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Leaving An Abusive Relationship

Leaving an abusive relationship can be a difficult decision to make. Many women who have faced intimate partner violence or domestic violence have faced the dilemma around making a decision to get out – some of them have chosen to get out of these abusive relationships, and some have stayed. Regardless, the choice is yours to make, and however difficult it may be to implement, remember, you are NOT alone, and there is help around you. If you make the decision to leave, remember, you have the right to leave, and you have every right to seek help in order to do so. It is about you taking control of your mind, your body, your space and your freedom – and you have every right to do so. It can be a difficult task to decide to leave, and it is understandably pressuring. Here are some things you can keep in mind while you embark on taking and implementing the decision to leave:

  • You have every right and deserve to feel safe, be safe and have that safety respected and protected. Family, relatives and intimate partners should not threaten your safety, cause you harm, threaten you with harm or even make you vulnerable to abuse of any kind – be it physical, emotional, financial, psychological, verbal or any other form of abuse.

  • You have every right to be in control over your life and your choices as a corollary. Your freedom over your mind, body and decisions is inviolable. Abusive relations / family members / partners are controlling – their acts of violence are targeted at you in a way so as to make you lose your control over yourself, your freedoms, your space and your personal safety. This can manifest in the form of physical or verbal or financial or emotional or psychological abuse. 

  • In any relationship – whether familial, relational or with an intimate partner, it is important that you feel comfortable, safe and as an equal member. Experiencing vulnerability, threats, feelings of being unsafe, helplessness, a need to escape, fear, the feeling of being trapped or violated is not normal scenario in a relationship. A healthy relationship is one that you are part of without having to lose your identity and your freedoms and without being concerned for your personal safety.

  • It is understandable that when you face violence in a relationship, you will feel vulnerable, uncertain, fear, mistrust and even experience low confidence and self-esteem. It is not easy to deal with abuse, and to cope with the emotional and physical impact of the violence, so feeling these things is both normal and expected.

  • It is a good idea to talk to someone who you trust about your feelings and your decision to leave. It maybe a relative you trust, or it may be a friend, or even a counselor or therapist if you have access to one. Abuse at the hands of a relative, or a family member or an intimate partner can be traumatic and can leave you feeling a lot of mixed emotions, confusion and filled with questions. This is usually helpful because you  not only have the support of a person you trust backing you up, you also have someone to turn to in order to help you actually up and leave.

  • When you make the decision to leave, it is a good idea to identify what you need to and want to take. In abusive relationships, the option of going back to get your stuff is not an option personally, and sending someone else is a matter of chance that may or may not work on a case to case basis. Identify all your needs, take your documents and save up enough money. Identify where you will go and what you will do next. It is a good idea to map out your strategies in advance. If you are leaving on pure chance, always go to someone you trust that you can turn to for help.

  • If you want to report the abuse, it is a good idea to identify who you will turn to for legal help and police support. Save all that accounts for evidence.

  • One option to leave is to take the help of restraining orders. This will involve taking the help of a lawyer to present your case in court under the relevant legal provisions addressing domestic violence, and upon the evaluation of the evidence you submit, you may receive a restraining order against your abusive family member.

  • Another option to leave is to take the help of a shelter for survivors of domestic violence or an organization committed to supporting survivors of domestic violence. Shelters can offer you financial support or a place to stay at until you sort things out, and are safe spaces in that you are not at risk to direct exposure to your abuser.   

  • If you have children, factor them into any safety plan that you are building.

  • When you are preparing to leave, remember:

  • To keep money on your person. There is no estimate as to what sum would be best recommended, but make sure it is equal to the amount that’s enough to afford you a few nights at a decent and safe hotel, at the very least.  

  • To make a list of trusted people you can reach out to and let at least one or two of them know of your decision. Enlist their support in any fashion you feel safe doing.

  • To keep an emergency bag on your person with all your documents and basic supplies.

  • To make a list of shelters or lawyers you might want to reach out to. 






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