Leaving a violent or abusive relationship is not easy. Maybe you are still hoping that things will change or maybe you are afraid of what your partner might do if he finds out you are trying to leave. Whatever the reason, you probably feel like a prisoner, helpless. But there is help available. Resources are available for abused and battered women, such as shelters, even training centers to help you find you a job, legal services and childcare. You deserve to live without fear. Start by asking for help.
Why not leave? This is the question that many people ask when they learn that a woman is being abused. But if you are in an abusive relationship, you know that it is not that simple. Ending an important relationship is never easy. It’s even harder when you were isolated from family and friends, psychologically held down, demoralized, financially controlled and physically threatened.
Maybe you are at the stage when you are trying to decide whether to stay or to leave, and you feel confused, insecure, scared and tired. One moment, you desperately want to escape, and the next, you want to stay and endure everything just to save the relationship. Maybe you blame yourself for abuse or feel weak and ashamed because you stayed for so long. Do not get engulfed in confusion, guilt or self-blame. The only thing that matters is your safety.
If you are in an abusive relationship, remember:
- It is not your fault for being beaten or mistreated.
- You’re not to blame for your partner’s abusive behavior.
- You deserve to be treated with respect
- You deserve to live safely and have a happy life.
- Your children deserve to live safely and lead a happy life.
- You’re not alone! There are people who want to help you.
Making the decision to leave
During the time you are dealing with the decision to discontinue the abusive relationship or trying to save it, keep in mind the following things:
If you still hope that he will change… abuse will happen most likely again. Bullies have profound emotional and psychological problems. While change is not impossible, it is not quick, nor easy. And change can only happen if the abuser assumes full responsibility for his behavior, seeks professional treatment and ceases to blame yourself, his unhappy childhood, stress, work, drinking habits, or temperamental or abusive behavior.
If you think you can help the abuser change… It is normal to want to help your partner. You think you’re the only one who understands him and that it is your responsibility to solve his problems. But the truth is that staying and accepting repeated abuses reinforces the belief that he can afford more, that it is normal to have an abusive behavior. Instead of helping the abuser, you contribute to the problem.
If your partner has promised to stop behaving abusively… When faced with the consequences, abusers often plead for another chance, apologize, and promise to change. They may even believe what they say at the moment, but their real purpose is to stay in control and to stop you from leaving. Most of the times, they are quickly returning to their abusive behavior once they have been forgiven and are not concerned that you will leave or with the possible legal consequences.
If your partner has agreed to get help… Even if your partner goes to counseling, there is no guarantee that he will change. Many abusers, after the therapy hours required by you or the judge, still continue to be violent. If your partner has stopped, minimizes the problem or apologizes, that’s a good sign. But you have to make the decision based on who and how he is now, and not according to the person you hope he will become.
If you’re worried about what will happen to you if you leave… You may be afraid of what your partner may do or where to go, or how you can support your children. But do not let fear of the unknown keep you in a dangerous unhealthy situation.
Signs that your aggressor will NOT change:
He says he can not change unless you stay with him and support him.
He is trying to gain sympathy from you, your children, or family and friends.
Expects something from you in return for asking for help or changing himself.
Minimizes the abuse or denies how serious it truly was.
Continues to blame others for his behavior.
Says that you are actually the abusive one.
Forces you to go to couple counseling.
He will emotionally blackmail you saying that you owe him another chance.
You have to constantly insist on him continuing his treatment.
He presses you to make decisions on your relationship.
See Useful contacts for help.
Don’t wait until it’s too late!