Why Didn't She Leave?

Why Didn't She Leave?

All voices need to be heard.

One of our writers recently reached out to me and asked that I post this article on their behalf. While powerfully written and relevant, the piece is also incredibly personal and potentially painful to those the author loves. This is what makes sharing the article all the more important; all voices need to be heard. Just as this author has bravely given a voice to the silent, I am proud to share this piece for them.

It is articles like this that remind me of why I decided to write for Odyssey, and why I continue my work for the Emory Community. I hope this article resonates with you all just as it has with me.

I grew up watching my dad beat my mom. There is no question that angers me more and digs more deep than “why didn’t she just leave?” when discussing survivors of domestic violence. It’s understandable that people ask. I used to and felt some resentment about it. But the question “why didn’t she just leave” is something that has given me a lot to think about.

Women in situations of domestic violence can never “just leave.” It’s not that simple. A woman is more at risk of being murdered by when she leaves an abusive relationship than at any other time, and it’s not like some women don’t try.

In my case, I used to wish my mom just left and that my parents would have just separated. I wished that the one time we called the police, he would just go to jail and that would be that. I live my life now trying to be everything he wasn’t, trying to avoid the same modes of aggression and violence that he once was responsible for. I make mistakes. I know that. I just never, ever want to make his mistakes.

But then I realized life doesn’t work that way, and that my mom could have been killed if she left. A survivor of domestic violence is 70 times more likely to be murdered after leaving a relationship. If she took me and my siblings and left, I know my dad would have been angry beyond bounds, and just imagining what he would have done hurts. And I think she knew that. I never was thankful for the fact that although my mom was beaten, bruised, and abused verbally and emotionally, I at least had her around and she was alive. An imperfect and brutal situation was better than none at all.

We moved houses 10 times when I was a kid. The last thing she wanted was for us to move again, because she saw how hurt we were every time we had to clean the slate, move to a new school and make new friends. I see that now, and eventually I see how she handled the tough situation she was in with an incredible amount of grace. She worked the night shift at work so they wouldn’t be together. She slept in a different room, sometimes ours, when things were especially bad.

It hurts when I see happy families eat dinner together, every night of the week. On one level, I wish I had that. On another, I’m glad we didn’t, because I don’t know what would have happened.

She didn’t leave after all those years because she was tough, strong, and fierce. She didn’t leave because despite his cruelty, she still loved him and always gave him the benefit of the doubt, no matter what he did. Despite the monster he was, he was still our father, and a decent one at that, who, despite his flaws, kept food on the table and a roof above our heads. And because she was so fierce, she would never say she was abused, and never use that word to describe the situation, and above all, never admit that sometimes, she was powerless. It’s on me to respect that wish, because that was the way she coped with and handled things.

I just wish she knew that my siblings and I weren’t as fierce, that what happened in that house would mess us up for life. I wish she knew that everything happened had an effect. But I make sure, every time I see her, that she knows that because of her guiding force, now I’m fierce. She doesn’t want me to talk about it to other people, but I can’t just keep a band-aid over it. The healing path of Jesus Christ demands that I make my peace over it.

I wish she knew that the one time we called the police, we thought he was going to kill her, or else we wouldn’t have called 911. But she didn’t leave for us. At the end of the day, it was always for us. We are thoughtful beyond bounds because of her example. We learned what it truly was to persevere through adversity, and as a part of that, I want to put her story, and our story out there.

‘I was able to end my own crazy love story by breaking the silence. I'm still breaking the silence today,” Leslie Morgan Steiner, a survivor of domestic violence said. “It's my way of helping other victims, and it's my final request of you. Talk about what you heard here. Abuse thrives only in silence.’

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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18 Things That Happen When You Get A Good Roommate

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Whenever you hear about roommate stories, they're almost never good, and they usually scare you into never wanting a roommate. "Did you hear her roommate steals her clothes?" "Her roommate doesn't shower!" "Wow, her roommate doesn't talk at all, and doesn't do laundry." From what I hear, there are more bad stories than good. That is why I consider myself lucky, because my roommate is nothing like one of those bad stories. When life hands you a good roommate after talking to about 40 girls through Facebook, a few things happen.

1. You always have someone to talk to.

2. You know each other's schedules and whenever you both have a break is an exciting time.

3. You'll never have to dance alone.

4. You always have someone to do something with, even if it's just walking down the hall.

5. You both look out for each other, because this is your first time without your parents.

6. You always have a shoulder to lean on when things get tough.

7. Borrowing each other's things is a daily thing.

8. You TRY to help with each other's homework and assignments.

9. They're encouraging when it comes to boys (unless they're a f*ckboy).

10. They're your biggest support system and your personal cheerleader.

11. They never forget to wish you luck on a big exam.

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13. You both know each other's favorite and least favorite things.

