Why Doesn’t She Leave?

That’s the question that’s (inevitably) being raised on this Pandagon thread, where Amanda posts a video of a woman being verbally and physically assaulted by her husband.

So why do women put up with this? Why don’t women leave? Are we stupid? Masochistic?

We’re rational. As the woman on the video says, physical abuse doesn’t start on the first date. It’s incorporated into a relationship after bonds are forged and hard-to-break ties are made. Look at this woman’s life: When he husband started beating her up, she lived with him in a small-ish town close to her family and they had three kids together.

Look at your own life: Could you pick up and disappear tomorrow? I certainly couldn’t.

Women who live in abusive households know that attempts to leave threaten their lives. Too often, women who try to leave abusive partners get killed. Their kids get injured or killed. The people or things they love (pets, etc) get injured or killed in retribution.

Beyond that, abusers often control the family’s finances — leaving isn’t free, and if you have little or no access to money, you have a problem. If you have kids, child custody laws kick in — you can’t just take the kids and run, you have to battle it out in court (which, if you hire a lawyer, also isn’t free). If you have a job, your employer may not want to put up with the routine absences that come with messy divorces and custody battles. Your employer may not want to put up with your partner calling and harassing them in an effort to find you. Your friends and family may not want to put up with that.

It is not an easy calculus.

I’m a young, single woman whose permanent residence is in New York. I have hundreds of thousands of dollars in student loans. I go to school. Once I finish school, I’ll be working, and I’m expected to show up. I have to take the bar exam to practice in New York, and I’ll have to re-take it before I can practice anywhere else. I’ll have a solid $1,000 a month in loans to pay off once I graduate. My name is on a lease. I am close with my family. I am close with my friends. I have an apartment full of stuff.


I cannot disappear
.

And yet that’s what we expect of women who live through intimate partner abuse. We expect them to just… leave. We act like it’s easy to pick up and move to a shelter — as if it’s no big thing to leave your job, your family, your kids, your home, your pets, your financial obligations, your professional goals, everything you own, everything you’ve worked for. We act like women who are abused will have their own bank accounts, their own credit cards, their own transportation, their own support systems, all independent from their partner. We act like leaving your entire life behind is even conceivable.

Some women do it. And those women are among the bravest of the brave. But I will be Goddamned if I ever look at anyone else and wonder why she made such a “bad” decision.

When I was a kid, my mom used to regale us with the phrase, “But for the grace of God, go I.” It always kind of sounds like bullshit. Until it isn’t.


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55 comments for “Why Doesn’t She Leave?

  1. Linnaeus
    September 18, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Indeed, relationships are complicated. It’s easy to say, from an outsider’s perspective, that it’s so easy to just walk out the door.

    But it’s not. Especially when we love someone and want to think the best of him or her.

  2. Linnaeus
    September 18, 2007 at 5:04 pm

    To illustrate this further, I can relate some of my own experiences.

    I’ve been hit with a leather belt. I’ve been slapped, punched, and kicked. I’ve been thrown against a refrigerator so hard that I bounced off of it and the doors popped open.

    Now, since I was still a minor, I didn’t get the “well, why did you stay?” reaction that adult women unfairly get. But I was old enough to understand what was happening and each time I said to myself, “That’s it. I’m calling Mom.”

    But I never did. I wanted to think it wouldn’t happen again. Finally, it reached a point where it didn’t, and the situation has more or less been resolved. I’m not saying my situation was entirely comparable to that which abused women face, but I had options to “do something” and I found it wasn’t as easy as it may look to someone else.

  3. bbrugger
    September 18, 2007 at 5:17 pm

    I have a simple response to the ‘why didn’t she just leave?’ crowd.

    Imagine, as an exercise, that someone is going to walk in here right now and put a gun to your head and tell you that in one month you have to be living in a completely new life. You must accomplish this with no extra funds beyond what you have to hand right this minute.

    You can tell anyone you like what you are doing and ask for help. But, if the guy with the gun finds out about it, he will come and shoot you.

    You can continue to go to work, but at any time for the rest of your life, if the guy with the gun decides to, he will come and shoot you. Likewise, if you have kids, they can continue to attend their present schools and sports and social activities- unless and until the guy with the gun decides to come and shoot you.

    Church? Same deal. Your family and friends? Same deal.

    If at any time while you are getting ready to go the guy with the gun can tell you are planning to leave or see any evidence of your actually doing anything towards leaving- bang.

    Now, by nefarious means, it seems the guy with the gun has managed to get his name on your bank account. Your credit cards. He has, in fact, complete and free access to your entire life. He’s going to be coming and going from your home with impunity.

    Call the cops? Okay. Maybe they’ll believe you. But unless they take him away to jail and keep him there- well, you know where this is going by now.

    Now, let’s twist this around. Maybe the guy with the gun says he won’t hurt you- if you don’t leave. Or make him mad. Maybe he says he wasn’t serious, maybe he says he was just so upset, maybe he says he’s sorry and he really loves you and it won’t happen again.

    And maybe, just maybe, the guy is in fact someone you loved and trusted and he isn’t like that all the time. Maybe he’s usually charming and maybe everyone you know and love and trust think he’s a good guy. Maybe when you try to talk about this little problem they ask you what else was going on, is he stressed at work, are you keeping the house clean and the kids quiet, are you sure you didn’t do or say something that made him angry? Maybe your mother thinks he’s great. Maybe your kids love him.

    Maybe she doesn’t leave because she doesn’t know how. Maybe there isn’t anywhere to go, maybe she doesn’t have a support network, maybe her pastor and her boss aren’t as all-fired understanding as the ‘just leave’ crowd suggests. Maybe she can’t afford rent and child care and car upkeep on what she can make alone.

    Maybe completely uprooting and re-arranging your life isn’t all that easy after all.

  4. Myca
    September 18, 2007 at 5:36 pm

    God, bbrugger, that’s the best thing I’ve ever read.

    Wow.

  5. madeline
    September 18, 2007 at 5:42 pm

    A couple of the youtube posts have people saying things along the lines of “She should have left before she had kids”.

    Well, yeah maybe if we lived in a vacuum. But there are plenty of women who think having kids will help, who get into the marriage thing because they can envision a happy family, or who just don’t have a choice when it comes to having kids. And i wonder how many women are in abusive relationships that they probably should leave, but have mothers and others looking over their shoulders and either discouraging divorce or encouraging kids.

