Thursday — October 08, 2020

So why didn’t you just leave?

by: Stephen Chavez Matzel

"So why didn't you just leave?" That question is the most frequently asked one regarding a battering situation and the one that causes anguish for so many domestic violence survivors.

That question. When someone is in an abusive relationship, chances are they cannot just leave. The risk of homicide goes up 75 percent when someone leaves an abusive relationship. This is not a normal breakup. When an abused person decides to leave the relationship, the intensity of the abuse can increase and the abuser’s power and control tactics can escalate. For more information detailing why people stay in domestic violence relationships see the LAPD's website, Domestic Violence: Reasons Why Battered Victims Stay With the Batterers, http://www.lapdonline.org/get_informed/content_basic_view/8877 .

Instead of asking that question, which might sound like you are blaming them, consider asking them how they found the courage to leave. If they are still in the relationship, simply ask how you can help them. Give them a domestic violence hotline number such as the Cahuilla Consortium’s hotline number, 951-330-0479, or work with them to develop a plan by sharing tips such as the 20 Tips on How to Leave an Abusive Relationship, https://vkool.com/how-to-leave-an-abusive-relationship/ .

Just the exercise of putting together a plan could help someone visualize and implement the steps needed to prepare themselves to leave the relationship.

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