National Domestic Violence Hotline Blog

Teen Mom Recap: Why Doesn’t April Just Leave?

photo credit: mtv.comSome people might watch this past episode of Teen Mom and wonder what is wrong with April. How can she not know if she is going to leave Butch or not? In our society, this is a pretty typical response to survivors who stay in relationships, and it actually shifts the blame to the victim for the abuse, and away from the person who was actually violent. If she would just leave, this wouldn’t happen, right? In this situation, whether April stays in the relationship or not, she doesn’t deserve to be attacked and hurt.

There are a few things going on that many people who make that judgment about survivors don’t take into account. Leaving an abusive relationship is an extremely dangerous time. Abusive partners often escalate their violent behavior when they feel their sense of power and control in the relationship is lessening.

There may be other reasons why leaving doesn’t seem possible at the moment, like not having financial resources to find a new home. Ending a relationship is a complex, emotional process in the best of circumstances. Even though Butch has been abusive and unsafe, April may still care about him and what to see him get help.

There may come a day when she knows for sure that walking away is the right decision for her, but it’s ok if it takes some time for her to figure out what she wants to do.

This excerpt from Advocacy Beyond Leaving by Jill Davies explains this process:

Victims are not masochists bent on suffering, nor are they living in a fantasy world. Victims do what we all do – deal with what life hands us. For some, remaining or leaving is a formal decision, a weighing of pros and cons. For others it is informal, simply coping with the current situation because it seems tolerable or there are no better options or alternatives. Most victims cope with the bad and hope for the better, living with the status quo, making the decisions they must, and doing what they can do to make things better along the way. Leaving is not a simple decision, nor one easily made.

Not knowing if you want to stay in or end an abusive relationship is perfectly natural. However, it’s very important to think about how you can stay as safe as possible while you’re trying to decide.

Think about what happens in your relationship: What can you do to be safe? Who can you talk to and ask for help from? What are the red flags that your partner will become more violent or dangerous? When do you know you have to leave or call the police in order to stay safe?

There are some risks that are often indications of potentially dangerous and lethal situations.  Some of the red flags that you may be in an extremely dangerous situation are:

  • If physical violence has gotten worse or happens more frequently in the last few months
  • If your partner has ever used a weapon or threatened you with a weapon
  • If your partner is violently jealous of you and who you talk to

(Campbell, et al, 2009, www.dangerassessment.org)

Remember, you can always talk to a Hotline advocate for support.

29 replies
  1. Rayeann says:

    I left an abusive relationship just under 2 years ago. I was with my abuser for almost 3 years. I agree that it is extremely hard to leave. I still love the man who used to hit me and control me. Like my counselor told me before, love in an abusive relationship is more intense. It sounds crazy but is so true. It took my ex going to jail and for me to not see him for a week for me to finally leave for good. People need to be more understanding and not so judgmental.

    • HotlineAdmin_RE says:

      Rayeann,
      Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences with our blog community. You’re right; it takes an enormous amount of strength and suopport to leave an abusive relationship. I am glad to hear you are moving forward and working with a counselor. If you need to talk to someone, or would like to look for local domestic violence support groups, you are always welcome to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

      HotlineAdvocate_RE

  2. Kwol says:

    People asked me why i didnt leave my abusive marriage sooner than I did. It took getting choked in front of my son on Christmas morning for me to leave and never look back. Each case of abuse is different. We all have different things that hold us back and everyone’s breaking point is different. Judging someone who is dealing with abuse is ignorant. It’s making yourself strong enough to leave that’s the challenge.

    • HotlineAdmin_RE says:

      Kwol,
      Thank you for sharing your story with our blog community. There are many reasons why someone in an abusive relationship would chose not to leave. It may be for financial, familial, or even safety reasons. You’re right, every story is different in its own way. People face different challenges. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. If you need someone to talk to, or would like to look for local resources for domestic violence survivors, you are always welcome to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.

