Domestic Violence: Why Don’t They Just Leave?

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. — For those on the outside, when you hear of a domestic violence case, most people think – why didn’t they just leave?

Why did they let it get so bad?

Unfortunately, for the victims, most times, it’s easier than it sounds.

The Program Director at the Victim’s Center in Springfield, Lisa Ellsworth,  provides free counseling and crisis intervention to victims of domestic violence.

And sadly, because of the widespread problem, she’s busy.

Domestic violence calls into 911 here in Greene County are typically physical.

But domestic violence can also be emotional, verbal, sexual and financial.

The impacts, for the victim, are devastating.

And, as easy as it is for someone to say “just leave” or “get out”, it’s really not that easy.

Especially, for the person living it every single day.

Ellsworth says, “So, that can be a very terrifying experience. so that can sometimes keep those people in those situations even longer. There’s always kind of a crisis situation. You’re not really sure what’s going to happen next and once they kind of get in that cycle, the tension building and the eruption, they are very much in tune with that. So, that can take up a lot of their mental and physical energy just trying to respond to that cycle. There’s an emotional component to that.”

Most times, Ellsworth says, they’re isolated from everything outside of their home.

Ellsworth says, “Where they have actually been separated from their resources, their family, their friends. sometimes it’s geographic. Sometimes, they don’t get to have communication.”

It’s essentially starting over, from scratch.

And, victims can feel like they don’t have a lot of options when it comes to leaving— “Where do I go?”, “What do I do?”, “What about my children?, “A job?” 

It can be very stressful.

And because of that, Ellsworth says, “Sometimes, their best course of action, their safest course of action, is to stay in the situation.”

For Ellsworth, she knows getting out can take time.

That’s why she’s there to support and only help.

Ellsworth says, “If they go back, we don’t judge or criticize that. When they come back in, we’ll work with them at that point. And hopefully, we’re getting them closer to permanent safety.”

Which is always the number one goal. 

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