Protecting Yourself Before and After You Leave
Getting out of an abusive or violent relationship isn’t easy. Maybe you’re still hoping that things will change or you’re afraid of what your partner will do if he discovers you’re trying to leave. Whatever your reasons, you probably feel trapped and helpless. But help is available. There are many resources available for abused and battered women, including crisis hotlines, shelters—even job training, legal services, and childcare. You deserve to live free of fear. Start by reaching out.
How can you get out of an abusive relationship?
Why doesn’t she just leave? It’s the question many people ask when they learn that a woman is being battered and abused. But if you are in an abusive relationship, you know that it’s not that simple. Ending an important relationship is never easy. It’s even harder when you’ve been isolated from your family and friends, psychologically beaten down, financially controlled, and physically threatened.
If you’re trying to decide whether to stay or leave, you may be feeling confused, uncertain, frightened, and torn. One moment, you may desperately want to get away, and the next, you may want to hang on to the relationship. Maybe you even blame yourself for the abuse or feel weak and embarrassed because you’ve stuck around in spite of it. Don’t be trapped by confusion, guilt, or self-blame. The only thing that matters is your safety.
If you are being abused, remember:
- You are not to blame for being battered or mistreated.
- You are not the cause of your partner’s abusive behavior.
- You deserve to be treated with respect.
- You deserve a safe and happy life.
- Your children deserve a safe and happy life.
- You are not alone. There are people waiting to help.
Making the decision to leave
As you face the decision to either end the abusive relationship or try to save it, keep the following things in mind:
If you’re hoping your abusive partner will change… change can only happen once your abuser takes full responsibility for his behavior, seeks professional treatment, and stops blaming you, his unhappy childhood, stress, work, his drinking, or his temper.
If you believe you can help your abuser… the truth is that by staying and accepting repeated abuse, you’re reinforcing and enabling the abusive behavior. Instead of helping your abuser, you’re perpetuating the problem.
If your partner has promised to stop the abuse… But most of the time, they quickly return to their abusive behavior once they’ve been forgiven and they’re no longer worried that you’ll leave.
If your partner is in counseling or a program for batterers… Even if your partner is in counseling, there is no guarantee that he’ll change.
If you’re worried about what will happen if you leave… don’t let fear of the unknown keep you in a dangerous, unhealthy situation.
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