      HotlineAdvocate_RE

  3. cindy says:

    my storey is on face book its called domestic violence how i survived to tell my storey i was left for dead with 7 stab wounds and my head smashed in with a tire iron ,i was not given a fifty fifty chance to live ,,please read my storey ,,it reads like a book start with page 1 ,,if not go to notes and read them ,,I to this day still suffer post tramatic stress ,,,,please get out before its to late ,love can kill u dead,,

    • HotlineAdmin_RE says:

      Cindy,
      Thank you for sharing your story with our blog community. From what you’ve shared, it sounds like you’ve survived awful abuse, and lived to share your story. If you’d like to talk to someone, you are always welcome to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, at 1-800-799-7233. We are 24/7 and are completely anonymous and confidential. You’ve been through a lot and you deserve support.

      HotlineAdvocate_RE

  4. petra says:

    Leaving an bausive relationship is not easy and we dont enjoy being abused. it took me two trime to leve mine first time I thought he had changed and also most importahnt the fear if you do leave.mine has threatened me and our son that he will kill us if we ever leave and trust me once you have been choked or had knifes to your throat!! you do belive them and he did it in front of my son. we fianlly left 2 years ago after 13 years of marriage and we still dont give our address out and have a safety plan in place my child will be 13 and we still cant fully relax. he has no visitaion or access except for email which has become harassing and I went to court for that but even them are not alwyas there to protect you. so dont judge and ask WHY she doesnt leave how about WHY they abuse instead??!!!!!!
    One day I hope that is the first question that is asked.
    be safe and God bless you all

    • HotlineAdmin_RE says:

      Petra,
      Thank you for sharing your story with our blog community. I am glad to hear that you and your child were safely able to get out of the abusive relationship. Oftentimes, even if you are no longer physically with an abusive partner, the emotional abuse and control will continue. It sounds like your ex is using his access to you and your son to be even more abusive and threatening. Have you contacted any local domestic violence programs for help? Sometimes a shelter or domestic violence program will have an advocate on staff who helps victims/survivors of abuse get a protective order if they need to. You are welcome to call us here at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, at 1-800-799-7233. An advocate on the Hotline could look up local resources for additional support.

      HotlineAdvocate_RE

  5. Amber says:

    I was just wondering. My mother in law is verbally abused adn her husband is doing it to my husband, starting to do it to me and I am afraid that he will do it to my 3 year daughter here soon. Is there anyway that we can get this man out of the picture? Is verbal abuse illegal enough to get the cops to take him away? What proof will need to be contained? I would like to pull my mother in law out of this situation for her sake as well as all of ours. This man needs to know he is doing wrong. But, whenever she has tried to leave in the past, he drives after her and literally picks her up and throws her in his trucks and brings her back. She is not aloud to leave. So, I know unless authorities get involved and get him out of the house, then there is no way she will be able to get away. We have told her that when we move out, we are taking her with but he monitors her 24/7. Her phone calls, her activities (she is not aloud to go anywhere with us). So, I would really like to know what can be done, so when we are ready to move, she can come with us, without fear of him turning violent.

    • HotlineAdmin_RE says:

      Amber,
      Thank you for contacting the Share Your Voice blog. I understand why you are concerned for your mother-in-law’s safety. It sounds like her husband is very abusive and controlling. Leaving an abusive partner can be one of the most dangerous times. It’s important that if you are trying to help your mother-in-law leave, that he not know anything about what you’re planning with her. Depending on what the laws are in her state, she may be able to get some kind of order of protection as an added layer of safety. It’s hard to safety plan without knowing the individual risks and options available to her, so I would enourage you to give the Holtine a call at 1-800-799-7233 if you’d like to talk to someone at more length about how you may be able to help her. Also, you can find information about how to help a family member being abused here: http://www.thehotline.org/get-educated/how-can-i-help-a-friend-or-family-member-who-is-being-abused/

      HotlineAdvocate_RE

  6. Margret says:

    Document, document, document. Write it down, date it, name wittnesses, then make a plan of escape for her. When she is ready (you cannot force her) use that plan. Let her walk outside for a bogus reason, put her in a car and if he follows, call police if he touches her in any way.

