During adult class this week, I was teaching a pre-arranged fighting drill. It was only a 3-4 step drill and the students already knew the techniques. Simple right? I give you 3 or 4 things to do and then you do them. Yes, it was simple, but it was not easy. You see, there’s more to it than just putting a foot here or an arm there. There’s a finesse to it. Timing and knowing when to move hard and when to be soft. The students struggled with it for a while. Their brains at times tried to overthink it, putting in more moves that what was called for. Other times, their brains got it, but their bodies where not cooperating. What will eventually bring this drill together for them is time, patience and persistence as well as practice. This event got me to thinking about another project I’m working on with domestic abuse victims and how a somewhat simple sounding answer to a problem is not so easy either.
People often look at victims of domestic abuse and say “why didn’t he/she just leave?” In hindsight, the people that I have talked with that have been in these situations often beat themselves up with the same types of questions; ‘Why didn’t I leave sooner? Why did I go back? Why didn’t I set up my boundaries from the beginning?” I’ve heard them call themselves or their actions stupid. While the steps may be simple: 1. set boundaries. 2. honor those boundaries 3. leave if those boundaries aren’t honored, they are far from easy. There were obstacles to get around or lessons to be learned. What if you never had to set relationship boundaries before in your life? How would you possibly have known that you needed to do that let alone how? If you were in a physically abusive relationship, safety had to be your first concern. While leaving would seem simple, sometimes leaving actually puts a victim and their children in more danger than staying does. Timing here is important. The abuser may have control of the money, so that is a challenge that may hinder being able to “just leave.” Sometimes, when someone has mentally beat you down long enough, you stop believing in yourself. You no longer think you’re capable or smart enough to be on your own. Other times, the dreams and hopes for a happy family are so strong in you that you just know if you hang in there a little longer that it’ll get better.
There are any number of reasons why something so simple as “just leave” is not easy. To those of you out there going through a tough time – have patience with yourself and don’t give up on you. For anyone out there wondering why someone doesn’t “just leave”, it’s not as easy as it looks. Give them your patience and some time and your support.