    My father beat my mother. Not terribly often, but when it wasn’t physical abuse it was emotional. It’s easy to say she should’ve left, but in her mind it was either stay or deny her children a ‘normal family’. By the time she got out a lot of damage had probably been done to all of us, but she still has two families (his and hers) looking at her like its her fault for being such a bad wife and mother. It’s never an easy decision to leave, and I can’t blame anyone for being afraid to do it.

  6. Myca
    September 18, 2007 at 6:30 pm

    Q: Why doesn’t she leave?
    A: Because

  7. BaxM
    September 18, 2007 at 6:49 pm

    There is also a paradoxe there that my mom always pointed to me. Most of the kids, boys or girls, are educated by the mother (except in some advanced societies like in northern europe). But often the mothers don’t try to free their kids from the basic fronteer between the genres. I was (me a guy) lucky enough to have a mother who didn’t want to reproduce her mother’s education, because she suffered from it. And I also read a lot of books from women in Iran and Afghanistan. And I’m sad to say that I’m as a boy sometimes more of a feminist than a lot of girls.

    But It’s gonna change.

  8. Kat
    September 18, 2007 at 7:31 pm

    Maybe completely uprooting and re-arranging your life isn’t all that easy after all.

    And… you can’t just leave. You have to sustain the leaving. Its all well and good to say “leave” but then a day or two go by, or a week or two…. is she still able to support herself and her kids? to keep her identity/location away from him and those that support him? is her family on her side? (because a lot of times these guys charm her support system into believing that she is wrong and he is right, or, like Myca points out, her support system believes its her duty to stay).

    And if you have to come back, well then he’s all kinds of macho about how you fell flat on your face without him and then you get it worse.

    A couple of the youtube posts have people saying things along the lines of “She should have left before she had kids”.

    Sometimes the significant abuse doesn’t start until after the kids come. Because kids are wonderful but they can be a drain on the resources and patience of the parents. And often abusive guys push having kids, because it keeps their mates tied to the house and also gives them something to blackmail the mate with. (remember Peter, Peter Pumpkin eater…. ? )

  9. September 18, 2007 at 8:06 pm

    My dad prevented my mom from finishing high school or getting a license. He was her ride to work and her ride home. He moved her away from her family and friends, near his. He used her pregnancy, me, to get her to marry him in the first place. She had nowhere to go and no way to get away from him. She didn’t know. It was only because we found friends who would take us in when, to prove a point on Christmas Eve, he locked us out of the house. We found people in our community who helped us.

    After he tried to kill us, our neighbours kept him from coming back.

    It’s not easy, and most women aren’t that fortunate.

  10. September 18, 2007 at 8:08 pm

    I like the word “disappear”. That’s exactly what you have to do. Getting away from him is not enough. When someone is determined to hunt you down to hurt you, he will.

  11. September 18, 2007 at 8:17 pm

    I really loved this post. My mother is a survivor of domestic abuse at the hands of my father, and when I turned 11, my father started abusing me. Nothing pisses me off more than when people say, “If it’s so bad then she/he should have left.”
    My mom was atypical, she was able to leave. She still had enough family around to support her, despite my dad’s attempts to isolate her. People don’t understand how insidious the cycle of abuse is, how an abuser will isolate you from all your friends and loved ones so that they can control your entire life. And it’s not like they say, “Stay away from your mom because I want to isolate you,” it’s, “Your mom doesn’t understand me and wants to tear us apart.”
    I’m absolutely amazed that my mom was able to leave. She’d married my dad right out of high school and had stopped working after marrying him. Do people not know how much a divorce lawyer costs? Rent at a new apartment if you can’t stay with a friend or relative? I’d be so screwed if I had to pick up and leave right now, I literally have $2 in my checking account.
    I hate to say this, but I don’t think that most people can conceive of what abuse is like until they’ve been through it.

  12. September 18, 2007 at 8:23 pm

    I think that there is also probably an element of the gambler’s fallacy and the question of sunk costs. To disentangle yourself from an abusive relationship is not just financially and emotionally difficult, it’s also an admission that things are so deeply wrong they cannot ever be fixed.

    To get to a point where the best possible alternative is to run and hide is emotionally exhausting all on its own, even before one gets to the question of resources needed to disappear.

  13. Haydin
    September 18, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Wow, this just changed my mind. I always thought that women should just leave, but I never realized exactly what that entails. Wow, thank you for writing this. I feel like a huge idiot now…

  14. Entomologista
    September 18, 2007 at 8:36 pm

    I was only ever emotionally abused by a man. I say only because a lot of women have had it so much worse than me. For example, the next girl my abuser dated – he came after her with a knife. I guess he was just practicing on me.

    Excellent post.

  15. Marksman2000
    September 18, 2007 at 8:42 pm

    Women who live in abusive households know that attempts to leave threaten their lives. Too often, women who try to leave abusive partners get killed. Their kids get injured or killed.

    After the killings at Virginia Tech, Jill, you posted a thread on here in which you expressed anger (and mutual disgust, it seemed) that a woman would ever need a firearm to defend herself. Now you admit that women who leave abusive relationships are sometimes killed. So if a woman finds herself in this situation, what is she to do? All police can do is issue a restraining order (a slip of paper–wow) and come mop up the mess after responding to the 911 call.

    If I was a woman in this situation, I’d want some immediate way of defending myself. Contrary to what some might say, using a firearm to defend yourself and your family isn’t immoral. Makes all the sense in the world to me.

  16. zombieprincess
    September 18, 2007 at 8:54 pm

    i left my abusive husband 10/29/06. i had made a few attempts to leave at various times since i got married in 2002, but i felt trapped by pregnancy, finances, transportation, lack of friends and family to help, and fear of reprisal. i also had many near-breakups where i finally just thought i was “overreacting” to his behavior or “crazy”–ideas my ex had mentioned and joked about so many times that i had internalized them.

    for me to leave, i had to leave the house after a physical confrontation. i took my son with me, on foot. my ex wouldn’t let me have my purse or phone. i had to sneak to a neighbor’s house and use their phone (i didn’t know them or even speak the same language, so it was interesting). i had to meet the police in the park and wait. they were about to arrest him, and while he was in jail (less than 1 day) i had to rush to get some possessions from my home.

    i had to move from a city to an isolated small town hours away, where my parents lived. i was fortunate that their neighbors let me stay in their second, empty home. i had to leave my job, give away my son’s dog, and break the lease on my home. i had no money and very few belongings. it was not easy, and i had tons of help! i couldn’t imagine doing it alone, or with more children.

    it’s ashame that “normal” people have no concept of what an abusive really relationship is. it is far too easy and accepted to blame the woman. “why don’t women leave their abusers?” is asked, but the question should really be, “why do men abuse women?”. i am sure we can all give answers to that question if we stop and think for a moment.

    i am very fortunate. he still won’t sign the divorce papers (delivered 11/04/06) and is trying to control my life in that respect, but he does live in another state so i don’t fear for my safety (well, except that i sleep with a shotgun in reach.) i’m back in a city now, and my life is finally returning to “normal”. i’m working on finding friends again and am happy.

    as a random side note, i have recently been hired to be a correctional officer in a women’s facility. i am excited about the opportunity to give back to other women by providing a good role model and ensuring their safety in the institution. :)

  17. Thomas TSID
    September 18, 2007 at 8:57 pm

    bbrugger, that was fantastic.