    • HotlineAdmin_RE says:

      Margret,
      Thank you for sharing your tips with our blog community. You are right; documentation can be really helpful to have, whether that’s pictures or even written accounts of what’s going on. What we know is that every situation is different, and what worked for one person may not work for another. Leaving can be a very dangerous time, so I would encourage any one making a plan to leave, or helping a victim get out of an abusive relationship to take all measures to do so as safely as possible.

      HotlineAdvocate_RE

  7. sarah says:

    I have been married for two years , my husband has been physically and mentally abusive towards me , never in the four years of our relationship when he would beat me I wouldn’t call the cops just out,of fear of what he would do when he got out , being a high school drop out I was dependent on him ,a month ago because I was confronting him about having another woman in the bed we,sleep in we got into an altercation n he started Choking me ,he punched me in my eye an took an iron stick and hit my thigh so hard it ripped MY Jeans,open and to today it still has a black mark on my leg , I decided that was the end , I moved , unfortunately to upstairs where my mom lives. my husband is now dating a tenant in the apartment building we live in , yesterday morning she called the cops on me accusing me of threaten her , I told the cops I haven’t seen,her in almost a month nor did I send threats I was asleep when the cops arrived I starjustted crying wondering how someone could be so cruel to someone you say you love , .

    • HotlineAdmin_MB says:

      Sarah,

      I am very sorry that you had to endure such aggressive abuse. No one ever deserves to be choked or hit. I am glad to hear that you have moved in with your mom and are no longer living in an abusive environment, though it sounds like it is not the perfect situation with him still so near. Abusive individuals are hurtful because they want to have power and control over their intimate partner. You did not do anything to warrant being hurt. If you would like further guidance and support or a referral for a counselor in your area you can call 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 for help. You can also talk to an advocate about options for other living arrangements away from your ex. I am glad you reached out to our blog community. Take care and stay strong.

      Hotlineadvocate_MB

  8. deb says:

    Sarah,
    I am confused and I know you are and rightfully so. Not only are you dealing with the trauma of being abused and trying to move on which I am so happy to hear you were able to get out. Yet now you have to be faced with his “new life” every waking moment. What is confusing is you ask and I am assuming its your ex you are referring to…How can someone be so cruel to someone they say they love. The key is say…its easy to say i love you its the feeling of love that doesn’t connect with abuse. While he may have loved you he severely abused you and sounds like he still is mentally. You own none of this and deserve to be loved. Its why we stayed so long waiting for the magical moment when they really did love us. What is love? define it and you will have your answer. You are in my thoughts and continue your journey as you move toward a life free from abuse and worry.

  9. reyna says:

    when i met my husband 4 years ago, he was nice, then we started arguing when we moved in together, i spent a lot or should i say all my money on bills, and house hold good, and of corse he says he never spent nothing on me like i did on him, sure he paid some bills and part rent, but for a long time he spent to this day actually on beer, and making bar b q;s for his friends, told me i didn’t deserve nothing cause i am too fat, ugly, worthless. well stupid me i ended up marrying him, cause he started to be good, then the beating started, first he was drunk, and i didnt want trouble,but he hit me. then after we were married, we had to leave the house to an appartment, so when he won his law suit of 26g’s he told me i didn’t deserve anything, so all he did was drink his money away, he spent on loosers and himself 15 g’s, in 4 months, buying 2,3,4 eighteen packs a day. well if you add it up, it is 18 a day, plus he gave bums on the street money, his parents, and left me in the cold, but yet i forgave him, but then he punched me out, and draged me out of the apt., with my pants to my knees, then blamed it all on me, never told me he was sorry, then before my black eyss could clear, he pushed me out of the apt, to leave knowing i had no whare to go or money, and he would not let me get nothing out, well when he pushed me i lost balance and fell so hard my wrist broke, a week later, i went to hospital well they don’t cast, so i had to go to a dr, and well my husband didn’t want to pay for it so my wrist never healed. well to this day i have trouble with my wrist, then one day we went to a bar, and of corse ordered me to leave, in a bad way, and i didn’t, i took cab home, so all i remember is i gave him money to pay cab, and i know he pushed me,out of his way well he pushed me into cement stairs, and well next thing i know is ambulance is there and they took him away, well since he paid 5,000 for bail he charges me for that cus it was my faul, well i got stiches and then i could not take it no more, the pain so i had to go back to hospitsl, turns out i was slowly hemeraging to my brain, well they gave me playtelet transfusion, he didn’t go see me at hospital, till 2 days later, and in the mean time he was drinking with neighbors, and bad mouthing me that it wat my fault.
    to this day he has never appologized to me that he never touched me, well of corse i didn’t press charges, i have no whare to go, no money, and what do i do? yes i still lov him, but not like i use to, cua now at new house he has choked me, hit me, twice. it has been a month that he has not hit me, but his verbal abuse has not changed when he drinks, next day he is so loveable, what do i do. he don’t want to go to aa, i know i am an idiot, but when you have no financial means what do you do

