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Can we have some support on 'why women don't leave?'

(75 Posts)
Darcey2105 Fri 23-Jan-15 15:33:07

About a year ago I heard about a campaign on twitter where women were holding up signs saying why they didn't leave their abusive partner. It was things like 'because he'd track me down and kill me', 'because I had no where to go' and 'because he slept in front of the door so I couldn't get out'.

The point of the campaign was to stop making the abuse the women's fault for putting up with it. The point is less, why don't women leave, more why won't abusive men let women leave. Or even, why don't men stop abusing women?

Reading that campaign made me feel so much better about myself. I've been on mumsnet loads, and every little thing I write hoards of people are telling me to leave that night.

I have left 3 times and been homeless twice, once with a 9month old baby, and once when pregnant with a little toddler. It was so unbelievably awful, that it was a welcome relief to get back into my own house.

My husband is still horrific, and I demand a divorce every night, but no way is he letting me go. I see the disgust on my friends faces when I tell them what he's like. But their disgust is for me not leaving. These are friends who saw when I was homeless before - where am I supposed to go when I've got a job to hold down and 2 toddlers to support?

This threat is less about what do I do, I'm now finally getting support through women's aid. But it's about people on hearing of the problem saying 'just leave'. It's not helpful, as it makes the woman feel wretched when she can't leave, as she thinks its her own fault.

Instead ask 'how can you arrange to get away from him?' It's a small difference, but it helps her work through exploring her options.

Is anyone with me here?

CardiffUniversityNetballTeam Fri 23-Jan-15 15:39:14

I totally get where you're coming from. I left. It took four or five attempts before I was in a place where I felt fully strong enough to get out.
I think it is very difficult to understand unless you have been in that situation yourself.
Before I was in an abusive relationship I always thought women who stayed with partners like that were a bit weak. Now I know the difference between being weak and being frightened, confused and having had your confidence knocked so low by the abuse cycle that you just can't see an escape.
It's different for every woman I'm sure. Some probably do leave at the first sign of trouble. Others are never able to get away.
As women, no matter what the situation, we should be supporting and helping one another to stay safe and keep our children safe.
Good luck on your journey.

Jan45 Fri 23-Jan-15 15:41:59

Instead ask 'how can you arrange to get away from him?' It's a small difference, but it helps her work through exploring her options.

Totally agree with you.

Joysmum Fri 23-Jan-15 18:35:12

Well said smile

IfNotNowThenWhen Fri 23-Jan-15 18:54:20

Hear hear. It took me 2 years to leave my abusive ex, and I was lucky in that I had somewhere to go. People underestimate the shame that an abused partner feels, rightly or wrongly, and also the practical considerations.
Glad you are getting help now.

yummytummy Fri 23-Jan-15 19:00:49

I agree totally. I couldn't leave as nowhere to go no family to support and no one believed me. Plus by then my confidence and self esteem was destroyed and I felt like I was nothing. Not really a person in my own right anymore. Anyway in the end he left. But after years of abuse and them chipping away at you the only voice you hear is theirs. I still hear it. And still feel like I am not worth anything

Downtheroadfirstonleft Fri 23-Jan-15 19:08:28

There seems to be an enormous difference of understanding between those who have been in the situation and those that haven't.

To my shame, I know that when I started reading some of the threads on here, I just thought "well just leave" etc. It is only since reading more and more about it, the long to loss of confidence, the normalisation of abuse etc. that I have become less ignorant.

Where you have a cross section of the population, you are always going to have people at different stages of understanding.

flowers to all those in such difficult situations.

Fingeronthebutton Fri 23-Jan-15 19:12:18

I hear you. My Mother was abused. She would leave him, we would sofa surf with friends and family but eventually we would have to go back because people were too afraid of my Father.
Most of these women who scream, leave the bastard have never been in this situation. They just like to think they would have the balls to do it.
They have no idea what courage it takes to leave your home with young children. Walk a mile in their shoes.

eeyoreisgloomy Fri 23-Jan-15 19:24:27

So true, it's easy as an outsider to say 'just leave' but when it's you just leaving is never so simple. It took me years to leave, incidents would happen then everything would be fine for ages, then it would start again and stop, I was always made to feel like it was my fault, so in my mind to leave would make it all my fault and I would be making him and my dcs unhappy - all my faultsad that's a huge burden when you are emotionally and mentally drained, you forget about you and just go on, going through the motions of each day hoping the next will be better, but it isn'tsad it actually took me four years to leave, i made my decision and set myself a deadline(sounds awful, but it worked for me)when that deadline arrived, that was it, subconsciously I was done and I did all the rubbish,filed for divorce and finally had to leave - he was vile to me and it ended really badlysad since then I have had a very difficult journey but I wouldn't go back, my life now has a purpose and I am so much happier,dcs aren't doing too badly either, but I did it when I was ready - not when everyone was telling me to, you have to be ready yourself to leave and you will know when that time comes. Hope that's helpful, didn't mean to go on quite so muchblush

TwoNoisyBoys Fri 23-Jan-15 20:12:49

I think the point made that do people really understand unless they've been through it themselves is extremely interesting.

