Survive in a Physically Abusive Marriage
Edited by estrella sacragon, Lynn, Eng, Shelley
No one deserves to be abused, whether it's physically, emotionally or mentally. If you're living in a physically abusive marriage, you know how difficult it can be to get out of the situation. However, with careful planning, you can leave the relationship and rebuild your life. There are many resources available for people in abusive relationships, so take advantage of all the help you can get. Remember that you have the right to be happy, loved and respected. Below are a few steps you can take to safely survive and get out of a physically abusive marriage.
- 1 Develop a Safety Plan
- 2 How to Keep Your Children Safe in an Abusive Household
- 3 How to Keep Pets Safe in an Abusive Household
- 4 How to Protect Yourself From Abuse If You're Pregnant
- 5 How to Leave a Physically Abusive Relationship
- 6 How to Move on Emotionally After Leaving an Abusive Relationship
- 7 Tips & Warnings
- 8 Comments
Develop a Safety Plan
If you're currently living with an abusive spouse, you need to put some precautions in place to keep yourself safe from harm. It's extremely important to develop a safety plan in private or with trusted friends or family, but without the abuser's knowledge. It's often hard to figure out what to do when you're in the middle of a violent situation and your adrenaline is high, so planning in advance can be a lifesaver if something were to occur.
- 1Program important numbers into your phone. You should have the phone numbers of your friends, family, police, work and school programmed into your phone in case an emergency arises and you need to contact someone. Try to keep the phone with you or close to you at all times. It's also a good idea to copy these numbers down onto paper and keep them with you in case you lose access to your phone. You should also take note of where the closest public phone is and the phone number of your local shelter. If your phone is on your abuser's plan, they might be able to track you, so leave it behind.Advertisement
- 2Alert trusted family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to your situation.Advertisement
- 3Plan a safe, quick exit route from your house and practice it often. A safe area of the home has an exit and no weapons in the room, so that's where you should go if an attack does occur. Don't let the abuser get between you and the exit, if possible. Take walks outside to scope out safe hiding places and the closest public places you can get to quickly if you need help.
- 4Stash away an emergency bag. Keep it in a place your abuser won't find it, or leave it with a trusted friend or family member. Include anything that you might need if you can't get back into your house during the transition period. Here are a few things you should keep in the bag:
- Change of clothes, socks and underwear for yourself and your children.
- Birth certificates, social security cards, passports, green card, mortgage information, car title, registration, proof of insurance, money, credit cards, checkbook, bank information, custody information, rental agreement, car title, registration and proof of insurance.
- Spare keys to your house and car.
- Prescriptions and glasses or contact lenses.
- A few toys or your child's favorite blanket.
- 5Lock away guns or weapons. If you can't do that, move them to a place that only you know about.
- 6Prepare your car for a quick escape. Try to park your car facing out of the driveway or parking lot, and leave only the driver's side door unlocked. Make sure you keep gas in the tank at all times. Keep your keys on your person or in a place that's easy to get to.
How to Keep Your Children Safe in an Abusive Household
Even if your abuser doesn't hit the children, it's psychologically and emotionally harmful for them to witness such abuse toward you. There are many ways you can help keep your kids safe from harm during the transition period.
- 1Teach your children that violence is never okay, and when they should call 911. Tell them not to intervene during violent situations since this can be very dangerous.Advertisement
- 2Tell your children what to do if a violent situation occurs. If you're being attacked, you might not be able to get out immediately. Tell your children where they can safely hide in the house that has an easy exit. Come up with a code word or signal that you can use if the kids need to get out of the house immediately. Instruct them on where to go and who to contact, such as a neighbor, in case of an emergency. Once they're safe, instruct them to call 911.
- 4Find out who your child feels comfortable with or who they can talk to. Children are often scared and confused when living in abusive situations, so let them know who they can call or go to if they're feeling upset. Take them to counseling, if possible, to help them cope.