    • HotlineAdmin_MB says:

      Reyna,

      Wow. You are dealing with a very aggressive abuser. Choking, pushing you out, knocking you into cement stairs, breaking your wrist are horrible acts of abuse and you do not deserve to be treated that way. It sounds like you are in a very dangerous situation. You mention that he has heavy alcoholic issues, but that is not the reason he is abusive. He chooses how he is going to treat you and instead of treating you with love and kindess, he is choosing hurt.

      It can be difficult to leave when you are financially dependent on someone, but you deserve a life free of abuse. If you would like to talk to an advocate about your options please call 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233. It takes a lot of courage to reach out and tell others what is happening in your relationship, thank you for reaching out to our blog community.

      Hotlineadvocate_MB

  10. red says:

    Ok my boyfriend does not abuse me. However, I need some evidence on my part. I do not hit or burse my boyfriend but I do hurt him emotional by me being stressed out aways putting my issues on him & yelling about he’s not here. We don’t live together. What r something I can or should do to help deal with my anger issues? ????

  11. deb says:

    Reyna
    I have been there and it is so hard to leave however as hard as it is you have to in order to save your life. You are walking on eggshells and you may see the pattern now with his abuse. The tension builds and the trauma begins all over again. Don’t look for an apology from him because that would validate that he actually is wrong. They don’t take responsibility because if they did they may get help so they would ensure they wouldn’t abuse. That would mean he has to see himself as a coward which is true…men who hit women are cowards. I am sure he would’t treat his friends that way. Don’t try to reason with him please. Those answers may be answered when you get to a shelter for abused women or stay with a friend or family member. Get out ASAP without telling him a thing. Have a safety plan in place. Do not threaten that you plan to leave. Just act like you do normally aroung him. I know you love him however do that from a distance for a while until you can clear your head. Find the nearest dv agency in your area or call the hotline and they can guide you. I am so sorry for your suffering, I have been away from my abuser for 3 months now. He has been in and out of jail for 2 and 1/2 years in total of our 5yr relationship due to his brutal abuse towards me and drinking and drug use. He is now out of jail awaiting trial on 3 cases that he hurt me over the past 6 months. I am afraid still that he may come to my home and I have changed my number and the next day he got it and calls me all hours of the day and night wanting me back. I only answer once and simply say did you get help yet, don’t call me unless you are working on your own life. I truly will end contact soon. I am reading a book called No Contact and it talks about the mental relapse that occurs when we do make contact. The point is that once you are out you get to plan how you want to live in safety away from the abuse. You may have a job that you are not happy in and this will give the opportunity to grow and learn about your own strengths and needs. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. E says:

