When in the midst of an abusive relationship, it can be difficult to make clear decisions in regard to your own well-being. Ending a relationship isn’t easy, and you may feel frightened by how your partner will react if you decide to leave.
However, if you find you are in an abusive relationship, it’s important to take action. No matter what promises your abuser makes, they will not change without seeking proper help on their own. Abusers are suffering from complex mental and emotional issues.
If you need help, we want you to know that our team is here for you. You are never alone.
How Do I Know if I’m in an Abusive Relationship?
Abuse can come in many forms, including physical, sexual, mental, and emotional abuse. It’s often not obvious if you’re in an abusive relationship, so below are some signs that you may be in one.
- Unpredictable behavior
- Possessiveness by the abuser
- Threatening behavior
- Controlling behavior
- Blaming the victim
- Demeaning behavior toward the victim
- Hits, kicks, shoves, slaps, chokes or otherwise hurts you, your children or your pets
- Forces you to have sex or engage in sexual acts against your will
- Tries to prevent or discourage you from going to work or school or seeing family members or friends
These are just some of the many signs of abusive behavior. To learn more, you can read our blog Abusive Relationships: When Should I Seek Help?
What Should I Do if I’m in an Abusive Relationship
If you are facing the tough decision of leaving an abusive relationship, keep in mind that an abuser will probably not change their behavior, despite their commitment to do so. Abusers have severe psychological and emotional problems which cannot be fixed easily. According to the Help Guide, if you stay with an abuser, you reinforce and enable the behavior. If an abuser truly desires to change, they must take responsibility for their actions and seek professional help.
Protect Your Communication and Location
It is not uncommon for an abuser to monitor your communication channels and or location, but do not let that deter you from getting help. To maintain privacy, Mayo Clinic recommends that you take the following precautions:
- Use phones cautiously. Remember to check your cell phone settings, as an abuser can listen in on calls, read your texts and track your location via your cell phone. Consider using a friend’s cell phone or a second cell phone instead.
- Use your home computer cautiously. Consider using a computer at work, the library, or a friend’s house to get help.
- Remove GPS devices from your vehicle.
- Frequently change your email password.
- Clear your viewing history.
Find Help From These Resources
If you are in immediate danger, call 911 or your local emergency number or law enforcement agency.
The following resources may be of additional help:
- Talk to someone you trust.
- Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-SAFE (7233) for crisis intervention and resource referrals.
- Talk to your healthcare provider. Doctors and nurses will treat injuries and can refer you to safe housing and other local resources.
- Call a local women’s/men’s shelter or crisis center.
- Call a mental health or counseling center. You can reach the Seneca Health Services office nearest you here.
- Talk to a local court. Your district court can help you obtain a restraining order that legally mandates an abuser to stay away from you or face arrest.
Make an Escape Plan
Leaving an abusive relationship is not easy. If you are considering leaving, Mayo Clinic recommends taking the following precautions:
- When the abuser is not around, call a women’s/men’s shelter or domestic violence hotline for free, anonymous advice.
- Pack an emergency bag with items you will need when you leave, such as extra clothes and keys. Leave this bag in a safe place.
- Keep important personal papers, any evidence, a list of emergency contacts, money, and prescription medications handy, so you can take them with you on short notice. Place them in a safe place the abuser cannot access.
- Know where you will go, and how you will get there, and safely practice your escape plan. If you have children, be sure they also practice the escape plan.
Protect Yourself Once You Leave
After leaving an abusive relationship, it is just as critical to keep yourself as safe as before you left. The NCADV states that abusers often continue to stalk, harass, threaten and try to control their victims once they leave because abusers feel a loss of control. Therefore, victims are usually in the most danger once they leave an abusive relationship or seek help. To protect yourself, the Help Guide recommends taking the following precautions:
- Consider relocating; they may need to switch schools if you have children.
- If you remain in the same location, be sure to change your routine.
- Get a prepaid mobile phone or an unlisted landline.
- Use a post office box.
- Apply to your state’s address confidentiality program.
- Cancel your old bank accounts and credit cards. When you open new accounts, be sure to use a different bank.
- Consider getting a restraining order or protective order against the abuser.
Finding Help | Seneca Health Services
Healing from the trauma of an abusive relationship can be challenging. You may experience feelings of fear, numbness or other upsetting emotions after leaving an abusive relationship. But remember, you are not alone. Through counseling and support groups for domestic violence survivors, you can begin a healing journey.
We want you to know that we are here for you at Seneca Health Services. We have therapists certified in various types of therapy, including trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy, which can assist our patients in coping with a traumatic experience. When a patient enters our therapy services, they will find compassion, companionship, understanding, and so much more. If you need help or have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the Seneca office nearest you or use the link provided here.