Family & friends of domestic violence victims, stop asking the wrong question!
Why didn’t you just leave?
It’s the question every survivor of domestic violence is asked. The reality is that leaving an abusive relationship is often a task that endangers the woman. It's not easy for anyone in an abusive relationship to 1st admit that they are in that type of relationship. Admitting it makes it too real. It's easi
er to stay in denial. It's safer there. We already have to deal with the person whom we thought loved us but is beating us down but to actually tell someone who will probably call me stupid for "allowing' it to happen is sometimes worse than the beating. My abuse started at 15 up until the age of 24. I protected my abuser for years. There weren't many who knew he would beat me and the ones who did know didn't say anything. My family just found out 3 years ago. To everyone he was a "good man" because he kept me with that latest everything, a car, money, jewelry, everything a girl could want but that all came with a price. I'm currently still paying that price because all of the years of abuse have left me with irreversible damage to my head. I suffer from chronic migraines & I've been diagnosed with a pseudo tumor cerebri (excessive fluid). I also have what is called a Chiari Malformation that wasn't caused by the abuse but my head can't be operated on because of the excess of fluid. His reason for hitting me in my head was to protect my face because he said & I couldn't hang around him looking any kind of way. My head was his target & he made it perfectly clear. He would punch me in my head, all over my body & even pull my hair until hair came out in his hand. Once we were in the car & he was driving when we ended up in an argument because someone looked at me at the red light. He reached behind my seat, grabbed a house phone (that was left behind during our move) and proceeded to beat me in the head with it until the phone broke into pieces. He pulled the car over & I was on the floor of the passenger side begging for mercy. Sometimes he would hide me for a couple of days until I calmed down & then I had to promise to stay with him. He has threatened to tie a rope & a rock to my ankle & throw me in a canal, he has ran after me with a gun but my cousin jumped in the way as he raised it to shoot me. He has kidnapped me on several occasions. One of the times he kidnapped me, Homestead police found me because a man called the police after seeing me running & screaming with no shirt on. I went to court, I pressed charges but he still got out. I woke up a few days later to him standing over me. He had bonded out, broke into my mom's condo & was watching me sleep. Again, I had to promise to not leave him in order to not get beaten or worse. With every beating there came an apology & a shopping spree. He thought his money made everything alright & I guess I allowed him to believe that. It's not that everything was alright; I just got tired of trying to leave him. I never succeeded. There were times when I would leave but failed each time. Everywhere I went, there he was. He would show up to my school, my job, at friend's houses, gas stations, anywhere! When he found me, I had hell to pay for having the nerve to leave him. I was often dragged away kicking & screaming & no one ever tried to help. Every victim has a breaking point and until they reach that, I don't believe anything else will make them leave. As I got older, I started fighting back but fighting back made matters worse but I was tired of balling up in the fetal position while he pounded on me! We would fight anywhere that he felt disrespected and being disrespected to him could be a simple hello from someone I grew up with. While trying to get a break from the beatings, I went to my mom's house just to get away from him. One night he came by and asked me to get my stuff out of his apartment since I hadn't been there in a few days. Not realizing it was a set-up to fight me again I got in my car & went. I got to his apartment and asked to please stay downstairs while I got my stuff. He said he would but he didn't. While I was packing he came in and started cussing at me, telling me I'll never make it without him, he made me, he owns me etc. I kept quiet and continued packing. As I was leaving I went in the kitchen and grabbed a knife small enough for me to hide from him because I knew he was going to try something. He left out the door before me & went down the stairs, I took the elevator. When the elevator doors opened, he was standing right in front of it and charged towards me. I stabbed him in his chest right over his heart. He fell over yelling in pain & I ran to my car. I took that same knife & stabbed his tires so he couldn't follow me. He came behind me yelling for someone to call the police on me because I had just stabbed him. There was a security guard there that had apparently called the police because a few moments later the police pulled up. Of course they asked what’s going on & he tells them I stabbed him. I admitted to stabbing him but I told them why. They didn't care. I had a weapon, no bruises & he was bleeding. We both went to jail. After he was cleared by the jail doctors he & I were at the fingerprint table together at the Dade County Jail. After we went to bond hearing he was given the Pre-Trial diversion program but I was not eligible because of the weapon & my charge. I had to bond out. Once he was released he came back to bond me out. One the way home, he looked at me & asked "Are you hungry." THAT was my breaking point. That day I decided NO MORE. I could've ended up in prison forever. My exit from that relationship didn't happen overnight but that is when I really started to put a plan in motion to leave him. One day he came home from work & I was gone. I hid from him for a while & only a few people knew where I was. He did end up finding me months later but my boyfriend at the time who is now my husband today was there & he didn't want to deal with him. He left that day and NEVER bothered me again. Please understand that abuse is rarely consistent & constant so there were days when we were a normal couple & I believed he would actually change. However, I learned that abuse does follow a pattern and it only got worse! Victims need to know that they are stronger than they think they are. It may seem safer to stay but it's not. Seek help & get out while you can! If you know someone in this situation, help them by being there for them. Don’t tell them that if they go back, you won’t help again. Help them every time! They have to know that someone cares about them no matter what! Encourage them & remind them of who they are! Build them up & hopefully one day it will sink in!
I pray my story will prompt people to stop asking why she stayed — and instead begin asking how they can help.