Why I Didn't Leave Until I DidI originally wrote this post back in 2014 as a response to the ongoing discussion that was occurring at that time. It was a conversation about why women don’t leave abusive relationships. And the blatant disregard of the powerful NFL to its players being violent. As October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we thought we’d revamp and re-offer. 

There’s been a lot in the news lately about why people don’t leave abusive relationships. It seems so easy to some who are ignorant of the complexities of the kinds of relationships that spawn confusion and fear, where hope is constantly reborn, only to have that hope dashed once again.

There has been excellent conversation noting the complexity and reality of the danger an abused woman faces. The impact of the emotional abuse and isolation she has likely suffered for months or years prior to that. The idea was also posed by Beverly Goodens (creator of the #whyIstayed hashtag) that the question should switch to, “Why do men feel that they can hit women?

I have been listening.

I heard one comment that I resented.

“Why are we still talking about this? Is this really newsworthy?”

I understood that there had been a lot of news coverage. The onslaught of stories had been promulgated by an NFL player being caught in a video, with brute force  – beating his partner. Then he was seen dragging her body out of the elevator where the abuse had occurred. You couldn’t turn on any channel that somebody or other wasn’t talking about domestic violence.

The NFL commissioner had suspended the player, Ray Rice, for two games. It went far past laughable. It didn’t seem to matter to the NFL much at all.

Yet if the commissioner of the NFL had been sent a video of a football player robbing a bank, would he have payed attention? You bet it would have.

My story…

I resented it because I have lived it.

I know what it is like to be the woman who is keeping her mouth shut, trying to make others feel like all is going well in a relationship when it is not. I know after I was hit, when I continued the relationship, when I didn’t stop seeing him, I blamed myself. I thought I had made it happen. It became my fault.

I absorbed that guilt like a sponge.  I struggled for years to find my worth while being in a relationship that was highly chaotic, dramatic and critical.

I stayed trying to gain trust and respect. I never could. I made mistakes. But I tried.

The acknowledgement of my imperfection was the tool that was manipulated to control me. The attempt was to grind into me just how imperfect – how less than – I was.

I know now it’s called a trauma bond. Then it simply seemed as if there was no way out.

It took deciding I was never going to make it right. Ever. And that it was okay to be imperfect. Everybody is imperfect.

My life was not in physical danger like so many women. Not anything like that. I don’t want to portray that it was.The far greater part of the damage was emotional.

All of that has been over quite a long time. Yet you never forget what it feels like to be her.

So yes. The discussion is important.

As long as it’s still happening, it will always be important.


You can hear more about mental health and many other topics by listening to my podcast, SelfWork with Dr. Margaret Rutherford. Subscribe to my website and receive one weekly newsletter including my weekly blog post and podcast! If you’d like to join my FaceBook closed group, then click here and answer the membership questions! Welcome!

My new book entitled Perfectly Hidden Depression has arrived and you can order here! Its message is specifically for those with a struggle with strong perfectionism which acts to mask underlying emotional pain. But the many self-help techniques described can be used by everyone who chooses to begin to address emotions long hidden away that are clouding and sabotaging your current life.

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Why I Didn’t Leave. Until I Did. via @doctormargaret
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