As a little girl, I was molested between the ages of 7-15. That set me on a dismal path. At high school graduation I was wearing an engagement ring, and at the age of 18 I married an abusive alcoholic. Nearly 16 years of marriage consumed with emotional and verbal abuse followed, eventually escalating to physical violence. Throughout the years I have consistently been asked, “Why didn’t you just leave?”

At book signings and public appearances, other victims of domestic violence share portions of their own stories, and most often repeat the same question has been asked of them.

So, if you have been there, done that, tell me, what is your best response to “WHY DIDN’T YOU JUST LEAVE?”

  1. Donna lowman says:

    No one can answer that question but you..They did not live in your shoes>>>How dare any one place judgement>>Just remember>>>YOU ARE A BETTER PERSON for ALL you do for others>>>I am so honored to know and love you>>>D

  2. I can believe that you didn’t leave because you were convinced that you had no where to go. By the time you knew you “should” go, you had a couple of children…what about them? Didn’t they need a “daddy”. After all, we were raised in the 50’s, where Mommy and Daddy stayed together…even if they hated each other…for the sake of the “children”. We were the “Ozzie and Harriet” age! My aunt told her Mother YEARS after she was an adult…”Mom, you didn’t know it, but we would have all beeen better off if you had left Daddy a long time ago and we ALL wish you had left him”!

    We play with the hand we are dealt, the best way we know how to play. Sometimes we win…sometimes we loose…but everytime…we learn something. I love you, dear “old” friend.

  3. I ask myself that question nearly daily, even after I have already been out of it for one year. I suppose that I subconsciously or consciously began to believe the things he said about me over the last 15 years like “you’re a good for nothing stupid *&%$#” or whatever was on his mind, and I didn’t have enough courage to believe I could do it. That, combined with the fear of “If you leave I will spend the rest of my life making your life a miserable hell” tend to make one question if it’s worth it. In the end, you just end up gathering every tiny shred of courage and self-respect you may have left in you, and make the decision that staying is making your life a miserable hell too, so I had nothing to lose once I came to that realization. Believe me, it’s been a year, and he’s lived up to every promise he ever made, but at least I come home at night with my two children and I can count on the fact that I will never be abused in front of them again. We’re far happier without him in our daily lives. So, I guess the short answer to the question of “Why didn’t you just leave?” is paralyzing fear.

  4. april M. Whitt says:

    I appreciate all you are doing to reach out to help others. Perhaps one reason people stay is because they are confused and sometimes (when it is subtle) they aren’t sure if they truly are in an abusive relationship. Guilt and so many other things come into play.

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