Being in an unhealthy relationship can be an unbearable chore for one to handle, especially if domestic violence is involved. As established before, abusive relationship doesn’t necessarily translate to just physical, but also verbal, mental and psychological. Anything that refrains you from having a voice in your life, that may be taken as a consideration as an abuse.
This was never an easy issue to be talked about, especially when you know somebody who is in an abusive relationship, or even worse… to realise if you’re in one. It’s hard to know that love, something that’s portrayed as good and pure, as well as something that’s supposed to bring peace in the world and the humanity, could result in this kind of torture.
Acknowledging The Condition
When you’re in a loving and committed relationship, you should be able to feel safe and happy to be who you are when you’re around them. But, when someone crosses their privilege for your trust, it can be very damaging. Even more, knowing and recognising that you are (or might be) in an abusive relationship is a lot… It would put you in a constant state of questioning yourself about your worth, your feelings, and what to do.
As you face the decision to either end the abusive relationship or try to save it, what you have to keep in mind are:
If you’re hoping your abusive partner will change… The abuse will probably keep happening as the abusers have deep emotional and psychological problems. Change can only happen once your abuser takes full responsibility for their behaviour, 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… You may think you’re the only one who understands them or that it’s your responsibility to fix their problems. But the truth is, by staying and accepting repeated abuse, you’re reinforcing and enabling the behaviour. So, instead of helping your abuser, you’re actually not helping the real problem.
If your partner has promised to stop the abuse… When facing consequences, abusers often plead for another chance, beg for forgiveness, and promise to change. They may even mean what they say at the moment, but their true goal is to stay in control and keep you from leaving. Most of the time, they quickly return to their abusive behaviour once you’ve forgiven them and they’re no longer worried that you’ll leave.
If you’re worried about what will happen if you leave… You may be afraid of what your abusive partner will do, where you’ll go, or how you’ll support yourself or your children. But don’t let fear of the unknown keep you in a dangerous, unhealthy situation.
No one deserves to be abused, so if the abuser won’t change, the only way to permanently alter the relationship is for the abused partner to leave.
Your Safety Comes First
Whether or not you’re ready to leave the abuser, the first thing you have to consider is a safety plan for yourself — especially when children are involved in the relationship. The first thing is to know the abuser’s red flags by staying alert for signs that they are getting upset and may explode. Next, identify safe areas of the house, make sure that you know where to go in case the situation of abuse escalated. Then, come up with a code word, like a word / phrase / signal to notify the children, friends, neighbours or anybody you trust to call the police — letting them know that you are in danger.
Another thing to ensure your safety is protecting your privacy because abusers often monitor their partner’s activities. So, when seeking help for domestic violence and abuse, it’s important to cover your tracks, especially when you’re using the home phone, a smartphone, or a computer.
The Decision (and the Aftermath)
Whether you decided to leave or stay in the relationship, for the time being, there are repercussions that you need to face for each decision. And, the main thing would be keeping yourself safe from your abuser.
If you decided to leave, protecting yourself safe is just as important after you’ve left as before. You may need to…
- Relocate and keep your new location a secret
- Get an unlisted phone number
- Change the children’s school
- Cancel old bank accounts (especially if you shared them with your abuser) and open new accounts preferably in a different bank
- Change up your routine, so your abuser might not be able to track you down
If you decide to stay at this time, there are some coping mechanisms to improve the situation and protect yourself from your abusive partner, such as:
- Contact domestic violence or sexual assault program in your area
- Build as strong a support system as your partner will allow, whenever possible
- Be kind to yourself! Develop a positive way of looking at and talking to yourself. Use affirmations to counter the negative comments you get from the abuser.
So, What’s Next?
Give yourself some time to take steps to heal and move on, as the scars and trauma for what you’ve been through in the abusive relationship may run deep. You may struggle with upsetting emotions, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger that you just can’t kick. Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people.