    I think some men can grasp that kind of vulnerability better if the threat were organized crime or political extremists. Lots of guys I know can think about scenarios where their options would be to take their children and go into hiding or do what they were told. I think men are not willing to think the same way about intimate partner violence because the realization of how our society works is too shocking.

  18. Betsy
    September 18, 2007 at 9:04 pm

    bbrugger, thank you. That is amazing. I want to copy and paste it into a word document and save it for when I might need it (with proper attribution of course!) the next time some dumbfuck says “well, why didn’t she just leave?”

  19. September 18, 2007 at 9:22 pm

    First and last month’s rent, plus application fees, plus (often) an additional deposit. Oh, yes, they’ll run a credit check- which can show up on your credit report, which many controlling abusers watch. Utility deposits- when was the last time she had utility bills in her own name? You’re looking at some serious money there.

    (We’re moving right now. As in I am taking a break from packing to type. Moving is not cheap. Trust me, the costs are quite clear to me at this point in time.)

    Now, what about furniture? He’s certainly going to notice if the couch and the kids’ beds vanish. Pots and pans and plates and forks- oh, god, the baby’s high chair. Clothes, books, toys. What about the dog? The kids will be heartbroken without him, but the pet deposits…

    Even if all that can be managed, how do you move it? Moving trucks aren’t free, packing takes time.

    Time- time off of work, if you work. Time out of your job search if you don’t. And who do you put down for references who won’t something slip that tips him off?

    The places you take it for granted you can go to freely, all now have to be examined. Will he spot your car at the grocery? Will he wait outside the school? Will he show up at your job and cause a scene? In a perfect world you wouldn’t have to worry about being fired for personal issues, but how patient is your boss?

    If you leave him will the health insurance go away? Maybe you actually like his family. Maybe your family actually likes him. Maybe your friends don’t want to be ‘forced to take sides’.

    No, most of the time ‘just leaving’ means a scramble to get out when he’s not expected home for a while, and if you’re lucky you face starting over from scratch. Many women who ‘just leave’ do so with nothing more than the clothes they stand in and possibly a suitcase.

  20. preying mantis
    September 18, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    “Imagine, as an exercise…”

    You don’t even really have to imagine that the person has threatened to hurt you. What happens if they’re just obsessed with making you as miserable as possible for having left them, and they don’t have to seriously compromise their own lives to make an utter shambles of yours?

    They know where you work. How important are you to your employers? Are they willing to keep you on even if this person starts calling non-stop or makes allegations of, say, theft? Are you good enough to make them dismiss all those stories in the news about deranged exes showing up at the workplace and just spraying the place with bullets? How easily can you get a new job at that pay, with hours you can live with, if it turns out you’re not that important to them?

    They know who your friends are. Are your friends willing to either put up with this person’s harassment or go through the motions of reporting each incident to the police? Will your friends really believe you if you tell them what a nutjob this person is? After all, they know this person, too, and they always thought well of them. Can you trust them not to try to “help” by divulging information you asked them to keep secret? Will they really understand, or will they act like you’ve got leprosy now that you’ve got a psycho-stalker ex? How much help is it reasonable to expect–they’ve got their own lives, after all.

    Same thing with your family members. Can you handle family you haven’t heard from in years calling to ask if everything’s all right because this person contacted them and claimed to need help dealing with your abuse/addiction/bad parenting/mental illness? Can you be sure that this person won’t actually have the support of your family?

    Keep in mind, this person is not demonstrably dangerous, so they can get court-granted access to your children, and keep it until the children are adults or are old enough to make a compelling case against continued visitation. They have the right to sue for more access–or full custody–too. They have the ability to go into court and accuse you of whatever strikes their fancy, all to be dutifully marked down in court records. They don’t necessarily have to be able to provide a shred of proof to keep things tied up in court for a long time. How good a lawyer can your afford? How much legal wrangling can you stand to have your children put through? How much damage can this person do to your credit and assets, assuming you have either, before you get legally free of them? How much of that could you even go to the police over? Of what is illegal, how much can you expect to be done about it?

    And that’s not even all of it, is it? We’re talking about someone who could make your life hell, your children’s lives a wreck, and quite possibly make it impossible for you to support yourself afterwards without ever threatening to hurt you, let alone kill you. How willing would a reasonable person be to go through that over being beaten once or twice a year? Over being slapped around every so often? Over being verbally and emotionally abused?

  21. September 18, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    I hate it when they say “why doesn’t she leave?” Why should she have to leave? She’s not the one abusing her spouse. The abuser should have to leave, not the victim.

    My mom tried to leave twice, but she couldn’t stand living in the shelter. She had FOUR kids to care for; two under five! I’ll never forget her saying in exasperation, “why should I have to leave and go live in some shelter, behind lock and key, where I have to follow all these rules, and volunteer in the kitchen, like I was in jail? I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING WRONG. My children and I should get to be at home, and HE should be in jail!”

    They only threw him in jail when he gave my brother a black eye. Abusing your wife? Who cares. Abusing a child? Now THAT’S serious! And when he was in jail, my mom was FINALLY able to file for divorce.

  22. Broce
    September 18, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    Why don’t women leave abusive relationships?

    I’m a miracle story…and I will relate it here because it *is* so different than the experience of most women, and people need to realize that. As tough a road as it’s been, I’ve had more breaks and more advantages than most women, and I am ever so painfully aware of that. As you read, note how many times good luck pulled my ass out of a fire. And think about what could have happened to me had I not had that good luck. Most women whose husbands become violent have a very different experience…and there but for the grace of the gods…go any one us, myself included.