    My situation is so complex and I don’t know what to do. I have been with my bf off and on for 7 years. He has been physical twice, is emotionally and verbally abusive towards me on a daily basis that I have gotten used to it. But it does hurt when he puts me down and doesn’t believe in me. We have two children and he barely spends time with them except maybe an hour or less a day. He does not have a real job but he does work side jobs to pay the bills. I am not working but looking for work currently and I go to school full time. I cheated on him a couple times and he hates me. I know it’s not right but he doesn’t treat me right and I was hoping that this would make him leave but it didn’t. I did try to leave him three times but the first time he choked me, second time he threatened to commit suicide, and third time he got so angry that he threw stuff and broke some stuff. I am scared to leave him. He even threaten to beat any guy that I date if we broke up to a bloody pulp to set an example. He also threatened to sue me for living with him during the times I was a stay at home mom. He says I owe him. I hate him so much but stay for the kids because they love him. All he does is smoke weed and hangout downstairs when he is home. He only comes upstairs to eat and sleep. All I wanted is to have a husband, a dream home, careers, and a happy family life. We live in a one bedroom house with two kids under 5 and everytime I talked to him about making future plans he laughs at me and says I’m stupid for making fantasy goals. And that I am nothing and will never be anything in life. All I am is a whore and a golddigger. But this is a nightmare and I am so depressed and lonely. I don’t know what to do I don’t have a car, job , or a place to go.

    • HotlineAdmin_RE says:

      E,
      Thank you for contacting the Share Your Voice blog. You don’t deserve to be treated like this. It sounds like your husband has been very abusive to you over these past 7 years. As much as he may have been upset about the other relationship, he doesn’t have the right to keep taking it out on you or to berate you constantly for it. You deserve to feel safe and have someone there to support you. One thing to keep in mind, is that if you are thinking about leaving again, it’s important that he not find out that it is happening. It sounds like, before, when you’ve tried to leave, he’s gotten violent or made it really difficult for you. If you’d like to talk to someone about what’s going on, you are always welcome to call and speak with an advocate on the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. We are available 24/7 and are completely anonymous and confidential. An advocate on the Hotline could look and see what kind of help is available locally. There may be shelter or other help you could access in your community.

      HotlineAdvocate_RE

  13. sheila says:

    The scariest day of my life was the day I left my abuser….

    I am a domestic abuse survivor. My abuser was very violent and a master at controlling me. Over the course of several yrs he broke nearly every major bone in my body. A day that happened could be considered a good day for me since he was very creative with his abuse. He knew no bounds. I once sat in a chair over 48 hrs with a loaded .38 in my mouth. To get even with me for trying to leave he snatched a friend’s 6 yr old boy and held him by one ankle dangling him over a parking lot from the 6th floor.

    He was brutal. One time we went for car ride in the country side. We arrived at a lovely place where I was tied to tree in a peach orchard while migrant workers rape me all that saturday afternoon. He was also delighted to make a tidy sum of 200 bucks. The reason…I did not get his laundry done on time. After that he loved threatening me with that punishment. One weekend I lost count at around 80 men. Afterwards he took me to a breakfast and was insulted that I was not hungry. Of course I had set myself up for another stomp fest.

    As bad he physically hurt me those broken bones, cuts, burns, and bruises healed faster than the mental scars. The “baby I love you so much” one day and the beatings the next day took it’s toll. I lost my children to protect them from him, my peace of mind was shattered for years and how I did not lose my life I’ll never know. Finally I escaped. I will never forget the fear I felt while making my escape. It was the worst fear I ever felt.

    Many yrs later I still remember “evil one”. Even though in the end I won I do not want to forget the lessons I learned. Those lessons made who I am today and have helped me help others.

    Now I am founder and director of [a local DV program]. In our small rural community we want every abused woman to know our doors are open and that they are not alone. YOU ARE NOT ALONE….help is out here.

    • HotlineAdmin_RE says:

      Sheila,
      Thank you for sharing your story with our Share Your Voice blog community. You’ve been through so much! I am glad to hear you are safely out of that situation and providing hope and services for other victims and surivivors of abuse. I went ahead and removed the name of the program due to safety concerns but we really appreciate you sharing your story with our community.

      HotlineAdvocate_RE

  14. vicki says:

    My daughter is currently having a domestic abuse issue. The problem is two-fold however. She is 28 and has no job nor car. She has abused drugs for over 10 years and I have tried my best to help her. This past February she secretly moved out and back to a boyfriend she had been seeing off and on for about 5-6 years. This is my problem. I cannot help her anymore financially. She cannot live with me because i am going to school and living with my parents. She now says they are not working out and he is extremely abusive. Because she has promised so much in the past to me, I can no longer help with a roof or food or money. She hasnt had a job in years. Is there someone that can help her even though she has had problems of drug abuse. I think she is trying to do better in that department but who knows. She says he is using intraveneous drugs too. Today she said he actually held her down burned her with a cigarette and actually choked her so hard she says her adrinaline kicked in and somehow got out of the hold. I told her to call the police but she says they will both go to jail. As a mother I am so torn apart by this situation and I could go on and on with the situations. I dont know what is real and what i should worry about so i just worry. What can I do?

