Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?

I hate the Domestic Violence cases.

I never know what I’m walking into. Sometimes a neighbor hears a couple in the midst of a heated argument and calls us out of concern. Good for them. Better to be safe than sorry.

Sometimes a report is made in bad faith by a former boyfriend or girlfriend who’s not too happy about the current love interest of the child’s parent. But only a callous soul would purposely call in a false report to get back at someone.

But the true DV cases are heartbreaking. I once listened to a preschooler tell me about seeing his mama’s boyfriend knock mama to the floor and kick her repeatedly in the stomach. A school-age kid told me that when her parents start fighting, she grabs her younger siblings and takes them to the bedroom, locks the door, then distracts the kids to keep them safe. A teen told me of intervening when one parent pointed a loaded gun at the other.


If a child is actually making disclosures, I know I’m facing a volatile situation. These are the children who are sworn to secrecy. These kids do NOT talk about what’s going on in their home.

Children of DV homes often tell their stories in a matter-of-fact way. They’re so used to the violence that it’s normal for them. And if it’s normal now, it most likely will be normal when they’re adults beating or being beaten by the one they love.

As painful as all that is, that’s not the reason why I hate these cases. I hate these cases because of that nagging question in the back of my head: If it’s so bad, why doesn’t she leave?

That is an unfair question, I know. It blames the victim for her circumstances. Instead, I need to focus on the the person responsible for the violence and hold him accountable.

It’s a hard fight. Society is hard-wired to blame the victim. She had him arrested, then dropped the charges. She dropped the restraining order. She took him back over and over again. Yes, she did, but she did so because she felt that was her best option. There are shelters, but they stay full. She has no money because he’s controlled it for years, and not allowed her to work. He’s isolated her from family and friends, so there’s no one to take her in. He’s brainwashed her into believing she’s nothing without him. If she leaves him, she leaves everything while he gives up nothing. So she holds out hope that THIS time he means it when he says he will change.

It’s frustrating to be sitting across from her yet again. You were free from him, but you went back. WHY did you go back? But that’s MY frustration, and it has no place in the conversation. What I have to focus on is her and her children. I have to make sure her children stay safe.

So maybe he beats the shit out of her, but he never touches the kids. Why should I intervene? Just because there are no physical scars, it doesn’t mean these aren’t scarred children. These are the kids that will bully other kids. They get hooked on drugs and create havoc living that lifestyle. They will abuse animals. And why not? They are numb inside, yet incredibly angry, and what have they learned to do when they’re angry? You hurt someone.

free clipart from Clipart Panda
free clipart from Clipart Panda

Too many times we hear of angry men who go off the deep end and kill ex-wives, her family, her children. His children. Just to show her who has the control. We wonder how it got to that point, when, in reality, there were warning signs for years that were overlooked.

Blaming the victim ensures yet another generation of violence-filled households. Take your focus off of the victim. Point the finger at the perpetrator. Hold him accountable.

39 thoughts on “Why Doesn’t She Just Leave?

  1. From my safe distance, I struggle with that same tendency to blame the victim. Good for you, being open-minded to the reality of what HAS ago be done. If it were just the couple, I’d get it. But when kids are involved it’s a different story. Those invisible, lifetime scars are real. I know.

      1. I too know the lifetime invisible scars. I’m glad I have an incredibly strong mumma who was strong in the situation and amazingly strong out of it – what a role model. I’m also glad my daddy finally woke up to his problem {after many years} before he died. Hard to read Jen, but this is one little duck who won’t continue the cycle, and would not put up for one second with anyone who threatened harm to my family.

  2. ive been in a preschool working where the safegaurding officerin the setting had to report a parent..the woman was made to keep away from her bloke because they hit echother..kids not hurt but the mother was told by the social she must stay away from him if shewants to keep her kids… she kept going back to him, my colleague saw them together and had to report it..

  3. It is a case by case thing I am sure..my sisters husband beat their children, she did nothing, she told me she did not want to give up her huge house and money..i reported her husband. The school knew what was going on but they were a well off family and paid their fees..disgusting..needless to say I have no contact with this sister and her adult children leave a lot to be desired…they had the same potential as my kids..she denied them through her own greed..she would have had a very comfortable lifestyle if she left him..just not as extravagant..