    My mother’s first husband (not my father) beat her to a pulp repeatedly…this was back in the early 50s. Eventually, she left him, and I grew up with an awareness of what had happened, and it made a deep, deep impression on me.

    Still…I married a man who turned verbally and emotionally abusive shortly after the wedding. Eventually, he decided to get physical. The first time he hit me, I was holding our infant son. He told me it didn’t count, since he didn’t hit me in the face. When that didn’t fly with me, he told me it was my fault. Big mistake, and I told him in no uncertain terms. I also told him that I understood that we’d grown up differently, and so maybe he really didn’t know any better. But I advised him that doing it again would end our marriage.

    The second time he hit me…I was scared to death, no job, no money, a small child. Being on my own with a kid and no job scared the hell out of me. So…I stayed, but I told him if he ever did it again, not to go to sleep where I could get at him.

    By the third time he hit me, I had already talked to a lawyer. I had realized that eventually, if I stayed with him, one of us would end up dead. I was waiting to get through the holidays, terrified still, but knowing I had no other option short of killing him. The fact that I could calmly consider doing so with glee scared me more than the idea of being on my own, no matter what happened.

    For the record he had hit me, but not beat me. Hitting was, for me, enough, given my mother’s history, given my involvement in feminism. I KNOW that if I stayed, it would eventually have been beatings. My awareness of that fact ahead of time was a lucky thing for me. Many women are in that deep before they realize what’s happening.

    So..he went to sleep and woke up with a cop standing over his bed. I’d gotten a restraining order, and filed for divorce that day.

    He threatened me repeatedly, and made my life a living hell for the next two years, until a smart judge got sick of the contempt citations and granted me full physical AND full legal custody. Magique, good fortune, a miracle… I didn’t have to consult him if I didn’t want to. He had visitation, but anything else was at my discretion. I was free. He had no control over me anymore. Most women don’t have that luck, full legal custody is pretty rare in Massachusetts, absent a child abuse situation. And so, they are tied one way or another, to their abusers until their children are grown.

    I was lucky. I landed on my feet. It was the middle of a recession, and I had no discernable skills, since everything I had ever done had been taken over by computers while I was out of the workforce. I had a high school education. Through magic or a miracle (and who cares which?) – remind me, some day I’ll you the story – I wound up working for a bank a couple of months later, answering phones and filing in a data security department. It was tough, financially. He didn’t pay support consistently..in fact in almost 16 years I think I’ve gotten less than a total of $5000..and nothing at all for the last twelve. But I was lucky to land the job. Damn lucky. Many women aren’t. I landed in a high tech department at a time when “are you breathing and relatively intelligent?” were the only questions asked. Today, I’d need a computer science degree to break into the field. I worked damn hard, and had a few good breaks..along with a couple of horrifically bad ones, and was able to grow a real career. Today, I am a systems engineer, and make a very good living (though I work 70 or more hours a week to do so, on salary, no OT, and I’m on call 24 x 7 x 365). Not every abused woman has the good fortune to land in an industry at a time when no real qualifications outside of intelligence are required, and have that industry blossom into one of the most lucrative out there.

    The town I moved to..it turned out there was a great child care center there… the mother of a friend of mine (whose brother I dated in high school) had worked there for 20 years, though she was retired. Retired, and living around the corner. So there was my back up and non work time child care, I hired her whenever I needed, and she became closer than a grandmother to my son. Most single parents have a horrible time with finding stable consistent affordable child care, and when the child reaches school age…it’s ever harder. Not having stable child care is not conducive to being able to develop a career which allows financial growth. I was damned lucky. How could I have worked overtime, traveled for business, taken training classes?

    My son is now a sophomore in college. A couple of years ago, through more luck, I was able to move to Colorado, purchase my own home, and established residency in time for him to attend the state university as a resident. So I’m putting him through college on my own dime..no loans, no grants. And my boss was pleased enough with my work to allow me to make the move and keep my job – I work from home full time.

    It took a settlement in a lawsuit for me to be able to purchase my own home. I have decent furniture and clothes, and I don’t sweat the grocery bill or the phone bill. What I have and what I want aren’t a lot by some standards…but it’s enough. I make a damned good living. I can put my kid through school, go out to dinner when I want to without thinking about the budget, buy books and music when I want. But it took a string of miracles for me to have even that. Can anyone promise an abused woman with, say three kids instead of my one, that she’ll have a string of luck like I’ve had? If not…well, sometimes it seems like a wiser choice to stay put, rather than risking your life by leaving…because is what you’re leaving for better…or just a different kind of hell? The gnawing anxiety that accompanies every bill in the mail. The decisions about whether to stay home from work because your child care bailed at the last minute, or to leave the kids at home and *pray* they’ll be ok so you don’t lose your job. Is it smarter to go, and risk your children’s future (because how the hell are you going to get them through school…which you cant really think about because you’re trying to decide whether to pay the gas bill or the electric this month), or stay and risk that he’ll hit them too? The fear, at the end of every visitation, that he won’t bring the kids back, that he’ll take them and run to punish you. How will you feed them? What if they get sick? What about health insurance? What if, gods forbid *you* get sick? What if you get a judge who is an ass and decides to give custody to your abuser? How will you be able to afford a lawyer? What will happen to the kids if you leave and he gets custody, or you have to share custody?

    It’s easy to say “Just leave”…but the people who do so haven’t really thought about all the implications of that action. Women who stay often have, in technicolor detail, night after sleepless night.

    I’ve been damned lucky. It took miracles to be where I am. Most abused women have given up believing in miracles. I know that I had.

  23. Christy
    September 18, 2007 at 10:11 pm

    We expect them to leave, not to disappear. We expect the family and friends to stick up for them, and not the husband/boyfriend. We expect the justice system to do what it is supposed to the criminal abuser.

    But, unfortunately, we live in a world where often the woman has to disappear, or live with it.

    If only the world was even slightly more perfect.

  24. September 18, 2007 at 10:16 pm

    I think a good analogy here is Hurricane Katrina. Why did so many people stay? For all kinds of reasons:

    Some didn’t think this really was The One.
    Many stayed for their loved ones, including pets.
    Some couldn’t physically leave.
    Some wanted to go down with the city they loved, like a sailor with his ship.

    My mother was abused by my father and she stayed in that relationship a total of ten years. She knew it was bad within the first year but stayed for a variety of reasons, including the rational fear that if she left he’d hurt her or someone she loved even worse.

