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Nonprofit View: ‘Why doesn’t she just leave?’

“Why doesn’t she just leave?” It’s a question we hear all the time. We all know someone who has been, or is being abused, and we ask the question to our friends, family, coworkers, but never the victim. “Why doesn’t she just leave?”

Maybe if you had asked her instead, she would have told you. Maybe she would have let you know that her abuser threatened to kill her and her children if she ever left.

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Maybe she would have told you that he made her quit her job and she doesn’t have access to the bank account because it’s “his” money.

Or maybe, all of her friends and family gave up on her after not hearing from her for months, not knowing that he broke her phone in a fit of rage and refuses to buy her another one.

Maybe she feels like she has no one for support and nowhere to go, and to her, living with the abuse is better than being homeless with children.

Maybe if you had just asked her (or him), she would have known that people still care about her, and there are resources available for people experiencing domestic violence.

Family and Children’s Services is one of those resources that has a skilled and knowledgeable team who can help. According to the Center for Disease Control, one in four women and one in seven men report having been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner. In Carroll County alone, there were 45 final protective order hearings in June of 2019. This epidemic is closer to home than many realize.

Family and Children’s Services aims to help those who experience violence. The agency offers numerous supportive services to victims and their families, such as safety planning, court accompaniment, counseling, emergency temporary shelter, support groups and a safe space to process. Family and Children’s Services wants every victim to know that they are not alone and that we understand why you can’t “just leave” but also, that there is help if you need it.

It may not be easy, but you can leave, you can get through this, and Family and Children’s Services will be there to help every step of the way. And to those who aren’t being abused, but know someone who is, we challenge you. Instead of asking “why doesn’t she just leave?” ask if she knows there are resources available for people experiencing abuse. Offer to sit with her while she calls, or to drop her off at the office, because remember, it’s not as simple as “just leave.”

If you or anyone you know needs help, please call or text our 24-hour hotline at 443-865-8031.

Sarah Harvey is an advocate for Family and Children’s Services.

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