    1. Your sister has been bombarded her entire life with messages that her worth is measured by her bank account and all the things it can buy. To leave him would be to give up that dream, and we all know that dreams die hard. Funny how we let men of business ruin others for money and we hold them in high regard. But she is disgusting.

      1. Indeed our father set the rot..money over everything including us kids..our worth was only what we could do that he could be proud of..an his hand was big hard and damn heavy..i went the opposite way…sadly my sister chose to continue the rot.. believing her material assets meant her children would not be taken off her..sadly true..she developed a gambling addiction ripped my mother off and took everyone down that she could..my life of less was always a great source of amusement to her…my wealth is my kids and their lives well led now….I find most people I hold in high regard have next to nothing materially..but wealth in spirit of kindness and generosity of heart…rant over 🙂

  4. I grew up within a sporadic violent home often filled with love but often filled with arguments and fights.. … and yes Children ARE affected….. Sometimes staying in a relationship for the sake of the kids, is not helping as they grow up with fears and insecurities, ,,, Even today I tremble when I hear others fall out..

  5. I come from one of those families. I left home at 17 and never went back.Both parents are gone now. I always wonder if it could have been different if someone, something, had helped us. Especially my brother and I.

  6. Excellent post. Nothing to do with dogs, but excellent – and very important – nonetheless. I need to point out one thing, however. It is not always the female partner who suffers the abuse, or the male partner who is the abuser. I was in an abusive relationship for 3 years. The woman in this relationship would use violence on herself, and then blame me. There were times when I almost went to jail, but thankfully I could prove that I hadn’t done it. If I would threaten to leave, she’d attempt suicide. I finally had to realize that I wasn’t responsible for her sickness, and I forced myself to leave. She died shortly afterwards, but not from suicide. She died of AIDS.

    This is a true story. I don’t talk about it much – or write about it much – but I felt the need to tell you, due to this post. keep up the great writing. This post moved me.

    1. When I worked in prison, I counseled a few men who took the rap for a woman. A couple of those guys were used, and I felt sad for them. They gave up years of their lives for women that could care less.

      1. Interestingly, although I understood abuse issues pretty well, it wasn’t until friends convinced me that I was the victim of an abusive relationship, that I realized it. That’s what gave me the ability to leave her. Once I accepted the fact that she was abusing me, I no longer felt that leaving her would be a betrayal.

  7. We really need to repeat this message, over and over again, to society and to the victims and potential victims until people understand the repercussions to all involved, especially the next generation who is watching and involved, even if a hand is never raised toward them. I’m so glad there is someone like you in these cases, even though I know it’s hard on you.

    And the other day when you mentioned not blogging here anymore and focusing on other writing, my first though was how you’d integrated your job with children and families into posts now and then. This may not be about pets and animals, but in not so roundabout way, it is. And does every post have to be? It’s about life. Keep it here. Let us know and let us share.

  8. I spent a year as a volunteer on a woman’s hot line. I eventually had to leave because you get so sucked into the situations only to have the spouse not leave or do anything. Then you get the same caller a week or two later with the same situation. It takes a special kind of person to understand the “victim” is as damaged as the “perpetrator.” I didn’t have the patience until someone was ready to make a change.

  9. Fear of the unknown, financial insecurity coupled with low self-esteem can really be hard to set aside when it’s time to leave a unhealthy/abusive relationship (from my experience).

  10. I have also worked with domestic violence, as a volunteer in a women’s shelter and as a counselling intern in a social service agency. Statistics tell us that a woman will leave her abuser 5-7 times before leaving for good, and the more condemnation she faces from society, the less likely she is to leave. While conducting research for a paper on IPV (interpersonal violence), I found an amazing article called “50 Reasons Why Victims Stay.” Let me know if you’d like to see it.

