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How He Prevents Her From Leaving

“Why doesn’t she just leave him?” is the question most people ask.   Perhaps the questions should be, ”What is he doing to prevent her from leaving?”  Abusers make a conscious choice to manipulate, control and keep their victim from leaving.  Abusers know their victims very well and will use what is most precious and frightening to the victim to coerce them into staying.  The reality is that violent partners do whatever they can to make leaving impossible for their victims.  The following is a list of just a few of the ways that abusers have admitted to using to keep their victims from leaving: 

  • I have threatened to kill her if she leaves.
  • I have threatened to kill the children if she leaves.
  • I have threatened to kill her pets if she leaves.
  • I have told her she will never be free of me.
  • I remind her that I have all the money.
  • I have kept her isolated from others so that she has nowhere to go.
  • I told her I would ruin her financially.
  • I told her family to convince her to stay.
  • I convinced her friends that I was a good guy to get them on my side.
  • I told her that she couldn’t leave for the children’s sake; it will hurt them to lose their father.
  • I told her that she would lose her standing in the community.
  • I told her she would be cast out of church.
  • I told her that she would be disobeying God if she left me.
  • I told her that no one would help her and those shelter places are for those who really need help.
  • I would chip away at her self-esteem so she believed she wasn’t capable of leaving.
  • I would scare her so badly that she couldn’t think straight and couldn’t make a plan to leave.
  • I told her that she would be the one responsible for breaking up our home and what would her family say?
  • I threatened to get sole custody of the children.
  • I threatened to tell the world she is a bad mother.
  • I threatened to turn her into child protective services if she leaves.
  • I said I would tell everyone she is crazy and that I would prove it by pointing out her erratic behavior.
  • I convinced her she was crazy.
  • I told her I would prove to everyone she was a “whore” or a “slut” if she ever left.
  • I moved us way out into the country so she couldn’t get help.
  • I made sure that we didn’t have a phone.
  • I rigged the car so she could only drive to work and back.
  • I convinced everyone she is mentally ill, sick, weak, stupid, and otherwise unable to take care of herself or the children.
  • I held onto all her important legal documents and those of the children.
  • I wouldn’t let her work so she wouldn’t have any money and no work history.
  • I sabotaged her jobs so she would always get fired and made it hard for her to get a new job.
  • I ruined her relationships so she had nowhere to go.
  • I told the kids she was nuts so they wouldn’t respect her.
  • I would brainwash the children so that they wouldn’t go with her, and I knew she wouldn’t leave without them.
  • I wouldn’t allow her to go to school or job training, so she wouldn’t have skills to support a family.
  • I made her hit the children (“You hit them or I will and I hit harder!”) and threatened her with that information if she ever left.
  • I threatened to destroy all of her belongings.
  • I said I would find her and rape her if she ever left.
  • I would play mind games with her and confuse her so much that she doesn’t know what is going on.
  • I know I had her convinced that she is a bad person and mother.
  • I convinced her she couldn’t live without me.
  • I convinced her that I really love her and that her love could change me.
  • I told her I would change without her having to tell anyone or leave me.
  • I convinced her not to leave if I got into drug/alcohol treatment.
  • I told her that if she ever left me I would kill myself.
  • I locked up all her stuff.
  • I reminded her there were a lot of worse guys out there.
  • I told her that those emergency shelters were always full and she would be better off at home.
  • I would sometimes be extra helpful and nice to convince her to stay.
  • I told her that we could work things out.
  • I told her that I have helped her so many times and how she needs to stick by me.
  • I told her I was just stressed out and when the stress is over, the violence will end.
  • I told her that she just has to accept me for who I am and that she knew I had a temper when she married me.
  • I reminded her that the last time she left it only made things worse.
  • I asked her if she really wanted the kids to be without a father.
  • I would confuse her and agree that she should leave because it was her fault.
  • I reminded her of all the good times we had together.
  • I convinced her that no one else would ever love her.
  • I put on this big “I’m sorry” act, give her flowers and treat her nice.
  • I told her that if she was a good mother, she wouldn’t leave just because things were “hard”.
  • I told her that if she leaves me she wouldn’t have any health insurance.

Provided by Solutions, a Batterer Intervention Program in Salem, Oregon.


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