Leaving Abusive Relationships
According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is “the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another.” After admitting the problem of domestic violence within a relationship, the next step is escaping the situation in order to ensure safety. Removing one’s self from a violent relationship is especially important when children are involved due to the many effects the violence can cause them.
Often times one of the first steps to escaping domestic violence is admitting the abuse to a close friend or family member. This step may be difficult because of the guilt and shame often associated with domestic violence. Talking with someone who cares for you and your situation often provides relief and eases anxiety.
Steps to Leaving
Before leaving the abuser there are a few steps recommended by the Mayo Clinic.
- Call a local domestic violence shelter to ask for advice. Do this during a safe time when the abuser is not around or will not be able to hear the conversation. They can provide information about where you can go and what you should do ahead of time.
- Pack a bag that has the essentials in it and put the bag in a safe place that is easily accessible but will not be discovered by the abuser.
- Have a plan about where you will go so that you are not having to decide under pressure at the last minute.
Helping a Friend or Family Member
If you are the friend or family member who is supporting a loved one involved in domestic violence, there are a few things you can do to help according to the National Domestic Violence Helpline. First and foremost, offer a listening ear, free from judgement and condemnation. Never pressure the victim into leaving or condemn him or her for staying in the relationship. When the victim is ready to leave the relationship, offer to help in any way that you can including contacting shelters or other professionals or holding onto important documents, extra keys, or an emergency bag for the escape.
Escaping with a Child
When you are escaping a domestic violent situation with children, there are a few things to keep in mind. According to DomesticViolence.org, there should not be any legal consequences to fleeing a domestic violent situation with children but it would be a good idea to contact an attorney and look into the laws in your area regarding domestic violence and parental custody. Having a detailed diary with dates regarding the abusive situation can be especially helpful in custody battles. Filing for a order of protection after escaping can help to protect yourself and your children.
Overall know there is hope and healing after a domestic violent relationship. Check out our article regarding moving on from a domestic violent situation here.