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Escaping From Abusive Marriages
If you are in an abusive relationship, you know that it can be very difficult to escape. The advice of, “just leave” that so many people try to give is not only unhelpful, but it can actually be very harmful since it tends to minimize what you are going through. This can leave you feeling hopeless and stuck. The reality is, while there is little doubt that escaping an abusive marriage is going to be one of the hardest things you go through, it is very possible if you take the right steps. This blog post is not a comprehensive guide that will apply to every single situation. It will, we hope, help to give you ideas and the courage to take the next steps to get yourself into a safer environment.
Recognizing the Abuse
For some people, the abuse is extremely obvious, but not for everyone. Whether you are experiencing physical or emotional abuse, the first thing you need to do see that what you are going through is abuse. Determining if you are in an abusive marriage isn’t always easy, but there are resources out there that can help. One simple baseline to start with is to know that no spouse should ever be intentionally physically injured, or experience fear that they will be physically injured. In addition, spouses should not cause each other emotional harm intentionally. If you aren’t sure if you are in an abusive marriage, talk to a trusted friend, family memory, or a local resource to get an outside perspective.
Planning to Leave an Abusive Marriage
If you and your children are not in immediate physical danger, it may be better to take a little time to plan how you will leave. As long as you are remaining in the abusive relationship, make sure to take the following steps:
- Document Everything – Make sure to write down every instance of abuse, no matter how minor. Take pictures of any injuries or other evidence of abuse. If you can safely do it, record examples of verbal or emotional abuse.
- Talk to Someone – Find a trusted friend, family member, or local volunteer that you can talk to about this. Keeping it all to yourself can cause feelings of helplessness and shame. In addition, regular check-ins about your situation can help give you the confidence to move forward with your plan of escape.
- Plan Financially – If you can, start setting aside money that will help you when you are able to leave. This will help make it easier to have somewhere to go, food to eat, and other essentials when the time comes.
- Set a Date – You do not want to be planning to leave indefinitely. This period of time is simply a way to prepare, not a way to live long term. Set a date and commit to being out of the house when it arrives.
Of course, all of these steps should be taken with your safety in mind. If any of them will put you at further risk of being abused, modify them to keep yourself and your children protected.
When to Simply Leave
While there are many situations that warrant a slower approach, if you or your children are being physically injured, it is usually best to just walk away. This, of course, can be terrifying in itself, but once you are able to get through it, you will find that it was the best decision. Ideally, you can go to a friend or family to stay while calling the police and an attorney to start the divorce process. If that is not an option, going to a shelter is usually a possibility. While a shelter may be scary, these places often have resources that can help you with your next steps. We are absolutely not trying to suggest that this is going to be easy, but only that if you are able to do it, you will find that it was far less scary than staying in the abusive situation.
Talk to an Attorney
No matter what type of abuse you are experiencing, how you want to leave, or how long you think it will take, a family law attorney can help. As attorneys, we have helped abused spouses in virtually every situation to find the best ways out of an abusive relationship, and ensure legal protections can be put in place as soon as possible. In many situations, we can even help you financially since we can work on getting the courts to implement child or spousal support as soon as possible. Whether you have already left your abusive spouse, or you are just thinking about it, please contact Petkovich Law Firm so we can help you with your next steps.
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