Many women in relationships suffer at the hands of an abusive partner. It is not always easy to just walk away. An abusive partner does not want to let go and even if women want to leave, they feel that they cannot as they face poverty, more abuse, their exes harassing them or even death.
Whether a future partner is an abuser or not can be detected at the time of dating, long before a woman marries him. However, the victim is in love with the abuser and will tend to let things slide. Bad behavior is often forgiven and the victim believes that things will change once they are married. Even the most healthy, well adjusted woman can fall into the trap of committing to an abuser. Hoping that things improve during marriage and the arrival of children is unrealistic to say the least. The controlling behavior will continue and likely get worse even after the couple have long divorced. Unless the abuser gets professional help and admits his problem, there is no hope for this couple.
Some women may believe that they have nowhere to run and no-one to turn to. They may feel that their limited resources, such as an ability to work and earn an income means they just put up with the abuse and hope it gets better. This is not true. Due to more awareness of marital abuse, there are many women’s and children’s shelters where women can seek solace from the abuse in safety. The workers who run these shelters will help the victim with finding employment and help with childcare for their children. They will also help with family law issues and applying for welfare assistance. Most of the workers who work in these shelters have been in abused relationships themselves and know how these women are feeling.
When abuse from a spouse occurs there is usually a pattern that unfolds each time. After every incident of abuse the abuser will apologize and promise to change. The abuser will then likely blame his spouse and will deny his actions and diminish the circumstances of the abusive situation. He may give his wife gifts and be very loving and attentive in the short term until both spouses forget what happened. The abuse stops for a while. Suddenly tensions starts to build, the abuser might blow a situation out of proportion and communication is lost. The victim and her family are very careful of how they behave around the abuser; this is called “Walking on egg-shells.”
Every abused woman has rights, and all of her rights are being violated. An abused woman has the right to not be abused, and to be angry with her spouse for past incidents of abuse. She has the right to make a decision to change what’s happening and the right to not feel fear from the abuser. An abused woman has the right to ask for and seek assistance from law enforcement and other agencies that may be able to provide help. She has the right to talk about how she feels and to not feel cut off from the world. She has a right to expect someone better to teach her children life lessons and to be treated as an adult. She has every right to leave the abusive and toxic environment and to expect privacy. An abused woman has the right to her freedom and to bring criminal charges against her abuser. She also has the right to express herself to others and to not feel as though she needs to be perfect.
If you are a victim of marital or relationship abuse that is physical, then you need to leave. Don’t pay attention to his promises to change and declarations of love for you, those are empty words. You will need a plan to get free of someone like this, as it’s probable that he will not just let you waltz out of the door and out of his life. So you will need a definitive plan.
Firstly you will need money; always keep some hidden, this may take time to put away enough to get away, but all you need is enough to get yourself to a shelter. Make sure you have your keys to the house and car on you at all times and make copies just in case. Pack extra clothing for yourself and your children if applicable. Have a plan in place to get your hands on important documents you may need; at the very least have certified copies made. You will need: social security numbers – yours, his and your children’s, birth certificates – yours and your children’s, payslips – his and yours, bank account details, insurance policies, marriage certificate, drivers licence – yours and a copy his if possible, any deeds for property owned jointly, monthly bill statements, valuable jewelry and a list of important telephone numbers.
When you have been abused your spouse has literally stripped you of all of your self esteem. You will feel worthless and you may fear that shelter workers and the police won’t believe you. Workers at women’s shelters are trained to recognize when a woman has been abused and so are the police. You will be believed. Your worker will accompany you to every appointment with counselors, lawyers and every court date if you need them. The most important things is to get away from your abuser and end this relationship or marriage as soon as possible. Just keep in mind that you are not alone and there are many agencies, women’s groups and abuse counselors who will be there to support you.