The Devil You Know

It's hard to understand, but leaving a dangerous situation may be more scary than staying. Photo: Belinda Geiger

It happens all the time. Abused spouses go back to their abusers. Sometimes they go back and end up dead. And we, the general public, read in amazement, wondering why a woman would be so foolish to return to the person who harmed her. Some of us even blame the victim: “If she hadn’t gone back to him, this never would have happened!”

And even those of us who don’t blame her, who know it’s the abuser’s fault and no one else’s, shake our heads in despair that women go back into harm’s way after finally getting free. We don’t understand. We probably will never fully understand. But we can learn from those who do.

Today’s post is reprinted with permission from Belinda Geiger writes a blog that is intended to inspire hope in those who are caught up in the paralysis of fear and those who have mustered the courage to run away. She knows what it’s like, because she, too, is a survivor. She ran for her life with her two daughters and two paper bags. In them were one change of clothes for each girl and one favorite toy. Belinda took nothing for herself. Nothing. She calls herself a bag lady, because that’s literally what she had become.

But, life has come full circle for Belinda. Today she is studying hypnotherapy, energy healing, and Neuro Linguistic Programming, with the goal of helping survivors of domestic abuse regain control over their lives. I offer you this to share with anyone you know who might be in a dangerous domestic situation. And I offer it, too, so that we all can better understand why someone abused just might go back to be abused again.

Belinda Geiger is my sister. I am grateful she escaped the devil she knew and has lived to inspire others to do the same. ~Julia Wasson, Publisher

The Devil You Know

It is a sad fact
that many of the women
in domestic violence shelters,
at any point in time,
will go back to their abusers.
(yes, it is true)

In fact, a large percentage will go back.
and many will go back more than once.
that means, of course,
that they leave and go back and then
find it necessary to leave again
and go back again
and leave again

because the devil they know
is not as terrifying as the devil they don’t know

starting over from nothing is tough work.

learning to care for yourself again,
and then, look for and actually find a job,
or get training so that you can find a job,
buy clothes to wear to the job,
buy a car to get to the job,
buy insurance so that you can drive the car
find a safe place to live
buy, or borrow, everything you need to live in the place,
and do it all before you run out of time
at the shelter, is hard.
and truly,
it is even harder than we can imagine.

so instead of embracing the devil they don’t know,
after leaving the devil they knew
they decide, after much consternation,
that they have probably taught the abuser a lesson,
and that it might be safe to go back. . .

she imagines that he will be so happy
to have her home again
and he will be kind, and loving,
and he will realize that he treated her badly,
and it will be all fairy tale endings and sweetness and love,
and that true love will prevail.


the devil you know
will get even


the devil you know
will hurt you again


the devil you know
is still the devil.

Belinda Geiger

Contributing Writer

Blue Planet Green Living (Home Page)