It’s not something many people are comfortable discussing; but the sad reality is that many people across our country find themselves in situations where domestic violence and abuse enters into their relationship. The form and severity of abuse can vary, but the result is often similar: trauma, emotional upheaval, and a long-term psychological impact are all common reactions to abuse. If you feel that you’re in a relationship right now that may be abusive, here are some steps you can take toward safety and healing.
Get legal support.
There are things that can be done to protect you from the person that is abusing you. If you are currently going through a separation or divorce, make sure your legal team know about the abuse as it can have a significant impact on the divorce proceedings and custody arrangements. A legal specialist like the lawyers at Streeter Law can also help put you in touch with police officers who will ensure that you and your children are protected at all times and that all appropriate legal measures are being taken against the abuser.
Understand that abuse doesn’t always look the same.
Because of certain stereotypes and media portrayals, some people believe that domestic violence only happens to women, and only involves physical violence. In reality, abuse can occur in many types of relationships, can impact men or transgender people as well as women, and can take a wide variety of forms. You can experience sexual, emotional, financial, and verbal abuse without your partner ever laying a hand on you. These forms of abuse are still dangerous and worthy of attention and care, so try not to allow stereotypes to stop you from reaching out for support.
Develop a safety plan.
If you don’t yet feel ready to leave your relationship, it’s still important to put a safety plan into place to protect yourself in case the situation escalates to reduce your odds of being seriously hurt. This plan can include having an emergency bag packed that’s hidden and ready to be taken with you if you decide to leave in a hurry, a special code that you can send to a friend or family member from your phone if you need help, and particular numbers like the local police and local domestic violence support services programmed into your phone under false contact names so you can call for help quickly if necessary. Make sure your emergency bag has everything you will need with the assumption that you may not return; so that should include your ID, important documents, money, and important items for your children if you have any.
Know that you can speak out.
You have the right to speak out at any time if you feel that you are experiencing violence or abuse in your home or in your relationship. That doesn’t necessarily mean going to the police and filing a report if that’s not something you feel ready to do. There are confidential phone lines you can call at any time with trained counsellors who can speak to you and offer advice and empathy when you’re struggling. You can dial 1-800-RESPECT at any time to speak to someone. You deserve support, and reaching out could be your first step to a new start.