Reasons Why Victims Of Domestic Violence Don’t “Just Leave”
Last week my boyfriend and I were watching reruns of ER on Hulu. We like shows we can just have on in the background while we play on our phones. It’s how we do romance. We are both introverts and don’t need a lot of stimulation from the other. It works.
Anyway, on the episode we were watching, the nurse, Abbie, had a neighbor couple where the wife was being beaten by her husband. Abbie tried to step in to help but she ended up being attacked by the male neighbor.
My boyfriend said, without thinking,
“Why do women stay with a guy like that? Why stick around?”
I just looked at him.
Then he realized what he was saying. He knows my story. He knows what I’ve been through. He knew what I had to do to get out. But it seems simple. A guy is hitting you? A guy is treating you like crap? Just leave!
That does seem like a simple solution, doesn’t it? But, you see, it isn’t that simple. It’s actually very hard to “just leave”. I spent almost 8 years of my life trying to leave. I got lucky. I’m lucky I had the resources I had to leave. I’m lucky I found the strength to leave.
The First Signs Are Hard To See
Abusive relationships don’t start out with one person beating the other. Of course they don’t. It’s something that develops over time. The abuser showers the victim with love and attention at first, never showing the dark side underneath. They seem like the perfect guy. A dream come true.
Those little things that he does seem like he just really, really loves you. He wants you to himself so he doesn’t want you going out with your friends. That jealousy is just a sign of how much you mean to him. He starts removing important people, one by one, from your life. Soon it’s just you and him.
When the first blow is received (either verbal or physical), it’s a shock. No way he could have just done that. No, that was a mistake. I was kinda asking for it, probably.
He’s super apologetic and promises it will never happen again. But it does. And then it becomes normal. And now I’m trapped in this relationship and I’m so pissed at myself that I am letting it happen. I won’t admit it to anyone.
Who wants to admit that they are being abused? Who wants to admit that they are letting themselves be controlled like that? Nobody. Nobody wants to look weak. I’m not the type of women to let someone treat me like that, yet here I was.
It’s embarrassing. Why else would I cover up my black eyes with make up? Why would I wear long pants in summer to cover my bruises? Because I didn’t want people to know what was going on. I didn’t want them to think of me as weak. Plus, he’s a “nice guy”. Who would believe me?
He’s Cut Me Off From The World
Even if I wanted to get out, all my friends are gone. He made sure of that. So who can I turn to for help? Nobody. I’m alone and facing this on my own. There’s nobody for me to talk to.
In my case, he didn’t allow me to talk to my family. He checked my phone, my email, and intercepted any mail I got from them. He would pretend to be me through my email and let them know why “I” wasn’t speaking to them anymore.
And I couldn’t do anything about it. Not if I wanted to keep the peace.
Where Will I Go?
Even if I wanted to leave, where would I go? A battered women’s shelter? No, he’ll find me there and then there will be hell to pay. He knows where I work, he’ll go there. There’s no way out.
I could have called my family but keep in mind I was living in Canada and my family was in Colorado. How was I supposed to get to them? How could I work out the details when he checked my phone all the time?
I could go to a friend’s house. But I don’t have any friends. He makes sure of that.
Hotel? No money. He controls that too.
There are no options.
I once tried to leave, early on. We were having a fight and I ran to the computer to try to book a ticket home. He grabbed me off the chair and threw me against the stairs.
My head hit the stairs that were behind the chair. I had a huge, bleeding gash on my head. He wouldn’t let me go to the hospital because HE didn’t want to get into trouble with the law.
I still have that scar on the back of my head. It’s pretty big. I shave my head and it’s noticeable. But I’m not ashamed of it. It just reminds me how strong I came to be.
So, clearly trying to get away with him around wasn’t going to work. He’d block me if it seemed like I was going anywhere besides the grocery store or for a walk.
If it seemed like there was any indication I was going to be gone for good, he’d make sure I didn’t get out of the house.
As it has been talked about above, I had no money. He controlled it. All of my paycheck would go into his bank account. I didn’t make much money anyway for a long time. My name wasn’t on the account.
I was only allowed to have his bank card when I went to the grocery store. Then he would check the balance when I got home. There could be no way I could put money away to get enough to get out.
