Not evyone can leave abusive or otherwise toxic situations.
- Someone who depends on care to survive might have to endure abuse from caregivers or staff
- Minors usually can’t leave (unless they’re being sexually abused and someone powerful believes them)
- Even when minors can leave, they’re often worse off in their new situations than their old ones (eg: an autistic kid being abused at home may well be worse off in an autism-specific group home, especially if it’s a placement that they’re expected to stay in even after reaching the age of majority)
- Or people who can’t figure out a way to get their children out safely. For instance, if someone’s abusive spouse is far more socially powerful than they are, and would probably get custody of the kids, they might not be able to leave
- Or any number of other reasons
- This stuff gets complicated
And… not being able to leave doesn’t mean that you’re weak. Or that the abuse you’re suffering isn’t real. Or that it’s mild. Or that it’s your fault. Or that you’re somehow volunteering for it, or that you somehow want it. Or that you’re just making excuses.
It just means that you’re in an awful situation. And that maybe protecting yourself has to come in forms other than leaving. Leaving is the best way, if you can, but it’s not the only thing.
- It may be more dangerous for a person to leave their abuser even if they are an adult. Some abusers will kill their victims if they leave, some abusers are not above kidnapping or assaulting their victims IN PUBLIC.
- Complete lack of support from family or friends - having no place to go, lack of knowledge of available resources in the area to help leaving (like a woman’s shelter) (- or no way to access them), not having any resources to leave (aka. no job, car, anywhere else to go, ect), ect.
- Not being believed about the abuse by family or friends - who urge the victim to stay in the abusive relationship (“you just need to patch things up” - “you’re making a mountain out of a mull-hill” - “you married them”, “but you’re so strong, no one could abuse you”, “you’re crazy / imagining things / made it all up”, ect, ect, ect).
- Other social constraints that may cause extreme social stigma if the victim leaves the abuser (being of a religion that doesn’t believe in divorce, abuser is held in high esteem either by others) - basically anything that means the victim is going to further suffer (/be socially punished) for leaving the abuser
- The extreme amount of manipulation that abusers use to keep their victims alone is reason enough - this can be as simple as promising to change (and “if you love me, you’ll stay”), all the way to gas-lighting (trying to convince the victim they’re crazy and incapable of taking care of themselves) and putting the victim in a place where they have no resources to leave (keeping victim from family and friends, not allowing them to leave the house, not allowing them to get a job, or even keeping them intoxicated to the point where they can’t leave).
Just thought I’d add to the list.
There’s lots of reasons why people stay in abusive situations. Some of the things I listed are my personal experience, some are things I’ve heard many times from other survivors.
Yes to all of that. That said… I’m a little worried about my post.
Because sometimes – sometimes people convince abuse victims that it’s impossible to leave. Sometimes people convince them of that when they could leave. Sometimes people are inadvertently complicit in helping abusers convince victims that they’d die if they left.
I don’t want to do that to anyone.
Especially, for me, what enabled me to leave an awful situation was friends who kept reassuring me that it was possible.
So - some people can’t leave. And it’s important to acknowledge that. But it’s also important to acknowledge that some people who think they can’t leave are mistaken about that, and might benefit from help figuring that out.