I was in an abusive relationship for 16 years....the typical slow decline until one day you don't recognise yourself anymore. My ExH was verbally, emotionally and occasionally physically abusive. My best friend was, for the first ten years, not very understanding.....she tried to support me, but was firmly in the "Why don't you just leave?" camp. Then her marriage ended, and she had a relationship with a man who she was desperately in love with, but who very quickly turned emotionally and verbally abusive, and this eventually developed into occasional physical abuse.

It led to her having a completely different understanding of what was happening to me, and why "Just leave" wasn't an option. I wouldn't have wished it all on her for the world, but it did enable her to understand the whole thing in a completely new way.

I wonder what other peoples opinions are? Do you always have to 'walk a mile in my shoes' before you absolutely understand?

Pastmyduedate0208 Fri 23-Jan-15 23:30:00

I agree. No one can understand how hard it is to leave a relationship that involves dependency, often children, financial concerns and housing.

However, someone who is in a relationship with certain patterns of behaviour may not recognise it as being abusive. So often i see women coming on here looking for advice, and they learn that they are with an abuser which is a trait you cannot change in a person.
The cries of ltb are not designed to shame or blame, but to higlight that you will not be able to change the dynamics of your relationship so either stay for more of the same, or get out.

I wouldn't say the people who say 'ltb' when it comes to abuse in relationships are doing so from a position of wanting to blame the poster.

There are not enough qualified/experiened posters who come on here who can advise specifically what steps to take and how, which is why usually women's aid is recommended.

These men are scum. It is a problem with our society that wonen find themselves choosing between being abused or homeless.

Coyoacan Sat 24-Jan-15 00:03:26

I think there a lot of different factors at play. The most important one is the financial side, housing etc. Which is why anyone who is against domestic violence, IMHO, should be in favour of the welfare state and a good benefits system.

But there is also the psychological side. Why abusers work to isolate their victims from friends and family I do not know, but it certainly serves their purpose. The abused party is isolated, lives day-in day-out being told that they are useless and nobody could love them, then gets a crumb of affection and is ready to jump through hoops for it.

ladybird69 Sat 24-Jan-15 00:17:59

It took me 25 yrs to find the courage to get out of my abusive relationship for once and for all (left numerous times during that time). He'd promise to try harder, to kill himself, kill me, kill the kids, I'd promise to love him more it wasn't HIS fault! Abusers totally fuck with your mind. Unless you've been there you would never ever understand in a million of years.

womaninthewildsofwales Sat 24-Jan-15 00:38:44

I watched my best friend go through a horribly abusive relationship while always wondering why she stayed... Then it happened to me. I fully understand the way in which the abuse cycle works now and I know from experience that actually the abused woman doesn't want pity or being told to leave, what she wants is a friend to accept every single decision, wobble and failed attempt at leaving without judging or passing suggestions; all I wanted was non-judgemental support, I was lucky to get it from someone who already had the t-shirt but many women don't!

AmantesSuntAmentes Sat 24-Jan-15 00:56:56

'Better the devil you know'.

Breaking away and redesigning your life, in one fell swoop is completely overwhelming at the best of times. Many abused women are used to being controlled. To start to think for yourself again, in such a massive way and so immediately, is a big ask.

(I'm not projecting here, just mulling over my own experience!)

I was offered a refuge place, secured by my counsellor. Overwhelmed, I couldn't take it (better the devil you know!). But, the fact my case warranted a refuge placement, opened my eyes to the seriousness of my situation. I kicked him out immediately, then within weeks, disappeared hundreds of miles away, with only my children, ditching my owned home, work and friends.

Best. Feeling. Ever!

Inevitably, the scales drop and then action occurs. Yes, this takes as long as it takes, however, 'leave now' is not based in impatience, it's based in fear for the abused. I'm glad I was told to 'kick him out' and 'leave now!' by people here, over a decade ago. It empowered me and permitted me, to do just that.

Darcey2105 Sat 24-Jan-15 07:46:04

What annoys me is that the victim is expected to give up all her rights. Your being abused, now you need to leave your home, maybe your job and friends and take your children out of school. That's not right! It should be the criminal losing his rights!

Yes the just leave comments on here are partly what I'm talking about, but also that is the general feeling in society.

Isn't there a control and coercive behaviour law now? That kind of thing sounds good as it's saying what he's doing is wrong and he'll be punished. Rather than saying what he's doing is wrong and now you need to give up all your rights and flee like a refugee.

I'm feeling stressed as I'm getting urged to leave again, but I've already been homeless twice I have a job and my children are in school. I have no problem ending the relationship, he's scum and I wish he was dead. I just want HIM out of my life, rather than ME leaving my life again.

CRH2015 Sat 24-Jan-15 09:39:18

I'm with you.

Your most precious "commodity" is time. You only have one life. Cliché but I think getting my head around that helped (a bit) to leave with just a back pack. Cos none of it counts for anything if it's soured.

thatsnotmynamereally Sat 24-Jan-15 09:47:24

Darcey I really hope you are able to get him out if your life.