- 5Talk to your children. You don't have to share all the details of the abuse, but let your children know that the situation is not their fault, and that you love them. You just want them to be safe, so you're coming up with a plan in case of an emergency. You don't have to specify it's because of abuse or violence, since children often tell the other parent what they hear.
How to Keep Pets Safe in an Abusive Household
- 1Bring your pets' medical records, medication, food or other provisions when you leave.
How to Protect Yourself From Abuse If You're Pregnant
Pregnancy is oftentimes an emotional time and period of change that requires love and support more than ever, but it's important to note that domestic abuse often increases during pregnancy. It's important to do everything you can to keep yourself and your baby safe and healthy, and there are many ways you can do that.
- 1Discuss the abuse with your doctor. Even if your partner insists on going to appointments with you, find a spare moment to alert your doctor or nurse that you need to speak with them alone and to come up with an excuse. They will most likely assist in your plan to get out of the relationship.
- 3If you are attacked while pregnant, keep yourself safe. Curl up into the fetal position to protect your stomach. If possible, stay on the first floor to avoid falling down the stairs.
How to Leave a Physically Abusive Relationship
It's been proven that an abuser often escalates their behavior when the victim tries to leave out of desperation. Here are few things to consider when you're leaving the relationship.
- 1You can get a police escort. Call the police and let them know you're leaving an abusive relationship and you'd like an escort in case something were to happen. This will give you peace of mind and ensure your safety.
- 3Let your family and friends know what you're doing. Before you leave, let them know what you're doing and where you're going. If you've bought a pay-as-you-go phone, give them your phone number.
- 4Bring photos and other documentation of the abuse. You might need this if you go to court.
- 5Make sure you have all of your important documents when you leave. If you have to leave quickly and you can't bring your emergency bag, you might be able to get back into the house to get your items with a police escort.
- 6Get a pay-as-you-go phone or a new, unlisted phone number.
- 7If you plan on staying in your home and your husband is arrested, beefy up security. Change the locks on your house and change your phone number. Install a security system and motion sensor lights. If you have wooden doors, install metal ones. If possible, consider moving.
- 9Change the route you take to your children's school. Let the school officials know about your situation, and if necessary, switch schools.
- 10Keep a copy of the restraining order on you. If you get a restraining order, let your family, friends, daycare, school and work know about it and to contact the authorities if your abuser shows up. Give them a picture of the abuser if they haven't seen the person before.
- 11Change your social life. It's best to change your usual shopping places and hangouts, since it's likely that the abuser knows about those and might look for you there.
- 13Contact a lawyer that handles domestic abuse divorce cases. This will be very helpful in making the divorce and custody process as smooth and seamless as possible. Realize that oftentimes, courts will allow supervised visits for the abusive parent if it's determined that the parent hasn't harmed the children.
How to Move on Emotionally After Leaving an Abusive Relationship
You can move on and rebuild your life and emotional health after leaving an abusive relationship. It might take some time, but there are several things you can do to restore your happiness.
- 1Reach out to friends or family members. Even if you only have one person who will listen and spend some time with you can help you feel a lot better. Get together to eat or just hang out and talk. Having a support system is one of the best things you can do for yourself.
- 2Go to counseling. If you're having trouble coping with your situation, don't hesitate to visit a counselor. They can listen to your concerns and give constructive advice on how you can rebuild your life.
- 4Learn a new skill or enroll in courses. If you need something to keep you occupied, or you want to get a new job or excel at your current one, consider enrolling in college courses or taking a class in something you want to learn more about.
- 5Make small goals for yourself. Even something as small as calling a friend, fixing up a room in your house or organizing a closet, set goals and reward yourself when you achieve them. Work up to bigger goals and enjoy the sense of accomplishment you'll feel.
- 6Spend quality time with your children.
Tips & Warnings
- If you feel that your life is in danger, do not hesitate to call the police. If you can't do that, try your best to escape the situation and get help as quickly as possible. It's OK to leave items behind if you're in danger - the most important thing is your life.
- Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE for tips and services.