Getting out of an abusive situation can be extremely difficult for a lot of reasons. The most common reasons that someone may stay in an abusive/violent relationship include 1) fear for children or family members 2) fear of retaliation (physical or other, such as embarrassment, interfering on job site) 3) financial reasons 4) concern for the person who is being left.
Abuse and violence are never O.K.
If you are involved in such a relationship and have children, it is important to consider the effect that this relationship has on them. Growing up in such an environment is not only terrifying and stressful for the children, it can lead to long-term psychological problems such as serious depression, inability to maintain close relationships, and belief that receiving or giving abuse in a relationship is "normal".
It takes a lot of courage and support to break the cycle of abuse. If you are in such a situation, you may need to use every resource available-- legal, spiritual, support groups, family, friends and shelters or hotlines.
There is help available from various organizations.
Legally, your attorney can ask for protective orders from a court. These order your abuser to stay away from you and stop harassing you, and allow the authorities to arrest him/her if the court order is violated.
It can be difficult to call the police on someone you care about, but doing so will create a record of what has happened that will be available for you to show as evidence to the court. This prevents a "he said- she said" situation where the abuser can swear that he/she was actually the abused one, or only struck out in self-defense. If you have injuries or there is property destruction by the abuser, document this with dated photos.
It is never acceptable for someone to abuse a child, animal, or elder at any time. If you see this happening, you must report this to the proper authorities immediately. Even if you are afraid, you must find the courage to do this.
There are some abusers who don't feel that laws or court orders apply to them. If that is true in your situation, you will have to go to a safe place-- a shelter or the home of someone that you trust. Many times the abused partner stays in the home because of a mistaken belief that if s/he leaves then the court will award the home to the abuser. This is not true. Leaving a home for safety reasons will not "count against you" in a courtroom.
Abuse is most commonly thought of as being between a married or partnered couple, with the man as the abuser and the woman as the victim. That stereotype does not always hold true. There are men who are abused by women, parents who are abused by adult children, and abuse occurs in same-sex relationships as well as traditional ones.
If you are dating someone who is violent, or you know that they have a violent streak that is bound to come out, you need to terminate the relationship. Don't wait until the years pass by and you are further entangled with that person financially and in other ways. Get out now.
On a personal note, many years ago, I had a coworker who didn't show up for work one day, It was later discovered that her husband had shot and killed her and she had been living with his abuse for years. Although I didn't know her well, I think of her often.
This month, the Texas State Bar's Client Page focuses on how to get out of a violent situation. Click here to see the article. The article also contains valuable resources to help you plan, and gives resources to help you if you are unable to afford an attorney.
For our own area, here is a link to the Montgomery County Women's Center, which maintains a shelter, and is "Committed to Ending Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault".
- This blog is in memory of "B"
Kalish Law Texas -- The Woodlands Texas
Family Law Attorneys-- Divorce, Protective Orders. Since 1984
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