    • HotlineAdmin_MB says:

      Vicki,

      It is heartbreaking to know your daughter is being hurt. Choking is a very dangerous act of abuse and no one deserves to be treated that way. It sounds like you have done everything in your power to help her in the past. It is common for a victim to leave and go back to their abusive partner numerous times. Even though you are unable to help with food or money, it is still possible to support her by giving her numbers for resources and even just being there to validate and listen to her. You can call our hotline 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 for referrals in her area for shelter, counseling, and social services (for food stamps, housing, and umemployment help). Or even giving her our number to call and we can offer her guidance and support and help her locate local services.

      Thank you for reaching out to our Share Your Voice Blog community.

      Hotlineadvocate_MB

  15. Glenda says:

    I live in fear everyday.. I get yelled at and hit almost everyday. I want to leave so bad but i have no family where i live and idk where is a safe place at where i live. He takes my phone away whenever he yells at me cause i call his mom for help. I dont want to call the cops on him but i know one day i will have to. My daughter dont live with us cause im scared that he will hurt her. i see her every other day. im scared out of my mind.. Its gotten worse everyday, I called his dr asking him why he hasnt been giving him his meds. My family worries that one day they will get a call saying im dead or hurt. I do want to leave him but i dont know. Any info would be nice..

    • HotlineAdmin_RE says:

      Glenda,
      Thank you for contacting the Share Your Voice blog. I am really concerned about your safety. No one has the right to put their hands on you, for any reason. You don’t deserve to be treated like that. You mentioned that you are wanting to leave, but are not sure about where it would be safe to relocate to. Many communities have domestic violence shelters to help victims of abuse have a safe place to go, and to figure out next steps and options. If you’d like more information about local services, you are always welcome to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. We are 24/7 and are anonymous and confidential. An advocate on the Hotline could talk to you about how to get help. If you are thinking about leaving, please keep safety in mind. Trying to leave an abusive partner can be one of the most dangerous times. If you get a safe chance, please give us a call.

      HotlineAdvocate_RE

  16. sherri says:

    I am a survivor of domestic violence. I was in an abusive relationship for 7 years in which i had him arrested twice and after the first time i took him back which was a mistake. Things got worse after taking him back after the first arrest. It took me so long to leave because my family entire family was threatened, so i stayed because i did not want my children or my other family members to be harmed. I believed him when he said he would kill them all. Over the years of this abuse i suffered numerous black eyes, bruised ribs and i was even kicked and punched so hard in the leg that i had severe bruises from my upper thigh down to my calf’s. I could barely walk, my children suffered through this with me and i was terrified every day. During the last year together i was sick and tired of the mess i was in and i just gave up and said to my self if he is going to kill me then so be it but he is going to have to find me first, i refused to let him do it in my own home. That is when i got out. He was arrested and i never looked back. I am in a much better place now and it has been 6 years since i left. I have come a long way since then and i am going to college for criminal justice and i plan on working with women in human trafficking and domestic violence situations to empower women to know that they are worth everything and that they are beautiful and life is worth living.

    • HotlineAdmin_RE says:

      Sherri,
      Thank you for sharing your story with our blog community. You have been through so much. It sounds like there were reasons why you stayed, which is not unlike people we talk to every day. We know that it is very scary and that there can be many different obstacles to getting away. I am glad to hear that you are doing well, and are safely away from that relationship. A good way to get involved with domestic violence work would be to volunteer with a local program that helps victims and survivors. If that is something you’d be interested in, you are welcome to call and speak with an advocate here at the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. Local DV programs oftentimes will offer volunteer trainings or opportunities. Thank you again for your words of encouragement.

      HotlineAdvocate_RE

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