Leaving an Abusive Spouse

Only you can decide that it’s time to leave an abusive marriage. Beware of well meaning friends and family who tell you to stick it out because things will get better.
Truly abusive marriages do not get better, the violence only escalates.

Once you’ve made the decision to leave, the first few months are the most dangerous, as the abusive spouse is more likely to come looking for you and hurt you in the first six months after leaving. Here are a few things you should know to help you through this tough time:

Do not let him know where you are. Stay in a battered women’s shelter or with family that you trust not to let him know where you are. Well meaning family members may try to set up a meeting between the two of you in hopes of seeing you reconcile.

There is a lot of denial around spousal abuse and the family may think you are overreacting or that “you made your bed, we do not get divorced in this family, just stick it out and it will get better.” This is dangerous thinking. Physically abusive people seldom get better without intense help and often even when anger management has changed their attitude, they most likely will not be able to get through the past abuse and be able to reconcile with you.

Estimates range from 960,000 incidents of violence against a current or former spouse, boyfriend, or girlfriend per year to 4 million women who are physically abused by their husbands or live-in partners per year. – (Violence by Intimates: Analysis of Data on Crimes by Current or Former Spouses, Boyfriends, and Girlfriends, U.S. Department of Justice, March, 1998.)

Continue to seek help for you emotions and in future decision making. Often women who leave abusive relationships are scared to move forward with their lives once they have left the marriage. They feel like they are incapable of making the right decisions regarding their future and their children. There are many support groups for abused and battered women who have made the decision to leave the marriage. Seek out these support groups and let them help you by validating your choices and discussing the fact that you are not alone. The abused women’s shelters, the hospital, and the police can put you in contact with these help lines.

Get medical attention if you need it. Many women will not seek medical attention because they are too ashamed to do so. They don’t want to tell on their spouse and believe that the abuse was somehow triggered by them and the bruises and cuts are their fault.

They are not.

There are many online articles and support sites for abused women who leave their situation. As much as it isn’t as reported, men can be the abused partners as well. The same help and support is available for men, too. In fact, abuse against men is on the increase, but it is seldom reported due to the stigma attached.