Why Don’t You Just Leave?
When it comes to domestic violence, and other forms of abuse in the home, if you know or suspect someone is experiencing it, please address it. However, please be well informed before you do. What you say and how you say it is paramount.
Asking someone who is is a victim of domestic violence, why they don’t just leave, can be one of the most painful, insensitive, and important questions they’ll hear. I’ll insert that old cliché, “until you walk a mile in someone else’s shoes,” it’s best not to assume that someone can “just leave,” even though you know that leaving is likely the best solution to getting that person to safety.
Don’t Ask. Affirm!
A better way of addressing it might avoid asking questions altogether. Profess a confident, genuine appeal. Aim to affirm their worth by listening, and lifting them up in Spirit. Confirm their ability to do the right thing in their situation.
You might say; “I’m worried or concerned about you”, or, “I’m concerned for you and your children.” Remind them that there is help available to get them out of the situation safely. However, beware! People living in abusive relationships are often living in denial, and they may not welcome your advice. If this happens, GIVE IT ANYWAY, with love and persistence.
Breaking Down Denial
Most often no matter who is addressing the subject—if the victim doesn’t deny the abuse is happening—their response might include the following:
“I can’t leave because of the children.” “It’s my own fault.” “I can’t leave because I love him.” “I can’t leave because I can’t afford to; or, because he needs me; he’ll change soon; because he’ll just get angrier and come after me; he won’t let me go; because I have nowhere else to go; I’ll never find someone else; because, because, because!”
Has someone given you any of these reasons for why they don’t leave? I’ll share more insight into the mind of the abused as I address the victim in the following paragraphs.
If you are living in an abusive relationship, and you’ve given any of the answers listed above, I want you to know that I completely understand how you feel. I’ve said some of them myself.
So I’ll also add that I know you have it in you to break the chain that binds you to your abuser. If you don’t break that chain, you (and your children if applicable) are highly likely to become scarred and damaged for the rest of your lives, and with a good chance of carrying it forward. It is possible that your children can become abusers, or accept abuse, while you allow yourself to be abused. This is tough, real stuff. I’m sorry that it bites, but this biting truth can actually help set you free.
I grew up in a home where alcohol wreaked havoc on my family, including verbal and physical violence between my parents. Even though I know they loved each other the best and the only way they knew how, it was seriously flawed, due in large part to alcoholism.
Witnessing verbal and/or physical violence between your parents as a child; renders an unerasable impression in the mind and in the heart. The sheer horror of watching that violence occur—but not only watching it, getting involved by trying to physically break them apart, had a long-lasting, dysfunctional impression on my being.
When I witnessed the violence, I knew it was wrong, but I didn’t truly understand that it wasn’t normal. I did what most kids do when they grow up. I said, “I’ll never act like my parents. I’ll never do what they did. I’ll never allow that to happen in my life!” Since then, I’ve come to learn never to say never.
It happened later in life when I was caught in a terrible grip of codependency. There I sat in an emergency room, denying and lying about how I received the physical damage that led me there. I even signed a document stating that it wasn’t caused by domestic violence.
The emergency room staff saw the truth but I denied it. The darkest moment in that situation for me wasn’t the actual physical abuse, it was my denial of it. Then making excuses for it in my own mind, and even considering if there was any truth to the claims of my abuser blaming me for his violent actions. Today my only claim to blame is that I allowed it to happen even once.
Denial can and will devour our sense of worth and purpose in life. Excuses for staying in abusive relationships are strongholds, cast by the enemy. There will never be a reason that grants a person the right to abuse another person in any way, shape or form, not even the marriage covenant.
Domestic violence and other forms of abuse are emphatically inhumane, immoral, and biblically wrong. They go against everything that God has planned for His sons and daughters. We were not created to abuse or be abused.
If you are someone who’s never experienced it, and you find yourself stumped over why women (or men) in domestic violence situations “don’t just leave,” please invoke compassion, and understand whats going on that you can’t see.
What worked for me is the power, hope, and purpose in my savior Jesus Christ, and the love and support of my best friend, who did not judge me, but who was sensitive to my situation and loved me through it.
Below are some links to helpful information about domestic violence and abuse:
Dear Father God, I pray that you will intervene in the lives of the abused, and the abuser, to break their hearts for what breaks Yours. I believe that you will bring an immediate end to the act of committing abuse, and the act of accepting it. I pray that you will inject their hearts with your peace that surpasses all understanding. Remove the veil from their eyes so they will see what they do against Your will. Let them see clearly, the effort of the enemy against them. Penetrate the minds of onlookers and observers to become well informed. Burden their hearts with what is right and what they should do. Allow Your purpose to overtake them all, and awaken all to abolish abuse in the name of our Christ. And finally, I pray that you will exalt their lives to bring You glory Father, in Jesus Name, Amen.