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Why Don't They Just Leave?

Should you tell your friend to break up with their partner who is hurting them? 

You care about your friend, and you want them to be happy. You might think that telling them to break up or leave will help them to be safe. It’s not safe advice. A breakup can be most dangerous time in a relationship.  

There are many reasons why someone might stay in an abusive relationship:

Normalization of abuse“This is my normal.”
Love of their partner“I don’t want to end my relationship. I just want the abuse to stop.”
Fear of their partner“I can’t predict what they might do if we break up.”
Status and/or low self-esteem“I’d rather be with them than by myself.”
“We all have the same friends in common. If I lose them, I lose my people.”
Safety Concerns“They’ve threatened to hurt me or my family/pets/best friends.”

Additional barriers that play into leaving an abusive relationship include:

  • LGBTQ teens who are not out with their family or in their school may be scared that a partner will share their identity to get power.
  • Family or cultural ideas about gender or expectations may stop them from ending the relationships because they feel ashamed.
  • Often, they feel responsible for abusive behaviors because their partner might say or do things to shame or blame them. Their partner’s actions are not their fault.
  • They may not feel like they have the support system needed for leaving, including shelter, resources, counseling and legal aid.







The bottom line: leaving a partner who abuses is a process, not a single event. Instead of saying, “You need to break up with them,” try saying, “What would help you to be safe?” 

It takes extensive planning, a strong support system and resources like personalized safety plans for anybody who could be at risk. Be patient with your friend or loved one and try to support them as best you can.

> Learn More: Make a safety plan with a Green Flags pro

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