“Why don’t they just leave?”
Before we begin answering that question, the unasked and more important question is “Why would someone abuse the person they claim to love?”
The answer to that question is that love is a collaboration and relationship of cooperation. Abuse is grounded in power and control. When an abuser wants to asserts their power and control, they abuse. That takes many different forms, physical, verbal, emotional, sexual, spiritual and/or financial abuse. The blame for this degenerative behavior lies squarely on the choices of the abuser.
Often we will hear from people experiencing domestic violence in their relationship and they will express that they “wish things could go back to the way they used to be” at the beginning of the relationship. They want the violence to end, they want to feel safe with their partner, they don’t want to live in fear anymore.
That promise from abusers made to their victims of “things will be so much better if you would just…” perpetuates the abuse by manipulating the abused partner into modifying their behavior to appease the abuser. It also is a no win situation because it sets up a pattern of coercive control that always ends up with more violence when the abuser feels the need to re-exert dominance or just feels frustrated in general. There is no cooperation implicit in this arrangement, only power and control. When an abused person does contemplate leaving, that opens up what is statistically proven to be the most dangerous time in that relationship. It will take away the power and control from the abuser. Having an exit plan and safety plan in place is critical to staying safe. HAVEN advocates are trained in formulating and supporting victims through the implementation of a safety plan. Safety plans can be simple or incredibly complex and having a the support of a trained confidential advocate is an important part of that first step towards a life free from abuse.
HAVEN advocates are available right now to talk to you about your own situation or one of a friend or family member. We are here to support anyone in our communities who has ever been impacted by domestic or sexual violence. Please reach out to our 24-hour hotline (603) 994- SAFE (7233) to speak with a confidential advocate. HAVEN is here for you.