    It’s easy to look in from the outside and say, “she should just leave.” But if you walk a mile in her shoes, you might have a different opinion.

  25. September 18, 2007 at 10:36 pm

    When my dad abused my mom, my sisters and I would all hide, but I would call the police from upstairs. They never arrested him- he had some power and influence (and money) where we lived. After a really bad occurance, my mom would take my sisters and I and we would drive off in our van, supposedly to leave and never go back. After a few hours we always would. Everyone acted like nothing happened. I hated it. I think if my dad hadn’t died, my mom would have either divorced him, or he would have killed her. I don’t know. I sometimes wonder if he would have started abusing me too, when I got older. This video made me remember my mom’s face- it was just like that.

  26. Hector B.
    September 18, 2007 at 11:00 pm

    One of my earliest memories is the butcher knife stuck in our bedroom door, while my mother was rocking my baby brother and sobbing. My parents must have been fighting about something, and sticking the knife in the door was my dad’s reaction to my mother locking the bedroom door on him. Things got better when my dad gave up the booze, but he would still get so angry so much of the time. The tension in the house would get palpable.

    From overhearing phone calls, I know my mother thought about leaving him, several times, but didn’t think she could earn enough to support us. I remember specifically that she looked into how much welfare would pay. She died fairly young. A couple of years later, my father started staying away for months at a time. We found later he had found another woman to take care of him. Luckily my sister and I were working, and could support us and my brother. When he died, people remembered him as nothing but a nice guy. “The brother I never had,” said one.

    So, I would say my mother stayed with my father because she had loved him, because he could still be charming and loving, and because she didn’t see how she could feed, house, and clothe us if she left.

    And the effect doesn’t stop with one generation. I think women, growing up, for good or ill, subconsciously look for guys like their dad. The worman on the video said her husband was overbearing, like her father. I hope this doesn’t sound like blaming the victim — this operates below the rational level. My sister certainly dated a string of charming substance abusers, although only one physically abused her. Luckily the local police in her small town made sure he got out of town. After hearing about this, I suggested she get a dating resume from any guy she got involved with in the future. A list of references she could call. This actually worked with the next guy, the guy she was with the longest. Although he didn’t abuse drugs or alcohol, he had a hard time balancing income and outgo.

    Now, why do guys abuse the women they claim to love? I think first, it is low self-esteem and maybe even depression: note that the guy on the video was unemployed and living off his wife’s earnings. My father spent a good deal of time feeling sorry for himself, especially for things that happened in his childhood. Second, I think it is narcissism — he thinks, how dare she criticize him. Maybe if he criticizes her first she’ll focus on that and not on his real shortcomings. Combining the two leads to the need to control their woman, perhaps because they can’t control their anger, and they can’t control their impulses.

  27. ACS
    September 18, 2007 at 11:46 pm

    I like the word “disappear”. That’s exactly what you have to do. Getting away from him is not enough. When someone is determined to hunt you down to hurt you, he will.

    I don’t want to say that it’s never good advice… but it isn’t usually.

    On the surface, the most drastic options seem like they’re the most reasonable; it seems that getting as far away as possible is a great idea in every situation possible. While there are some situations where it is a great idea, in most, it will make your life miserable.

    Especially if you have kids.

    If you have kids, and you run, and you don’t have evidence to back your claims of domestic violence, your abuser will have the right to engage the state’s coercive power to find you. The state is a better stalker than anyone you know. If you do, at that point, get caught, you’ll have the burden of proving that you should reasonably have been in fear of imminent harm. If you don’t? You lose your kids; you gain a lifetime child support burden; your abuser has a permanent, federally-mandated right to know where you are.

    I only ever knew one person who didn’t have the evidence and managed to make it out in this way. She didn’t use banks. She didn’t hold a job. She didn’t seek child support. She didn’t use the welfare system. She put her life on hold for nine years, until her children were eighteen. Then she changed her name. She filed to change her social security number. She gave up her high school diploma and her college degree.

    If you don’t have kids, and want to keep absolutely safe from a marginally competent abuser with a moderate amount of resources, you have to zero out your credit, start again under a new name, change your social security number (there’s the evidence thing again), move to a different city, abandon your support network, and not get a job until you do.

    But, of course, most people don’t do that, and the reason they don’t is because it’s impossible. Most victims of even very severe domestic violence are not being chased by the Terminator. They are being chased by people with rational motives: laziness and anger derived from bottomless entitlement. Running forever–abandoning your career; your degrees; your credit; your friends; your home–is unnecessary except when you’re in mortal danger and the other options have failed or are too unsafe to try.

    And most people aren’t.

    — ACS

  28. September 19, 2007 at 1:02 am

    Why should the woman leave?? Its not like she’s the criminal!

  29. September 19, 2007 at 1:10 am

    BBrugger, great post.

    I guess in cases of domestic abuse, one should be encouraged into the mindset that they can leave, not immediately, but they must at least plan for one. My mother was physically and verablly abused for 22 years, she faced the problems pointed out here, esp. wrt finances and her family was far away, so she couldn’t just up and flee with her four children the minute she gets a black eye. She endured those last 7 years planning and preparing and, thankfully, it proved successful. A modest and struggling start, but at least away from him. I don’t have any doubt my mother would’ve been left incapacitated or figuratively dead if she stayed. God, these women really need all the support they can get and more.

    It does boggle me how with some couples who are still on the “dating phase” (meaning not married, not co-dependent financially, no kids=no binding limitations, right?), the girlfriend endures the abusive boyfriend. It’s like, girl, wake up. If you think it’s just mild now, think hard when it’s fifteen years down the married road- he is NOT gonna change! Sigh.

  30. ErinPD
    September 19, 2007 at 2:53 am

    If I was a woman in this situation, I’d want some immediate way of defending myself. Contrary to what some might say, using a firearm to defend yourself and your family isn’t immoral. Makes all the sense in the world to me.

    My mother bought a gun to defend herself after she left my abusive, drug-addicted father.

    But then he would find her, break into the house and rape her at gun point. With her own gun.

    So, maybe not always.

    My mom left. He would find her. This cycle continued for 7 years. But she was lucky, she still had a pretty strong network and got to keep her job. I don’t remember him being around much. He was still calling her, though, right up until about 6 weeks before she died. He was begging her to take him back.

    I don’t think she would have ever considered it. Not at that point, not in a million years.