A Shell of Myself
I was so worn down by him that I couldn’t formulate a plan on how to leave. I couldn’t think of how to get the money to get out of there. I couldn’t think of where to go. I couldn’t focus enough to come up with a plan.
I’m a smart, resourceful woman. I should have been able to think of a way. But I couldn’t.
So I just kept going, not really even living, just being alive and trying to stay that way.
So, How DID I get out?
It was a lot of strength and a lot of luck.
He made a mistake. He encouraged me to go to school to become a nurse. It was a selfish thing on his part. He wanted me to make more money so nursing was a good way to do that.
I made friends in school (he allowed me to talk to them as long as he could read our conversations) and after I got a nursing job, I made friends at work.
I’ll never forget the support I got from these women. Nurses are bad ass bitches, don’t mess with them.
Deciding It Was Time To Leave
I opened up to one of my friends one day. After I unloaded all of what was going on she said,
“I love you and I will miss you so much. But if you don’t leave him by the end of the year, I can’t be your friend anymore. That’s not the Jessica I know. You’re better than this.”
And she was right. I was better than this. I didn’t deserve this. There was more to life than this. Within 9 months from that conversation with my friend, I was back in the United States. I was FREE!
I knew this would take a lot of planning on my part. I had to know what to do after I walked out that door.
I had to be ready to leave without anything from my home. All I could take was my purse. Otherwise he would know I was going somewhere. If I had bags packed, he’d know.
There had to be enough money in the account to allow me to leave. I knew how much I made and how much I was getting paid. I picked up any extra nursing shifts I could get and never touched the money.
I was going to take his card and clear out the account after I left. There was over $7,000 in there. At least $5,000 of it was MY money because I was the one that earned it by working 7 days a week.
I knew a time would come when he would beat me again. I just had to wait for that time to leave. It would have to be what gave me the push to get out of there.
Of course, that day came. Of course it did. Did you think he was going to suddenly stop after 8 years? Hell no, he wasn’t.
It was Canada Day (Canada’s independence day) and he came home from work and found me on the computer. He didn’t like me using the computer because I could talk to people and he couldn’t monitor it.
He was pretty pissed. And he was pissed that I hadn’t made plans for Canada Day. Why that made him mad, I can’t really explain. He had his reasons I’m sure.
The fight escalated. He threw a chair at me and it broke against the wall. He threw me to the ground and started choking me,
“This is it. This is the last time he will ever touch me. I’m leaving.”
I had this thought in my head the entire time he was choking me. Afterwards, he apologized and tried to make it better. Things settled down for the night and I made him think I was OK with what just happened.
But I wasn’t. I still knew I was out of there.
“I just need to go for a walk and clear my head. Do you mind if I pick up some ice cream?”
I got the bank card and my purse and went for a “walk”. I never went back. I walked around, went to get some ice cream, then walked to a motel down the street.
He was blowing up my phone. I did answer once. He begged me to come home. I started walking that way then he screamed at me for something so I hung up and walked toward the motel instead.
I never saw him or talked to him again.
I did get a chance to go back to my apartment and get some of my stuff. I had to make it quick though because he was at work and could come back at any time.
I got about 2 duffel bags worth of my belongings and that’s it. I left so much behind. But that could all be replaced. My life couldn’t.
That all happened July 1, 2009. I still remember the day. By January 2010, I was back in Colorado. Between that time, I still worked my nursing job and I found my own apartment. I saved enough and finally came home.
The nightmare was over.
It’s Not Easy To “Just Leave”
How would you escape a situation where someone had a gun to your head and was watching your every move?
What would your plan be?
Would you just get up and try to walk away?
Would you fight the person with the gun even though you don’t have a gun?
Where are you going to go after you get out?
What’s the plan?
What would you do?
You’re not going to get out by just standing up and walking away. You’re not going to have much luck fighting someone with a weapon. You don’t know where to run. You can’t possibly get out without some help and a plan.
Victims Shouldn’t Be Blamed
So why are you telling a woman to “just leave” in this situation? Why are you acting like she is the one to blame because she sticks around? Do you know how hard it is to “just leave” this nightmare? It’s nearly impossible.
Those that get out, get out with sheer luck and a lot of strength. They deserve a medal for their bravery.
Don’t blame the victim, blame the man that is hurting her.