What Can I Do?

Woman victim of domestic violence and abuse

What you DON’T want to do is deny it. Denial will only make it worse.

Abuse increases in frequency and nature as the victim lets the abuser get away with more and more. What was once breaking objects escalates to breaking them on you. What began as name calling increases to accusations, which then become threats on your life if you cheat on him or try to leave. Next, the threats may be accompanied by a weapon. All too often, the abuse continues to increase until it ends in death. Sometimes the abuse escalates to murder.

Sometimes children are killed. Sometimes the abuser commits suicide or dies at the hands of his victim or the abuser kills the victim. Sometimes, they all die.

So what can you do?

The first thing you need to do is come to a realistic understanding of how serious and dangerous the abuse is. Get honest.

If your partner curses and yells at you while baselessly accusing you of cheating, maybe professional help with a counselor is all you need.

If your partner has threatened your life while holding a knife to your throat, you need to get out. NOW. You need serious help. The kind you get by calling 911. If you’re not in immediate danger, you can find help at a local women’s shelter or by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).

While these two scenarios are at the extremes of possibilities, the implication is clear. Whether your relationship experiences mild verbal abuse with over-the-top jealousy, homicidal rages, or anything in between, you both need help.

First order of business?

Safety. If you are in danger, you need to get away. You may need a restraining order to keep him away from you.

You are not alone. There are foundations, agencies, shelters. Many people want to help you, so please let them.

When trying to decide if your relationship has any chance of ever being healthy, the real question is this: How hard is your partner willing to work?

Abusers fall into three categories. 

  1. They don’t care what they’re doing is wrong.
  2. They don’t realize what they’re doing is wrong.
  3. They know what they do is wrong, but for some reason, they’re unable to stop themselves.

Maybe your partner just needs to learn some basic rules of relationships. To understand that going through your purse, phone, and emails is wrong. You have a right to privacy, and he’s violating them. Maybe he needs intensive counseling to work on his anger and lack of self-control.

If he refuses to get help, this pretty much puts him in the category of not caring what he’s doing is wrong. If he doesn’t care, he won’t change—except to get worse. If he won’t change for the better, there is no hope whatsoever in having a healthy relationship.

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