5 Reasons women take so long to leave their abuser.

Women who try to leave abusive relationships attempt to leave about seven times before leaving for good.

Woman sitting on a cliff overlooking the ocean gripping the straps of a backpack on her back. Thoughts on why women take so long to leave abusive relationships.

You might be surprised to hear that, on average, women in abusive relationships try to leave their abusers seven times before they leave for good. To me, it’s a wonder any woman can leave at all, with all the obstacles they face along the way. Let discuss some reasons why.

1. She doesn’t trust herself. The control women experience has made them believe that they’re not capable of anything. Control is used to keep a woman from leaving an abusive relationship. It keeps the abuser in the position of ultimate authority in the relationship, but also over her life. This is one way that victims are kept in the victim role. She starts to believe the messages that she is not capable of. How could she possibly believe she could actually pull off leaving?

2. She is confused. This one kind of goes with the point above. When a woman is involved in an abusive relationship she experiences a lot of confusion. She’s confused about the reason for the abuse, who’s responsible and she may see her husband as trustworthy because he is a good financial provider, and pays bills on time. He may pick the kids up from school on time, or keep up on vehicle maintenance. But when we are talking about trust within relationships, we are talking about trusting someone with your heart. Is it safe to share hard feelings, be vulnerable or transparent? Does talking about emotions always end up in a fight? This causes a lot of confusion because trust is misunderstood. The abused assumes responsibility for the abuse she is experiencing.

3. She holds on tightly to the “good” memories. She feels like she has lost everything. And in many ways she has. She has lost herself and her identity. She’s probably even lost a lot of her relationships with friends and family. So the precious memories are the things she holds onto, they’re her warmth on a cold night. They’re her hope when she cannot hope in anything else. They’re her home when everything is falling apart.

4. She is numb to the abuse. After being mistreated for so long it starts to feel normal, and with the normalcy, there is a level of acceptance. The lack of trust in herself and the confusion she experiences make the consistency and familiarity of the abuse feel comforting and inviting.

5. Fear of the future and not knowing what to expect. Leaving an abusive relationship can be scarier than staying in an abusive relationship. At least with the abuse she knows what to expect. Leaving, that’s another story. A whole future is full of things she’s never experienced before awaits. Court, attorneys, and rebuilding a whole new life. She often wonders if she could ever do that… so, she doesn’t.

6. She will experience attacks from the abuser’s allies. Often when women attempt to leave they are attacked by the abuser’s allies. These allies can be his family, people in the church they attend, or even “friends.” Do you remember in the Wizard of Oz, when the Wicked Witch gets tired of waiting for Dorothy to come to her, so she sends her flying monkeys to bring Dorothy to her? In many ways, the abusers have “flying monkeys” that come to bring the victim back to her abuser. Or if they cannot get her to go back, they will hurl arrows at her. So if this is you I am talking to, then please do not write these off. Think of ways you may be doing these things. And if you need anything, please reach out to someone, even me.
Take heart, pretty girl! You have what it takes.

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