An Open Letter: To Those Considering Returning to an Abusive Situation

If you are keeping track, you’ll recognize that I’ve changed blogs.  Again.  I’m working to set up my own domain (a couple of them), but in the meantime, I’m here.  In the process of transferring six years’ worth of posts to this space, I’ve stumbled upon a few that I’d like to repost.  They were meaningful then, and they remain meaningful today . . . if for different reasons.


February 2009

Issues surrounding domestic violence have been on my mind for months.  At the shelter where I volunteered, counselors stated that a woman (or a man) stays in an abusive relationship because she does not believe there are alternatives.  The abuser tells her as much.  He threatens her.  He lies to her.  He tells her that no one will ever believe her.  And he’s right.  Few people believe her when she speaks of the abuse.  When she does decide that she should leave, her limited (finances, resources, family, friends) options often keep her bound to the abuser.  She stays. Or she returns.  Indeed, when women do leave the abusive situation they are in, they return an average of seven times before (1) she finds the courage and the resources to break completely free from the abuser or (2) he kills her.

One of the many reasons she returns, though, is that she misses life as it was.  Even though it was abusive, it was *her* life.  Her home.  Her friends.  Her belongings.  Her source of (questionable) support.  It was what she knew.  Yet she leaves (which is a positive step in reclaiming her life) and she’s right to do so, but her life is suddenly much more difficult than it was (or difficult differently).  He (or the abuser), on the other hand, moves on with life.  For him (or this person), life does not change much.  He has the support of family and friends because, after all, she is one who left.  He can blame her.  The family can blame her.  She is gone, and she can’t stand up for herself.

But she could never stand up for herself in this situation.  He had all the control.  But she’s right.  Right.  Right?  Then why does she feel so wrong?

Women do find their way out of these situations.  It takes courage and strength,  hope and faith, focus and drive.  Women can make it out.  It takes time.  It takes resources.  It takes a network of support.  A woman (or a man) cannot do this alone.

So, today.  Take that step.  It’ll be hard.  You’ll second-guess yourself.  You’ll want to go back.  Going back will seem easier.  But it’s not.  You need to leave.  You need to move on.  There are people who love you and who will support you.  You can do this.  You have to.  It’s the right thing to do.  Take that first step.  Today.


  1. #1 by jo(e) on January 7, 2011 - 9:21 pm

    This was definitely worth saying again. And again. And as many times as it needs to be said.

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