  31. September 19, 2007 at 3:34 am

    After the killings at Virginia Tech, Jill, you posted a thread on here in which you expressed anger (and mutual disgust, it seemed) that a woman would ever need a firearm to defend herself. Now you admit that women who leave abusive relationships are sometimes killed. So if a woman finds herself in this situation, what is she to do? All police can do is issue a restraining order (a slip of paper–wow) and come mop up the mess after responding to the 911 call.

    If I was a woman in this situation, I’d want some immediate way of defending myself. Contrary to what some might say, using a firearm to defend yourself and your family isn’t immoral. Makes all the sense in the world to me.

    Marksman, think about that in practice. First, how is she supposed to get a firearm? Many abusers control their partner’s finances and all of their movement. Second, if she gets a gun, when is she supposed to use it? You can’t just shoot and kill an abusive partner — you have to be faced with an immediate, deadly threat in order to claim self-defense. So you can use your firearm, but only if your partner is already charging toward you with his firearm. Not exactly an ideal situation to get into. Further, having a gun in the house puts women at greater risk of being killed, regardless of who the gun belongs to.

    There’s a case that I think most people read in first-year Criminal Law class about “battered women’s syndrome,” wherein a woman was abused in some of the most horrific ways imaginable — her husband beat and raped her regularly, prostituted her at truck stops, made her eat her meals out of a bowl on the floor, etc. She tried to go to a social worker, but he found out and dragged her home by her hair, then he threatened to kill her passed out drunk. She genuinely feared for her life, and believed that police officers and social workers couldn’t help her. So she shot him dead. And she ended up going to jail for a long time.

    Shooting your abusive partner doesn’t solve the problem.

  32. Growing up Normal?
    September 19, 2007 at 3:58 am

    i grew up (and, i guess because i’m a recent college grad, *still* growing up) in an abusive household. i only say *still* growing up because, ironically, i too am close with my family.

    my father was and is an incredibly abusive human being. physically and emotionally. and i never thought, and still don’t think, that anyone could possibly understand what my siblings and i have gone through for that last twenty-one years (plus a few).

    what i’m most thankful for, jill, is this post. because i grew up always angry with my mother. wondering why she couldn’t just pick up and leave. and mind you, she’s an independent woman. a biochemist, with a great job(s). she is also a mother to four children and my father has done a fabulous job of tying up all her expenses to his and neatly tucking away all her money into some plot of land in florida or some investment in stocks, etc. i used to be the only child to fight with my mother, constantly, about why she wouldn’t just leave. why, if the five of us lived in complete fear every day, why we stayed. why we put up with all of it.

    she always told me it was her “duty” to stick around. to put up with 27 years of complete and total shit. at 21 i’m starting to realize just how much was at stake for her. it wasn’t just her duty. she didn’t really have *that* much of a choice.

    which, i guess, is the most depressing part. most women, sure, have a *choice* but when it comes down to it, do they?

  33. nozaroc
    September 19, 2007 at 5:28 am

    I think there is a fine line between blaming the victim and enabling the victim. You better believe leaving is hard, and it’s deeply, deeply unfair that the woman has to make this decision in the first place. But there it is. This is the world you live in and the choices you face. It’s never been easy to do the right thing, and it never will be. But the choice she faces is uncertainty of a new life and the certainty of a miserable existence. It’s important to say that leaving is not impossible, just really hard. There is a difference.

    What this really shows is, the best time to teach a woman to stand up for herself isn’t when she’s in the middle of abuse, but before she gets to that point. Unfortunately, we do teach women to worship at the altar of relationship and feed really unrealistic notions of what an ideal life should be. A woman has had years of brainwashing that becomes even more difficult to undo in the middle of abuse.

    Funny someone brought up Katrina, because I was thinking about this myself. Don’t you think that the people who stayed, if they could see in graphic detail what staying would mean, would do anything they could to get out of there if they had a chance to do it over? Even if it meant grabbing a backpack, shoving in bare essentials and just walking? I know I would. Maybe we should think of abuse as a natural disaster.

  34. September 19, 2007 at 6:51 am

    I had some second/third hand experience with… just a small part of the difficulty in escaping.

    I’m fortunate that my workplace, though incredibly large, has a very close-nit community going on in there. Just recently a member of staff posted an ad up on our intranet about a female friend and her children who’d escaped an abusive relationship. It was all posted anonymously for safety. The woman had been forced to flee to her friends house last-minute. She barely had time to pick up a few essential items of clothing for the kids and needed help.

    Together, the people working at my company helped her out. One person had a flat they weren’t renting out- that became hers for a minimal amount of rent, to be deferred until she could get back to work. Then dozens of people donated their clothes, children’s toys, books, toiletries, a dishwasher, a month’s worth of food that would keep, a car that her husband wouldn’t recognise, help getting her children into a new school, free counselling for her and her kids, beds and bedding, sofas, wardrobes, an iron and an ironing board, kitchen utensils, a phone, plates and cutlery, a table to eat off of and chairs, a radio and a tv, money donations, a PC…

    That was only a tiny bit of the massive amount of effort that goes into escaping. I can’t even imagine how the woman would’ve managed if she hadn’t had access to that sort of support. Most people simply aren’t that lucky and I can’t even imagine the sort of determination and courage it must take to finally go through with something like that, with no idea what is going to happen to you from one day to the next.

    The “why won’t she leave” crowd really do just live in a fantasy world.

  35. preying mantis
    September 19, 2007 at 8:34 am

    “Funny someone brought up Katrina, because I was thinking about this myself. Don’t you think that the people who stayed, if they could see in graphic detail what staying would mean, would do anything they could to get out of there if they had a chance to do it over? Even if it meant grabbing a backpack, shoving in bare essentials and just walking? I know I would. Maybe we should think of abuse as a natural disaster.”

    Except that there are some people who stayed who had food and shelter and managed to ride it out in comparative safety, while others who fled but didn’t go far enough wound up in dire straits due to lack of power, lack of supplies, and lack of aid.

    That’s kind of the thing, isn’t it? You don’t have a crystal ball that you can look into and say “If I stay, I’ll die/be horribly abused for the rest of my life, but if I leave, everything will be okay in the end.” or “If I stay, I’ll get the hell beaten out of me once a month, but if I leave, he’ll come to my new apartment, douse me with gasoline, and burn me alive right in front of my son.” or “If I stay, he’ll kill me, but if I leave, I’ll be perfectly fine…because he’ll murder the children and then commit suicide/be imprisoned for life.” You don’t know if you’ll be one of the ones for whom things will suck at first but get easier, or one of the ones whose murder gives vapid reporters a chance to wax tragic about “love gone wrong.”

