Leaving an Abusive Relationship

By: Emily Ramos

Note: Abuse is not sex-linked. Just as men can abuse women, women can abuse males, and vice-versa. This article applies to everyone who is a victim of abuse.

Why do people stay in abusive relationships if they are unhappy? It is easy to put the blame on victims for choosing to remain with their abuser when you don’t know the extent of what they are going through.  Many times they worry their attacker will do one of the following if they end up leaving:

  • stalk and harass them
  • kill them
  • hold their children hostage
  • kill their pets
  • threaten to commit suicide

It would be easier for someone to leave if they were guaranteed protection from their assailant like a witness protection program. Luckily there are restraining orders that can be filed on behalf of the victim and their loved ones. Here are some helpful tips if you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship:

  1. Make sure you have a strong support system. The more people you have to provide moral and emotional support the more likely you are to follow through with leaving.
  2. Pack your things. Actions speak louder than words, saying you plan to leave is not the same as actually leaving. If you continue to hold off, the situation will only get worse. Abusive relationships never get better and, in some instances, end in death. Taking steps now will improve your chances of being able to escape. If you don’t already have one, open a savings account in your name. Start to put together personal items and important documents that you can leave with a trusted friend and make sure these items won’t get noticed it’s missing.
  3. IF you decide to end the relationship in person, make sure it is done in a public setting. Let your friends know where you are meeting and have someone close by waiting to make sure it all goes according to plan. Also, bring your cellphone and have the number of a local domestic violence shelter on speed dial in case of an emergency.
  4. DO NOT STAY IN CONTACT. Any attempt on the part of your abuser to reach out to you is just their way of manipulating you into taking them back. Agreeing to meet in person is very dangerous.
  5. NEVER assume you’re safe just because you successfully left. Make sure you have a backup plan for every possible scenario that may arise. Avoid participating in the same routines as previously or going to places you previously frequented. Make sure you never do things alone and switch all your social media to private (tell your family and friends to do so as well).
  6. Instead of changing your number, get an alternate number and only give it out to people you trust. Keep your old one and let all calls go straight to voicemail; this will give your abuser the impression that it is still your current number. Save any threatening e-mails, texts, or letters as evidence in case you need to get a restraining order in the future.

By taking the right precautionary steps, you can safely leave your relationship and live a better life.

If you or a person you know is struggling with an abusive relationship, it may be beneficial to have them contact a mental health professional and receive therapy for their illnesses. The psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists at Arista Counseling and Psychiatric Services can help.  Contact the Bergen County, NJ or Manhattan offices at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920.  Visit http://www.acenterfortherapy.com for more information.

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