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

Popular Right Now

8 Reasons Why My Dad Is the Most Important Man In My Life

Forever my number one guy.

Growing up, there's been one consistent man I can always count on, my father. In any aspect of my life, my dad has always been there, showing me unconditional love and respect every day. No matter what, I know that my dad will always be the most important man in my life for many reasons.

1. He has always been there.

Literally. From the day I was born until today, I have never not been able to count on my dad to be there for me, uplift me and be the best dad he can be.

2. He learned to adapt and suffer through girly trends to make me happy.

I'm sure when my dad was younger and pictured his future, he didn't think about the Barbie pretend pageants, dressing up as a princess, perfecting my pigtails and enduring other countless girly events. My dad never turned me down when I wanted to play a game, no matter what and was always willing to help me pick out cute outfits and do my hair before preschool.

3. He sends the cutest texts.

Random text messages since I have gotten my own cell phone have always come my way from my dad. Those randoms "I love you so much" and "I am so proud of you" never fail to make me smile, and I can always count on my dad for an adorable text message when I'm feeling down.

4. He taught me how to be brave.

When I needed to learn how to swim, he threw me in the pool. When I needed to learn how to ride a bike, he went alongside me and made sure I didn't fall too badly. When I needed to learn how to drive, he was there next to me, making sure I didn't crash.

5. He encourages me to best the best I can be.

My dad sees the best in me, no matter how much I fail. He's always there to support me and turn my failures into successes. He can sit on the phone with me for hours, talking future career stuff and listening to me lay out my future plans and goals. He wants the absolute best for me, and no is never an option, he is always willing to do whatever it takes to get me where I need to be.

6. He gets sentimental way too often, but it's cute.

Whether you're sitting down at the kitchen table, reminiscing about your childhood, or that one song comes on that your dad insists you will dance to together on your wedding day, your dad's emotions often come out in the cutest possible way, forever reminding you how loved you are.

7. He supports you, emotionally and financially.

Need to vent about a guy in your life that isn't treating you well? My dad is there. Need some extra cash to help fund spring break? He's there for that, too.

8. He shows me how I should be treated.

Yes, my dad treats me like a princess, and I don't expect every guy I meet to wait on me hand and foot, but I do expect respect, and that's exactly what my dad showed I deserve. From the way he loves, admires, and respects me, he shows me that there are guys out there who will one day come along and treat me like that. My dad always advises me to not put up with less than I deserve and assures me that the right guy will come along one day.

For these reasons and more, my dad will forever be my No. 1 man. I love you!

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Why I Appreciate My Parents So Much

This is for my two biggest supporters.


One thing I've noticed, the older I've gotten, is how much I appreciate my parents.

We've become so close, it's almost funny to think at one point I looked at them so much differently. When I was younger, my parents were much more strict than they are now. They disciplined differently and didn't let me do certain things. The older I've gotten, the more freedom I've gotten, which is one big sigh of relief.

My parents are such great people. Throughout my whole life, I've always had friends of parents or people who know my parents tell me how great they both are. I'm so blessed to have been raised by them and to have gotten their characteristics.

My mom is so loving and generous, and she thinks of literally everyone else in her life before herself. She's smart and funny, and she is always there when I need someone to talk to. She's taught me how to be courteous, kind, funny (with her sense of humor), and most importantly, accepting towards others.

The older I get, the more I realize how similar I am to her. She's my favorite woman in the whole world. We understand each other.

My dad is a thoughtful, hilarious, wise, and helpful guy who has taught me so many lessons throughout the years. He always makes sure my finances are in order, even more than I do. He keeps me laughing with his funny stories and made-up songs that he sings. He always asks me how my day was every time I walk through the door. He is so adorable and thoughtful, and I'm so happy I got his wit and humor.

His smile lights up a room and I'm so happy I've been hearing his laugh and will continue to for the rest of my life.

Another great thing about my parents is that they've taught me what love looks like. They're so loving, kind, and patient towards each other. I've rarely ever seen them fight in my life. They still treat one another how they did when they first started dating. I have friends and know people whose parents aren't together, and I'm so lucky to say I can't imagine what that's like.

My parents complete each other; they are soulmates. I'm so lucky and appreciative that I get to have the honor of watching their love play out throughout their lives.

I'm so happy and thankful that these are the parents I ended up with. They're the best. I hope to be half of my parents when I become a parent myself.

Related Content

Facebook Comments