The title of today’s blog comes from a conversation I had with some ladies about two days ago. We talked about why people don’t leave abusive relationships. We were doing a bit of lamenting too as to why others don’t understand those reasons. I wanted to take today to give you some thoughts on the “why.” I can promise you there are reasons people don’t leave right away and those reasons may make more sense to you than you know.
So why does she (or he) put up with it?
They put up with it because children are involved and they don’t want the children harmed or taken from them – every abuser at least once threatens the other partner with this consequence. The partner being abused has no idea if this is a hollow threat or not. Would you trust a violent man or women to not hurt your children just because they are children? Would you take that chance if you didn’t know for sure? Can you imagine what the children are going through?
They put up with it because they no longer know who they are. This was a big one for me. Every abuser sees to it that they destroy the personhood and self-confidence of their victim. They maintain control and manipulation in this way. They make you as the other partner wrong, no matter what. They steal their identity so to speak making it harder to make a decision to leave because the partner being abused no longer trusts themselves or their judgement.
They put up with it and may even project a happy façade to the world (social media posts) because in their heart of hearts, they are hoping if they do this, the relationship will get better. I believed this too. They love their abuser and want them to hopefully change if they see that there are times they are all one big happy family. For the abusers part, this is all part of the plan – to look good and happy so no one will question them. They want their partner to look good and happy so everyone will question their partner if they reach out for help and try to leave. If I were a betting person, the Colorado father who recently murdered his family was violent and abusive but no pictures were allowed unless there were no signs up obvious abuse for the photo. We have no idea what the woman and her children really endured.
They put up with it because they do not want to be perceived as failing at a marriage or a long term relationship. This was another big one for me. In my pride and shame (of which I did not know at the time I did not need to have), I did not want to be perceived as failing. Everyone else seemed so happy being married and I wanted to make it work. The problem was I was trying to make it work with someone who did not know how to love me. I think he was just as ashamed. That’s a big problem.
They put up with it because they do not know what love is or their idea of love has been skewed at some point, even though they are doing their best to love their abuser. I knew what love was, I had it modeled to me. However, when I got into the relationships with my husband, I thought I was loving him by trying to be “loving”, “kind”, “patient”, and “sweet” with his outbursts. I was not loving him, I was enabling him and he was not loving me. Does this make sense?
Do you see why people “don’t just leave” immediately? They can’t leave because they are wrapped up in a lie that both the abuser and they perpetuate for different reasons. Until the lie is revealed and they have the revelation they need about the person they are living with, they won’t leave. The best thing you can do for a friend, family member or acquaintance is just listen and be there for them. Pray for them and love them where they are and continue to encourage them to be safe for themselves and their children. If you do these things, their eyes will be opened and they will see who really loves them and who does not. They will see the need to leave and to seek a safe place. Jesus did this for me. He opened my eyes and he will open theirs. He will also open the eyes of others to see their abuser for who they really are. Abusers can run but they can’t hide from God. Abusers can’t lie to God. Abusers can’t manipulate or control God. Only God can heal an abuser – if you are reading this and you think you can fix the person who is abusing you - you can’t, you don’t have that kind of power.
I hope this blog encourages all of us to take a step back and not be so quick to judge a person in an abusive situation. My hope is that you will also see how multi-faceted and complicated abusive relationships can be for those involved – both for the victim and the abuser. I also want to caution you to be careful – everything is not always what it seems when it comes to social media and what people portray. If you have suspicions, your suspicions may be correct and you need to approach that conversation carefully if it is a conversation you can have right now with the person. Pray up and love always, you can’t go wrong with that!
Being the voice for those who cannot speak,