I'm glad you started this thread as I've been wrestling with the same issue but from a totally different place (kids are young adults now) and I keep going in circles and coming back to exactly the same place as to why should I have to give up everything, comfortable house, job, routine that I'm totally happy with, the only problem in my life is him, and hard to pinpoint exactly what fault he's going to find that will set him off, and waiting on eggshells for it to happen, it's like a black cloud is in the house when he's here, then when he leaves it's lovely and the sun comes out again until the phone rings and its him shouting again. When I have taken up friends kind and heartfelt offers to stay with them I've felt like I'm intruding, and it's somewhat uncomfortable and awkward. I was 'on the run' for a few days last month (nothing sinister just avoiding him) and it wasnt too much fun spending a lot of time sitting in McDonald's / Cafe Nero / etc with my suitcase waiting for people to get home or trying to keep out of their way, and I ended up with terrible cold/sore throat. It was actually a relief to get back to my house. And it's made me wary of just going, even to a hotel which would cost £ and most likely be no fun, when it's 'tolerable' for the time being.

I remember having this exact same revelation 15 years ago when my kids were young, that life was great when he wasn't around, but that was before I knew anything about emotional abuse and I just thought everyone was like that. I've muddled though, no real regrets but I do urge you on, take the help and advice, and make a new life for yourself.

I'm sure that 'just leave' is the correct advice. But wouldn't it be nice if 'just get him to leave' was easier to achieve? BTW that law on coercive control is coming in some time this year, I've discussed it with the police, but once again the police tell me it's hard for them to arrest, etc if you are still in a relationship with someone. So yet again-- it's 'just leave'!

Ragwort Sat 24-Jan-15 10:06:16

You have made some really good points.

It takes a huge amount of strength to leave everything behind, and as the OP says, why should she have to uproot her children, leave her job and home?

This week I helped a young woman leave an abusive relationship; she was helped by women's aid and a support worker for young adults. She left with nothing - just the clothes she was wearning. She had no money (obviously I gave her some). I have heard she is in a safe place but have been advised 'for my own safety' not to have any more contact with her. sad. The ex-partner has guessed I have had some involvement with her leaving and so far hasn't turned nasty towards me, but it might happen.

I hope she has the strength to stay away but imagine how lonely and vulnerable she will be feeling in a strange place, knowing no one, having no money and left her (few) friends behind. Needless to say she has little support from her family.

Floundering Sat 24-Jan-15 10:15:17

Some good points here, but just as an aside OP, I get YOU not wanting to be the one to leave & be homeless again.

How can we support you in getting Him out?

Could you ask WA to give you ideas of how to work with the police and get him to leave?

thatsnotmynamereally Sat 24-Jan-15 10:39:41

Darcey I've done a lot of research on injunctions (a night in a prison cell plus a caution for threats, not actual violence, hasn't caused my H to realise his behaviour is wrong, in fact the opposite, he thinks he's a victim of rough justice dickhead) and if: 1) you have served a divorce petition showing you want to get out of the relationship, or are in the process of doing that and 2) he has recently been violent with you or threatened violence, then you should be able to get an occupation order, call NCDV and they may do it for you. You'll have to accept that you cut contact with him after that (as I understand it) so ongoing relations will be acrimonious no doubt, no chance of a lets-just-get-along divorce (I might be wrong but this is how I understand the situation and part of why I didn't do thus back when I could have) and the judge will want to know where he's going to stay (although I'm not sure this has any bearing if he's been violent in the home). I'm sure WA will go through it all with you, but getting him out is an option. If you have to live together a non molestation order may help you but once again this draws a drastic line under your marriage, might be just what you need?

CRH2015 Sat 24-Jan-15 10:45:37

ps, even though he won't go anywhere, go to a solicitor so that it's on record that you want a divorce.

Vivacia Sat 24-Jan-15 11:34:28

I think I'm the type of poster you're writing about. I have no personal experience of being abused by my partner, yet I reply to threads from women who are being abused.

I don't blame women for the abuse, but I do advise them to leave. The main reason is compassion, because I don't think anyone should live the way they describe living. The second most common reason is fear for their safety because the situation they describe is so dangerous. Sometimes I advise LTB because children are involved.

Sometimes I don't post, because I realise I'm about to post from an non-supportive, non-compassionate position. I generally recognise this when I'm feeling angry that they're not protecting their children or I feel some part of them is feeding off the drama. I feel they'd be unhelpful, un-supportive posts, so I don't send them.

CRH2015 Sat 24-Jan-15 11:47:16

Good point upthread about a good benefits system being in place. Anybody who judges a woman for not leaving should be in support of a really good social welfare system that leaves women with options.

Darcey2105 Sat 24-Jan-15 22:27:13

I've found the links to the campaign I was talking about why women don't leave. It's on the huffington post

www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/12/why-didnt-you-just-leave_n_5805134.html

More to follow soon

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