There is no "Just"
The word just implies that something is easy and quick.
So to ask someone in an abusive relationship why they don't just leave is damaging. It is a deeply offensive and insensitive question. It implies that leaving an abuser is a simple, quick process. When often, nothing could be further from the truth.
There are so many reasons why someone is still with their abuser, and none of them are simple.
One of the first acts of an abuser is isolation. They isolate their partner from their friends and family, thus removing any support network. Their partner is alone and has nowhere to turn. Their abuser is their whole world; they are allowed no life outside them.
Isolation can be a slow process; it might start with an abuser objecting to their partner meeting up with friends. Then they start to get annoyed when they call, then text. They make their feelings clear, whether that is through verbal, physical, or psychological aggression. The partner doesn’t want to incur the wrath of their abuser, so they stop talking to their friend.
This happens with everyone in the partner’s life until they have nobody left but their abuser.
Even if the abuser has no job, controlling all the money is essential. The abuser can not risk their partner getting their hands on enough money to leave. So they control every penny that comes in and goes out of the house. Often, not even leaving their partner with enough money to buy food or clothes for their children. They have made sure they are utterly reliant on them for everything. That gives the abuser the ultimate power. Stay with me, or you and your children starve.
Leaving would mean having no money, no house, nothing. Starting over from the very beginning, the idea of that is too much for some people to handle.
It’s Better the Devil you Know
Than the devil you don’t. Their abuser has convinced them that there are far worse people out there. They tell their partner horror stories about people and the evil things they have done. Telling them that what happens to them is nothing compared to what would happen to them out there.
Imagine someone beat you so badly you thought you were going to die. This happens when you are together; imagine what they would do if you left.
Abusers will often threaten their victims with death, and why wouldn't they believe them? Some even threaten to kill the children if their partner leaves.
Staying together for the sake of the children is unhealthy for everyone. But if a child is forced to witness domestic violence, this is legally considered child abuse.
Divorce is complicated enough when children are involved at the best of times. But to have to co-parent with an abusive person is a special kind of torment.
Some victims of abuse genuinely believe their abuser loves them. That they do these unspeakable things because they care so much about them. It is almost like a kind of Stockholm Syndrome, and in these cases, I think the mind is protecting itself. Others hope their abuser will change who they are and become the person they have always wanted.
I suppose nobody wants to admit they married someone evil. So they convince themselves that there is a good person in there somewhere.
Abuse is never just physical. There is also a disturbing amount of verbal and psychological abuse happening too. Years of name-calling, blame-shifting, and gaslighting have removed any confidence their partner once had. They have been told they are ugly, and nobody else will want them. That they’re lucky anyone even puts up with them because they’re so useless.
When you get told these things often enough, you start to believe them. And eventually, they become so deeply ingrained within you that you cannot see anything good about yourself.
Some vile people will shame domestic violence survivors. With stupid phrases like; “why didn’t you just leave?" Or other horrid things like “well, sometimes you could be taken down a peg or two. You know how mouthy you get.” Something my mother said to me after I was punched in the stomach by my ex-boyfriend.
This is not your shame; it is theirs and only theirs. Never let anyone try to tell you otherwise.
Some religious groups are so strict that they shun divorcees. So if you get divorced, you not only lose your spouse but your whole community. They are so against divorce that you could be stripped of everything you love about your life because someone is abusing you.
Get help and get out
If you're being abused then please, consider getting help. It’s not going to get better, no matter what they tell you. You’ll repeat the same cycles of abuse and love-bombing that you’ve been going through for years. Abusers don’t just suddenly stop.
Look for places you can go, contact the police and ask them how they can help you. Look for refuges, hostels, anyone who can help you. There are people out there who are fully trained to help and protect you; let them do their job while you focus on finding peace.