When they ask, "Have you thought about leaving?" (5 actionable steps to creating safety)

I have a dear friend who was in crisis last week. I went with her to try to get help in a mental health evaluation from the emergency room; I listened to her call the crisis line at our women's shelter. It was hard watch.

It was not hard to watch because of her crisis. I get where she was. I've been there. She's done hard work before, and she will do it again.

It was hard to watch because of people's reactions. You see, my friend is not a drug addict or alcoholic. She is thin, beautiful, has a successful job, and radiates creativity. But, she has a boyfriend who is violent and cruel. She has broken up and gotten back together with him however many times is normal in this type of relationship after about a year of knowing him. But, she keeps going back. He is her addiction. She is hooked on his particular combination of violence, cruelty, good sex, and clinging. At this point, she told us, she knows he will continue being violent, even escalate the violence, but she is self-destructive and suicidal, and he is her weapon of choice.

"Have you thought about taking a break from him?" She was asked. "You're not the problem,&q