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Cover Image Credit: Jordan Griffin

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We All Need An 'In Color' Conversation, While We Still Can

The best way to keep memories is to pass them down.


I love country music, especially a little older country music that tells a true story. One of my favorite songs from any genre is "In Color" by Jamey Johnson. It's one of the most relatable songs for anyone from any background. As you listen to it you feel the descriptions and the emotions Johnson is trying to get across.

Jamey Johnson - In Color YouTube

The song starts out with a grandkid asking about a picture and if it's his granddad. A simple question that can start a vast conversation and pass down memories of old times. This specific picture causes the grandfather to start speaking on the tough times in the 1930s and life on a cotton farm. For me, I can feel the same way that Johnson felt hearing the memories his grandfather passed down to him because my grandfather has told me the same memories about growing up in the south in the 1930s on a large piece of farmland.

The second verse goes into the grandfather showing a picture of him and his tail gunner Johnny McGee. He gives the information that McGee is a teacher from New Orleans and he had his back throughout the war. Though my granddad has never gone into anything that happened overseas in Korea, he will tell you stories for days about Camp Roberts in California. There's even a large picture of Camp Roberts hanging in his house. It's understandable he won't talk about what happened overseas because some Veterans will just tuck it away and it's how they handle it; however, hearing the tales about his basic training, his time on a boat headed overseas, and seeing pictures in his uniform still mean a lot to me.

My favorite story he talks about is how he was used to running the fields on a farm just outside Phenix City and was used to running in the heat, but the guys from up north(especially Chicago and New York) would drop like flies from the dry California heat.

The third and final verse describes a picture from their wedding. According to the granddad, it was a hot June that year before telling how red the rose was and how blue her eyes were. For most anyone, you will hear about your grandparents' wedding day and possibly see some pictures. My granddad to this day still talks about how blonde my grandmother was back then. It just helps bring my emotions more into the song.

The one thing Johnson does say in the song that most people feel when hearing these stories or looking at black and white pictures is "A pictures worth a thousand words, but you can't see what those shades of gray keep covered, you should have seen it in color." There's a lot of stories I've heard from either my parents or grandparents and wished I could have been there.

The music video for the song is so simple as well yet one of the best music videos I have ever seen. It starts in Black and white with Jamey Johnson sitting on a stool playing an acoustic guitar surrounded by hundreds of black and white pictures. It just brings the entire vibe of the song together. After the second chorus, the video starts to change from black and white to colorized and you see the pictures in their true colors.

The first time I had a true "In Color" conversation my step-granddad on my mom's side who was the only granddad I had known for that side of the family was declining in health. I was 9 or 10 and an in-home nurse had been talking to him about all his life experiences and told me to go in and talk to my Paw Paw about them. I learned about his father died when he was 14 by getting kicked by a mule and about his many years of service in the National Guard. At that time I never realized how major that was but as I look back those are the moments I cherish and I will pass down those memories as well as the numerous times he'd run your feet over with his electric scooter.

In eighth grade, I did a project on my dad's father and pulled out a box of old black and white pictures. These pictures ranged from him as a boy, his great grandfather, his first car, him in his service uniform, on up to him in suits on his business trips for the Columbus mills. I was older then and around the time I cherished learning more about his life and wish I knew where that box was just to have a look again.

A couple years ago around my 21st birthday, I had an "In Color" conversation with my mother about my dad looking through pictures while drinking Boone's Farm Strawberry Hill wine. It had almost been two years since my father's death and though I'd had plenty of conversations about his high school days on the football field playing for ol' Dickie Brown to stealing Mr. Gays Batmobile to getting three licks pretty often. I'd even heard these stories from different friends of his from high school and hearing different sides makes you feel more and more like you were there. As we sat there looking at pictures my mom told my wife Sarina who hadn't heard many of the stories and I knew and old stories about her life and my dad's life till 4 in the morning.

In conclusion, pictures can be passed down from generation to generation but unless you go through and talk about them then you won't pass down the story happening in the pictures. It is especially important just to sit down with a grandparent, a parent, an aunt or uncle, or an elder from your church or community to learn wisdom and about their life. I've had times I'll see an older couple or just an elder sitting alone at a restaurant and will pay for their meal(even if you can tell they have the money it's just a respect thing) or just talk to them. It can usually make their day and make them happy to share about their life with you if they don't have anyone else to. So let's keep the memories alive!

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