    I mean, it’s one thing to say that facing the uncertainty of a whole new life is hard, but how hard is it to face the uncertainty of a whole new life that you very well might get murdered while trying to start? Or the possibility of starting a new life, not being able to manage it, and having to go back to someone who’s a) angry with you for leaving and b) no longer afraid that you might really be able to get away from them if they go too far? It’s not enabling to look at the situation many battered women face and recognize that it’s still, even after all this time, horrible, or to tell someone why battered women don’t “just leave” when they trot the question out in an effort to victim-blame.

    It’s not like anyone’s saying “This is why they don’t leave, ergo it is utterly pointless to open more shelters, improve victims’ services, and work to educate police and judges.” If anything they’re saying the opposite–a legal system that accepts that understanding isn’t the same thing as enabling and a society where more resources are available to victims of abuse would make the situation abused women face less precarious and lower the barriers a woman needs to overcome to get out.

  36. fishboots
    September 19, 2007 at 9:16 am

    What I think people miss is that the victim of systematic abuse believes most of the stuff the abuser spouts off at her about. She is fat, she is lazy, she is stupid, she couldn’t possibly make it in life without him to help her along. She never grew up, she’s always running to her mother for help….

    It starts out slow, with critcisms you acknowlege as truth, then it increases, and since he was right before, and hey, your not perfect, you accept his version of the world. Pretty soon You question everything you say, do, and think. You don’t trust your own perceptions of the world. You can’t trust yourself. It is a horrible place to be.

    Since women are trained from birth that no decision they ever make is the correct one, that they shouldn’t be vain about their accomplishments, that if they get any happiness from their own endeavors once they’ve reproduced they are selfish, and that they should sacrifice for others to be happy, I believe women are uniquely set up for abuse.

    And these abusers beat women over the head not with their own expectations, but with societies. Women need to be pretty and sexy and motherly. Women need to keep a clean house. Women must be willing to change, anything, at a change in wind direction. The family unit is more important than ANYTHING ELSE EVER. Certainly more important than the health and welfare of the mother. Abusers use expectations women internalize early against them, for the purpose many of theseexpectations were created . Control. And when it works, the rest of society gets to tsk, tsk, secure in their superiority and asking “Why didn’t she just leave?”.

  37. fishboots
    September 19, 2007 at 9:23 am

    nozaroc Says:
    September 19th, 2007 at 5:28 am
    I think there is a fine line between blaming the victim and enabling the victim

    .

    How the frickin’ frack do you enable a victim? Seriously.

  38. SarahMC
    September 19, 2007 at 11:37 am

    Marksman, I suggest you read the book “Couldn’t Keep it to Myself” by Wally Lamb. It’s a collection of stories written by women in a CT correctional institution. Almost all of them had been victims of either child abuse or domestic abuse. And some of them were incarcerated because they HAD gotten guns and shot their abusers. After the criminal justice system abandoned them. Getting a gun while living with an abuser is not easy. Using it will not take care of the problem; in fact it will often land the abuse VICTIM in jail.

  39. Hayley
    September 19, 2007 at 12:50 pm

    “How the frickin’ frack do you enable a victim? Seriously.”

    Amen. Unless of course you enable them to regain the dignity they have lost, the power they probably never had, or the confidence that has, figuratively or literally, been beaten out of them. There are few powers in the universe that can restore to these women the idea that there is even a possibility of change. After all, by asking why she won’t leave, you have just confirmed what she already believes: all of this is her fault. So if she leaves and he kills her, or gets custody of their children, or she has to raise her children in a shelter/on the streets/in poverty…that’s her fault, too, isn’t it? On the other hand, if she can stand the beatings, which are her fault anyway, so that he will still provide her children with the home they deserve…why would she leave?

    Many of you may not know of the resources that are being provided in many cities across the globe, but I advise you to find them. All states have a crisis or abuse hotline that will be able to provide the names and contact information for domestic violence shelters and safe houses nearby. Even if you are not a victim or do not know a victim, I advise you to call the hotline and get these resources so that when you come across an abusive situation you can offer some help. I know the term “shelter” makes most people shudder with images of The Pursuit of Happyness, but many domestic violence shelters provide counseling for victims before the victim has to leave. These services will help to line up every detail of the “escape” we have all been discussing, so that when a woman leaves she has a place to go and a life to go to. And a safety net to protect her from the abuser.

    You may think that your area does not have any sort of help for victims of domestic violence, but you will probably be surprised at what is available. Many services don’t have the funding to be able to advertise everywhere, or they are kept quiet to further protect the victims. Contact local social service agencies, colleges or universities, and local family practice/divorce attorneys. Family Protection Units are also becoming more common in local police departments which will also be able to provide resources. Help is out there, you just have to look a little harder in some places to find it.

  40. L
    September 19, 2007 at 3:25 pm

    The housing market in Alberta, Canada right now it insane. Thanks to the oil boom, the Alberta “Advantage” means that vacancy is around 0 and prices have increased by as much as 40% in the past year. Affordable housing is a huge issue, to the point where there was a tent city in Edmonton, the capital city, over the summer. Some of the people suffering the most from the lack of affordable housing are women in abusive relationships.

    I have a friend in one of the major cities whose relationship was becoming more and more emotionally abusive and who wanted to leave. She felt like it was going to get worse, but she couldn’t find a place and couldn’t afford one if she could. She finally moved in with her mother (in another city) after he beat the shit out of her one night.

    Her situation is far too common in this province. Women want to leave, but they have no where to go.

  41. Hayley
    September 19, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    National Domestic Violence Hotline:
    1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or TTY 1-800-787-3224

    http://www.ndvh.org

    Also, the Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network (RAINN) can be used for victims of domestic violence as well and will help you get through to the resource that can help you the most:
    1-800-656-HOPE

    Finally, you can find resources in every state by visiting:
    http://www.feminist.org/911/crisis.html#state

    You are worth it.

