I know you told me to leave but I’m scared

Hey, Penelope. I’ve really been thinking about what you talked about. I guess I’m having a hard time knowing if I’m experiencing abuse because he’s never hit me, only broken things and screamed at me to the point I shake and get a migraine. He also says I instigate by bitching at him. Maybe I do. I don’t know.

I feel crazy, for sure, like I don’t know what’s happening. All I know is that I am very tense around him and have lost affection. I don’t want to go to a shelter. Even here in my small town in Tennessee there’s only 1 shelter and it has a 1 star rating. Would they even let me in the shelter if my life is not currently being threatened? After that, what would I do? I have no money or people I can stay with.

He does have a gun and he’s angry. I guess I just have a hard time believing he would kill me. He’s angry, but I can’t see him doing that. Unbeknownst to me, he heard our conversation and said I made him sound like a “monster.” He said if his friend described her spouse that way, he’d tell her to leave him, too. I felt so guilty because I thought, “Maybe I am to blame. Maybe I do make him, so angry he has to break doors and windows. Maybe I’m just that intolerable to be around. Maybe I really am a bitch.” I keep trying to get through the domestic violence hotline chat, but it never goes through. Also, I lost that number you gave me. Could I have that helpline number again?

Do you really think my situation is that dangerous? All I know is that I’m constantly stressed, have panic attacks, night terrors, etc. But I always think that maybe if I just change myself, I won’t feel this way. Maybe it is me. Everything was always my fault growing up.

11 replies
  1. Penelope Trunk
    Penelope Trunk says:

    First of all, anyone who is reading this and is in the same situation can call this helpline: 1-800-273-8255. There is always someone at this number who can talk with you. It’s free.

    I am posting this because I’ve been telling the person who wrote this email to leave, but she doesn’t realize she is in danger. I understand because I didn’t realize I was in danger and I didn’t leave. So I hope we can all work together and help her figure her way out.

    The nicest thing about this site is that we are a community. It gives us a chance to help other people. If you want to make a difference today, you can be the direct point of support.


  2. Monica
    Monica says:

    If he is breaking things around you, you are in more danger than you know. Anyone who blames another for their actions is toxic and only a few steps away from justifying their behavior in harming or killing someone.

    Please leave. You need only a few things to get started: a safe place to stay and transportation to get there. Look outside your town and be willing to travel farther away if possible. It doesn’t cost much more to travel far than it does to travel near, and more distance will create a barrier to potential physical attacks afterward.

    You are currently struggling to face the reality of your situation. You think it’s not that bad. The problem with that thinking is that it will not get better, only worse. There is nothing this person or you is going to do to make it better.

    I want to add that does not mean this guy will abuse his next partner or that you will be abused by your next partner. Leaving is a way of actually saving you both and giving you both a chance at a new life. You will break the cycle and create room for transformation, for both of you.

    You cannot solve this relationship from inside the relationship though. The relationship is extremely toxic and the way to break that toxicity is to leave. Give yourself and him a chance at growth by leaving. Before he does something that neither of you can recover from.

  3. Sophia
    Sophia says:

    Both of the above are great advice. Domestic abuse always escalates rather than improving, so the best time to leave is as soon as you have a safe place to go. Please don’t wait until he starts physical violence. You can do it and you will be okay without him. You WILL find new people to support you and you will have a good future, even if it doesn’t feel that way at the moment.

    The first 24 hours after you leave is the time when your husband is most likely to come after you angry. So my advice is not to tell him you plan to leave. Try to leave when he will be away from the house for some time (even if it is just an hour or two). That way you can be already on your way to safety.

    You can do it! However hard it is, your life will be better in the long term because of your courage in leaving. And however difficult it feels, and it will, it will improve in time and you will be able to be happy again.

  4. Morgan
    Morgan says:

    It’s going to get worse.

    It’s not your fault.

    When thoughts like, “maybe I am to blame” pop up, really listen to that voice. Is it yours? Is it a noble thought? Is it a pure and lovely thought? No-then it’s not your voice telling you that you are intolerable. That’s his shadow infiltrating your sweet thought space in order to control you.

    The best way to help him is to leave him. If you stay, you are telling him, it is okay to yell at people and scare them. It is okay to hurt the people you love. And it’s not okay, not for you and not for him. By leaving him, you may spark something in him that causes him to find the help he needs to be at peace.

    By staying, you are empowering his monsters. By leaving, you empower yourself. You deserve to empower yourself, for both your sakes’.

    You get to save your own life. You can do it.

  5. Minami
    Minami says:

    She should fill out a MOSAIC Threat Assessment: https://www.mosaicmethod.com/

    I’ve used this to help someone, and it both helped them realize the gravity of their situation and gave them a tool to explain that gravity to other people in a way they could understand. The US Department of Justice and the CIA uses this, and the information gained from it can be admissible in court, which she may need at some point.

    • M
      M says:

      This really helps those of us who suck at assessing people’s behaviors and need something qualitative.

    • Zellie
      Zellie says:

      This is a useful tool to do what it says – assess the threat. It’s not realistic to decide whether you think he will do something dangerous. Signs demonstrate lack of control and any human, once he/she is past the point of self-control is capable of doing things that seem impossible when we are in a normal state. And threat of loss for these people escalates the instability and loss of control. That’s why it’s important not to warn that you are going to take action.

  6. Mark W.
    Mark W. says:

    There’s a lot of good advice in the comments above. I would recommend you get some money and formulate a plan. But first and foremost, you’ll have to convince yourself you want to leave him. I would advise writing down a list of specific experiences in which you were abused and then how those experiences made you feel. You say – “I have no money or people I can stay with.” That one sentence indicates to me he’s controlling your access to financial resources and people that you can rely on independent of him. Then write down all the questions you have including the ones in this post above. After completing the above, I would call the phone number Penelope provided. I don’t know your circumstances so you’ll have to decide whether to leave first and then call or call first and then leave with hopefully an even better well-devised plan than if you left first. What’s most important, though, is that he doesn’t know you called or have a way of tracing phone call records. You think you know him and somehow know he wouldn’t physically harm you. Maybe he doesn’t even know himself and what he would do in certain circumstances. I think you should leave him based on what you’ve written above. You know all the details and ultimately it will be up to you to make the decision.

  7. Hazel
    Hazel says:

    It doesn’t really matter whose fault it is. You are responsible for what you do and whether or not the violence will be turned on you, you still are unhappy.

    I had a group of friends who convinced me to evict an abuse ex. It was difficult to go through with it but once he was gone I immediately felt much calmer, not afraid. You are afraid of change and the unknown, that is natural but just speculation. What is real is the suffering you have now.

    You think you have no support, but have you tried asking? Some of my friends had given up because I didn’t follow their advice at the beginning of the relationship. But when they saw that I was serious about ending it, they were very supportive.

  8. Emma
    Emma says:

    I am very late to this conversation, but in the event you have not left your relationship yet, google “Tennessee Family Justice Center.” There are several locations in different areas of Tennessee. Family Justice Centers are “one stop” centers for women in your situation—they can help you find a place to stay, find a new job, get access to counseling services. So you can just show up to one place with whatever you have on you and they can help with all the next steps. Wishing you much more than luck.

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