real life

Thousands of abused women answer the question, "Why don't you just leave?"

Why don’t you just leave?

It’s the one question every domestic abuse victim is haunted by. From the outside, it seems simple: If your partner is beating you, controlling you, or hurting you, just leave. Just. Leave. Just walk out the door, just go.

But it’s never that simple. It’s never that safe.

Right now,women around the world are explaining why. Read their powerful answers:

Let’s remember that the perpetrators of spousal and intimate abuse are masters of control and intimidation. They could be physically holding their victim captive, threatening to harm them or their children, blackmailing them, or putting them in a state of paralysed fear.

An author called Beverly Gooden started the hashtag #WhyIStayed in response to a particularly heinous public case. She began by confessing why she couldn’t leave her abusive marriage, and her bravery inspired other survivors to join in.

Beverly Gooden.

Here are some of her reasons for staying in that relationship, told in less than 140 characters:

Gooden started tweeting about her own private anguish after the case of Ray Rice went public. Graphic footage of American footballer Ray Rice beating his wife unconscious and then dragging her body from an elevator emerged…. and it was Rice’s wife who publicly apologised. It was baffling and distressing.

The sound of millions of people asking “Why wouldn’t she just leave?” was deafening.

Janas and Ray Rice, at a press conference where she apologised for the incident.

Read more about the horrific case of Ray and Janas Rice here. 

That’s why this response on Twitter — by women around the world — is so powerful. If you’ve ever wondered why someone doesn’t leave an abusive relationship, educate yourself by reading as many tweets as you can. Each one is a very concise story of pain, fear, and ultimately, survival.

If you are affected by abuse, you can receive help via Relationships Australia on 1300 364 277. For sexual assault, you can receive help by calling 1800 RESPECT – 1800 737 732. If you are in immediate danger please call the police on 000.

At Mamamia, we are committed to telling women’s stories in their own voices. We are constantly humbled and moved by the way our readers get in touch to share their experiences. If you want to write or speak about your experience as a survivor of abuse, you are so very welcome to email me at [email protected] 

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