  42. pb
    September 19, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    If you leave, he might find you, stab you, and take your kids:

    http://www.wpxi.com/news/14152216/detail.html

  43. September 20, 2007 at 1:41 pm

    I work at a non-profit that helps survivors of domestic violence navigate the legal system. We provide legal advocacy, assistance with protection order paper work, assistance with filing your own divorce etc. My specific position studies domestic violence related homicides and suicides, and as has been mentioned here several times, our findings are most women are killed by their abusive (mostly male) partners after they’ve initiated separation. I’ve seen first hand women who do everything “right” who leave, who file for protection orders, who are incredibly strong and brave, get killed at the hands of those who pledged to love them most. Leaving an abusive situation is incredibly dangerous even if you have access to all the resources in the world, but what about the women who don’t? What about the women who are arrested for domestic violence because she was self-defending? What about the women who lose their children because it’s illegal in some states to expose your children to violence in the home?

    “Why doesn’t she just leave” is an ignorant question. And it makes me want to throttle the people who can’t grok the incredibly complex dynamics of intimate partner violence.

  44. r4d20
    September 20, 2007 at 1:58 pm

    After all, by asking why she won’t leave, you have just confirmed what she already believes: all of this is her fault. -Hayley

    What? I call bullshit.

    I completely understand the practical problems with leaving, but simply asking “why doesn’t she leave” doesn’t necessarily imply we believe that ANY guilt lies with her – not any more than asking “why doesn’t she leave” a burning building means I’m accusing her of arson.

    Morally ALL the blame lies with the abuser, end of story, no ifs-ands-or-buts about it. Ok?

  45. September 20, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    At the age of 36, with three kids, a paycheck for $200 and the clothes on her back, my mother ran to a shelter. She had to beg and plead with my father’s uncle to just drive us to a police station. Wailing, and pleading. I’ve never seen my mother so weak and defenseless as that moment. And then 12 hours later, I’ve never seen her so strong.

    I think it was because we had so little that she was able to leave. We didn’t leave behind a network of friends who supported us. His family turned their backs on us for leaving him, and we were okay with that. But it was still unfathomably hard.

    Leaving is never easy. Leaving should never be taken lightly. Leaving should be rewarded. Leaving should be made easier. And safer.

  46. September 20, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    I completely understand the practical problems with leaving, but simply asking “why doesn’t she leave” doesn’t necessarily imply we believe that ANY guilt lies with her – not any more than asking “why doesn’t she leave” a burning building means I’m accusing her of arson.

    No, if you ask “Why didn’t she leave?” a burning building, you imply that she was stupid for not leaving, not that you’re accusing her of arson. A better comparison to domestic abuse is hearing that a woman died in a burning building and asking, “Why didn’t she blow it out?”

  47. fishboots
    September 20, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    Asking “Why doesn’t she just leave?” also shows a shortage of compassion. Probably it was overwhelmed by the arrogance, also key in such a statement.

    Leaving isn’t mudane, it isn’t an inconvenience, a petty concern. A logiostical conundrum. It takes having things the abuser has gone out of his way to take away. Money, friends, vehicles, time alone, a key to the locks…. it is fascinating how little empathy people have for women that dare become victims.

    A better question people can ask is “How can I make her leaving easier?”. Or maybe “How can this be tolerated in a suposedly free society?”. “Cause, bet your ass, someone knew what was going on and chose to ignore it.

  48. AMH
    September 20, 2007 at 11:08 pm

    “Shooting your abusive partner doesn’t solve the problem.”

    Maybe not, but personally, I know it would make me feel wonderful to do it. And if he survived, maybe he’d think twice about going after someone who might come after HIM.

    But yeah, it’s really not practical. :-/

  49. Syna
    September 21, 2007 at 6:27 am

    I am a victim of domestic violence. At the time i was 19, 500Kilometres (300miles or so) from my family. I was in university and surviving on welfare.

    I was the kind of person that didn’t fail at anything. I was a successful student at high school. The idea that my relationship was failing (because of violence) was incomprehensible. It was more emotional/psychologica/financial abuse – There was only 1 or 2 instances where he touched me in a violent way.

    The fact that I was so young, had no money, no close friends, no social supports, and no close family made it incredibly hard to leave. In fact, he found a ‘new’ partner and this is what ended the relationship (long complicated story that I wont go into). I dare not imagine what would have happened had the relationship gone on.
    Today I am a totally different person – I am self sufficient and competent – however I still have demons that i battle every day about whether or not I am a good enough person to worry about. My current partner is a great source of support and encouragement.

  50. MJ
    September 23, 2007 at 8:20 am

    The first thing that came to my mind was, “She should fight back, should report to the police, get a lawyer, divorce him and make sure he stays in jail or far away from him. She should move out if she can’t get him to leave. Gain independence herself.”

    But that is easier to say than do because a lot of women who are abused think they should stay just because they are so familiar with the abuse already that they become numb with pain. It’s hard if a person only thinks about the hardship on where to get shelter/home, where to work, where to live, where to send the kids to school, how to get him out of their lives, where to get money so fast, how to keep the track unknown to the abuser?

    It would be great if she can have all the support from the society, her work place, friends, family, neighbours and even children but how many of women are so lucky and brave to seek help?

    Still, I believe no woman should stay in abused marriages just because it’s easier, “better for the children” and finances.

  51. Kristen
    October 6, 2007 at 2:16 am

    “Why didn’t she just leave” is a question I have asked myself a million times since my best friend was murdered by her boyfriend 2 years ago. Although reading the comments here has given me a better idea of what women in that situation go through, I implore anyone in this situation to leave, no matter how difficult. I see now how hard it can be, but 99% of the time it only gets worse. My friend thought she could change him. She hid everything form her family and friends until the very end. Anyone of us would have done ANYTHING to help her, if we would have known, if she would have just reached out and told us. Some people might not have any support But I beg you just the same to leave, no matter the cost, because not leaving can cost you your life.

    I often think that if she could have seen how devastated her mother was at her funeral. If she could have seen the pain in her grandmothers face as her grandma continuously rubbed her hand over my friend’s chest at her wake, surly she would have left. It was only afterward I learned that her shot her in the chest, with a shotgun, at point blank range. The police said she staggered out of the house before collapsing on the lawn, they called in ‘dead walking’ because they say that her heart had already stopped beating but the body is still in so much shook it still functions for just a minute (I don’t know why the police told us such horrible detail, but I am repeating it now, because I think some women here should here it)

    If you don’t leave for yourself, think of the pain you may cause your family if something like this happens to you. And don’t say ‘he wouldn’t do that’ because that’s what my friend thought, and now she’s gone and I’ll never see her again and even after two years her family is still as devastated.

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