why are you doing this to the kids". So much guilt leveled on me. The attacks at my confidence and the financial abuse. Make it really hard to leave. I did though. I left, my daughter just gave me the biggest hug. She never said a word. She didn't even tell her mom I had left. She knows. They've seen it so often. I'm out 4 day now. It's hard you will feel that guilt. But it's not about you bf, it's about you.