  11. I think the Perpetrator should be held accountable whether the victim wants to press charges or not.if the police are called to a DV it should be investigated,if the education system is aware of the children being abused the same thing should happen and the perpetrator should be charged and prosecuted and given counseling and rehabilitation to educate them that this behavior is unacceptable in our society that way the cycle has a chance of being broken,but I can’t see that ever happening at this time.
    I had a boyfriend who started to beat me,he had a history of beating his previous girlfriends,but he seemed nice so I gave him a chance.when he started getting heavy handed with me I warned keep it up and I ‘m gone then he did thump me and that was it,I had had enough, I waited till he was asleep and hit him with a frying pan not enough to do serious damage just enough to bruise him and then I packed my stuff and left he later begged me to come back but I said no way,he then stalked me for 6 month before he found someone else to beat.if he had hurt me too badly I would of press charges instead.
    I know I shouldn’t have done what I did but it did give him a taste of his one medicine and he is very wary of me if he see’s me out now,that was 30 years ago would I do it again if I when through a similar thing again probably,as far as I can see its me or them I and I come first every time.

  12. Yelling yes! The kids see it all.
    It is difficult for authorities when victims waver back and forth, but interventions has to be done and those at risk kept safe. SOme states like this one have mandates that the cases be prosecuted once authorities are aware even if the victim keeps “forgiving”. Sometimes it’s gone on so long, the victim has lost sense of what is normal and right.
    And authorities MUST take seriously threats and take firm action after intervention is put in motion. Waving a piece of paper that is a protective order doesn’t do much good if the person is determined to do harm. It is not right that victims once they manage to break free must live in fear for ever – and many do.
    It is not right for children to witness one parent murdering another in a rage.
    I know the jails are full of “serious offenders” – but this sort of violence must not be tolerated. Violence in the home breeds violence in the public streets if kids feel violence is an acceptable solution to conflicts – their parents showed them that.
    HUGS to you – and strength. These are kids living a nightmare

  13. My close friend has been out of an abusive relationship for the past 3 years after more than 20 years living with the man. He broke her spirit so severely and controlled every aspect of her life so she felt she had no worth.

    Since she’s been out of there, she’s had to rebuild her confidence and find a new self. Luckily there were no kids in the relationship.

    It’s hard to understand how someone could feel so powerless. But I think my friend is amazing, not just for what she endured in the relationship but for finding a way to move forward after such a long time.

    The children who you end up responsible will have to rebuild their selves. Hopefully they can get the support they need to do so.

    1. I think it’s funny how we admire people because of the money they make, when people like your friend do such difficult work on themselves. To me, they are the people who should be publicly admired.

  14. I went through that years ago with a little girl who shared a locker with my daughter. When her Dad left the house, the stepmother beat her and locked her up. I questioned my daughter carefully, then called the principal who thankfully called in Child Services and got the little girl removed. My daughter didn’t seem to understand what was going on (that people could actually treat each other that way), but I sure did. What burned me was that the little girl shared this with others in the class, but apparently my child was the only one to repeat it back to a parent who cared.


  15. Domestic violence is such a difficult issue because it runs up against society’s belief that people can handle and resolve their own crises. In other words, outsiders really don’t know what’s going on and should mind their own business. But, if children are involved (as they almost always are), no reasonable person should ignore it.

  16. It’s important to remember that it happens the other way round. I had a male friend who was a victim and too afraid to do anything about it because he had been taught never to hurt a woman and didn’t want his friends to think badly of him for “letting” her hit him.

    He has the literal and emotional scars to remember her by now but thankfully they never had any children

    Violence is violence, no matter who dishes it out and no one should stand for it. I feel terrible for those trapped in situations because they feel they have no other option


  17. As a domestic violence survivor I can say that when my baby and I were living with our abuser, I had no idea that she would actually remember any of it. She did and it affected her deeply. Getting out for real was the hardest thing I had ever done, and it took several more years to get at why I was seeking out and participating in violent relationships. Nowadays there are a great many resources available for victims including a phone app that alerts people to help when the abuse is happening, unbeknownst to the abuser. You can find this app on ‘when georgia smiled.com’. Thanks for a great post.

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