Domestic Violence: Should I Stay or Should I Go? Tips From an Abuse Survivor by Arielle Spring
I endured domestic violence throughout a four-year marriage as well as abuse in countless other relationships. I did many things during that long duration of abuse that many victims of domestic abuse classically do. I went back to him when he (just three weeks into the relationship) slapped, punched and strangled me. Afterwards he fervently promised me that he would "never hit me again." I married him two years into the relationship, even though he was abusing me on a regular basis.
When abuse is happening inside the relationship, never sluff it off – take immediate action. Every day that you stay damages you in ways that you most likely will not realize at the time and you’ll be dealing with that damage for possibly the rest of your life. As soon as the abuse happens, reach out immediately for help; however, make sure that when you’re reaching out you are in a safe environment – safety is paramount always when dealing with abusive situations.
Here are some tips for those planning on leaving their abuser:
- Set aside funds to secure a safe place to move.
- Secure a safe place to move to.
- Leave without the abuser knowing you are leaving – if this means taking only personal items, then do that because your life is more important than material things.
For those in an abusive and violent relationship with children involved, you can’t afford to stay. My stance is that it is always better to leave the abusive relationship when children are involved. Your "self-talk" might be abundant telling you that you should stay. Many people do not realize that something happens psychologically to the victim in abusive situations.
The very act of physical, emotional, spiritual or mental abuse may likely cause the victim to develop PTSD, which has an entire host of symptoms. One prevalent symptom is feeling "less than" what you were before entering the relationship. You may then start to use "excuses" to stay because of the "victim phenomenon" that is happening within you such as: "The kids won’t have their dad" or "I don’t have the money" – the list goes on and on.
The fact in every single hour, day, week, month and year that an abuse victim stays, they are not only putting their children in harm’s way from witnessing their abuse but also getting abused themselves. You are also allowing them to be damaged emotionally, psychologically and spiritually on such a level that they may never recover.
Once a domestic violence victim has left the toxic and dangerous abuse successfully, I recommend the following steps to set themselves up for success and not fall back into another abusive situation:
- Get a therapist that is qualified to deal with victims of abuse. If you don’t have resources to get a therapist, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788 and speak to someone who is trained to listen to you. (Holding it in is detrimental to your mental, emotional and physical health.)
- Get a Life Coach to help you through the maze of decisions that will most likely be much more difficult to deal with.
- Set new, steadfast boundaries for yourself when dating.
- Take time each day to be with your feelings.
- Take time each day to do self-love/self-care acts that nourish, nurture and rejuvenate you physically, emotionally and spiritually.
- If you don’t have someone who will take you aside and counsel you to leave, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788.
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