October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and it’s time to shine a light on the problems Oregon residents face. Anyone can suffer from domestic violence. It’s a problem that crosses boundaries of race, religion, class, and sexual orientation. No matter where you live or how much money you make, it’s likely that you or someone you know has been a victim of domestic violence (DV).
The first step to ending this trend is to understand it. Keep reading to learn about domestic violence statistics, why it’s so hard for people facing DV to leave, and how you can get out safely if you’re in a dangerous relationship.
The Danger of Leaving Abusive Relationships
DV is all too common. More than 35% of women and 28% of men will experience abuse or stalking from a partner in their lives. Most of those incidents are never reported to the police. However, that doesn’t make them any less damaging. Victims of abuse are more likely to develop PTSD and other mental health problems alongside their physical injuries.
The problem with abuse is that it’s a cycle. Abusers act out and hurt their partners, then apologize and act sweet to “make up” for it. At first, many people find that the good times outweigh the bad. Over time, though, the abuse escalates. The victim finds that they’re regularly scared and feel unsafe. However, they’re hopeful that the good times will come back one day, and they’re afraid that leaving will make things worse.
They’re not wrong, unfortunately. In many abusive relationships, leaving does temporarily make things worse. 75% of domestic homicides occur when the victim tries to escape. Furthermore, the abuser is likely to become more violent over the following two years. Still, with proper precautions, leaving an abusive relationship is the safer and healthier option.
Safely Leaving Your Abusive Relationship
So, getting out of an abusive relationship is complex and dangerous, but not impossible. If you’re in an abusive relationship, you can and should leave. Here’s what you need to know about leaving a dangerous relationship as safely and quickly as possible.
Stop Waiting for Change
If you believe your relationship is abusive, you need to stop waiting for your partner to change. Abuse is a pattern of behavior. Even if your spouse initially seemed like a caring, loving partner, they aren’t anymore. Whether they’re just revealing their abusive tendencies or they’ve been hurting you for years, you need to understand that very few abusers ever change.
If you want a healthy, happy relationship, you can’t stay with an abuser. Stop waiting for them to change and stand up for yourself.
Many abusers try to prevent their victims from having any privacy. You may not have a private phone, computer, or bank account. Make it a priority to get hidden, personal forms of communication and money.
These will help you get in touch with people who can help you stay safe and support yourself while you’re getting back on your feet. It can be as simple as using a library computer, buying a cheap prepaid cellphone, or opening a new PayPal or Venmo account that your partner doesn’t know about.
Reach Out to Safe People
Your friends and family have probably noticed that your relationship isn’t safe. If you have close people who were critical about your spouse or don’t know your spouse at all, you should reach out to them. These people are your “safe” people. They’re unlikely to talk to your partner about your plans to leave.
Get in touch and let them know that you want to leave your partner. They can help you by offering a place to stay, lending you money, or just offering emotional support in this difficult time.
Make an Escape Plan
Once you have your safe people on your side, it’s time to make a safety plan. Figure out things like:
Where will you go when you leave?
When will you leave?
How much money do you need when you leave?
How will you prevent your partner from finding you?
How will you maintain your job if you have one?
The more details your can figure out in advance, the better. You should also set up your plan so you can leave at a moment’s notice if you believe you’re in danger.
Get Legal Help
While developing your plan, you should get legal help as early as possible. Consulting with a divorce attorney can help you prepare for any legal battles you may face. They can help you prepare to file for restraining orders, maintain your assets, and keep custody of your children. But again, do this through a private device that your partner can’t access.
Don’t Give Notice
No matter what you do, don’t tell your abuser that you’re planning to leave. Abusive partners typically want to maintain control over their victims and react poorly to learning that they will leave. When you leave, do it without notice. If you can, leave in when your partner isn’t home to make the process as easy as possible.
Don’t Get Back in Touch
The time after getting out of an abusive relationship can be strange and scary. You might start to view your old relationship with rose-tinted glasses. If your partner is apologetic, it can be tempting to go back.
Don’t fall for it. Cut off contact with your former partner as completely as possible. Remember, you left for a reason, and abusive partners rarely change. The last step to getting out of an abusive relationship is staying strong and staying away from your ex.
Put Yourself and Your Safety First
No one deserves to be abused. No matter how long you’ve been in your relationship or what you feel for your partner, you still deserve better than a spouse who hurts you. If your relationship is abusive, then you should take steps to protect yourself and get out.
First, get yourself to safety. Then you need to reach out to an experienced family law attorney to get advice about your legal situation. The right lawyer will help you understand your options and stay safe. Get in touch today to discuss your case and start the process of putting your safety first.