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How to Identify and Safely Leave an Abusive Relationship

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When you find yourself or someone you love in an abusive relationship, it can be hard to stand idly by. The last thing you want to do is allow for the abuse to continue or get worse. Leaving an abusive relationship is not easy. It can require careful planning and having the proper support network to make this life-saving decision.

Warning Signs of Domestic Violence

A few of the most common signs of domestic violence include: 

  • Possessiveness
  • Incontrollable aggression
  • Manipulation
  • Jealousy
  • Unpredictable
  • Demeaning

These are just a couple signs that demonstrate an abusive partner. If you think you are a victim or know someone who may be a victim of domestic abuse, call the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. They can provide more resources and advice on how to identify and safely leave an abusive relationship. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as filing for a restraining order. Sometimes it requires careful planning and execution. What is important is that if you notice these signs in yourself or someone else, reach out for help.

Types of Domestic Violence

Domestic violence does not have one form. There are different types of domestic violence you should be aware of. Sometimes those “caring” signs are signals of an abusive partner. 

The three major types of domestic violence are physical, sexual, and psychological, also known as emotional abuse. 

Physical – When your partner or family member hits, punches, or kicks you. This is a sign of physical abuse. 

Sexual – This encompasses anything from unwanted advances, touching, or sexual intercourse. As soon as the word “no” is spoken, and the individual continues, this is sexual abuse. 

Psychological/Emotional – Psychological or emotional abuse can be hard to identify. It can be subtle at first, then very explicit. Emotional abuse can come in the form of manipulation or bullying in the relationship. 

If, at any point, you or a family member are experiencing any of the following types of abuse, consider reaching out to a national domestic violence hotline. Never allow yourself to stay in a dangerous situation. Contact someone immediately. 

Why It’s So Hard to Leave an Abusive Relationship 

Often, when we meet someone who has managed to escape domestic abuse, the first question they are asked is, why did it take you so long? Family members are left wondering why their loved one would stay with their abusive partner. The reality is, leaving an abusive relationship is not as easy as one believes. Sometimes, it takes weeks, if not months, of preparation to leave for somewhere safe. 

Depending on who else is aware of the abuse, the victim may have a code word for friends and family members that signifies their final straw. 

Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult because we never want to believe or accept that the person who once said, “I love you” could hurt us. It is natural to want to believe in the good, rather than believe the person we love is capable of hurting us.

The Cycle of Abuse

When we find ourselves, or someone we care about, returning to their partner, this is part of a vicious cycle despite the verbal, physical, or emotional abuse. It is known as a cycle because they may find themselves leaving and then returning more than once

It can be hard breaking the cycle; however, with the proper support and encouragement from friends and family, it can be done. The most crucial aspect of breaking the cycle of abuse is having friends and family by your side. What victims of domestic abuse often forget to realize is that they don’t’ deserve the violence they are receiving. Regardless of who you are, no one deserves to be a victim of domestic abuse.

How to Leave an Abusive Relationship

Leaving an abusive relationship is not easy. One doesn’t just file for a restraining order. There are certain steps that should be taken to ensure one’s safety in the process. For example, it may require having to create a safety plan, so that when the individual is feeling ready, they use a code word to initiate the escape. 

No one falls in love thinking they are going to break up. More importantly, no one enters a relationship thinking they deserve to be hit or degraded. Deciding to leave an abusive partner is not only terrifying, but it is liberating as well. Male or female, married or not, you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, no matter what.

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