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Leaving an Abusive Relationship: How to Protect Yourself

Leaving an Abusive Relationship: How to Protect Yourself

One of the more troubling problems related to domestic violence and abuse relates to the fact that an abused partner often does not leave the relationship after the abuse beings. Rather, abused partners for many reasons choose to stay in a relationship which often results in abuse continuing and in some cases becoming more severe. Unfortunately, the longer the abuse continues, the emotional damage an abused partner suffers becomes more acute.  

Why abuse partners stay in an abusive relationship

According to Craig Malkin, a clinical psychologist at Harvard Medical School abused partners often convince themselves that if they approach the person differently, maybe they won’t be abused.” This mentality is similar to that of a gambling addiction in which “The person being abused is focused on the positive and waiting for the next positive. There’s a psychological effect like gambling: the moments of tenderness and intimacy are unpredictable, but they are so intense and fulfilling that the victim winds up staying in the hopes that a moment like that will happen again.” Preventing domestic abuse and assisting victims of abuse involves understanding the reasons that prevent an abused partner from leaving a relationship.

Barriers to leaving an abusive relationship

Leaving an abusive relationship can present several challenges. Foremost among these challenges is the initial decision to leave an abusive relationship, as many abused partners are, for many reasons are reluctant to leave a partner. Among these reasons, an abused partner may have emotional reasons for staying such as the belief that that the abusive partner will change, fear the abuser will retaliate if the abused partner leaves, lack of emotional support, guilt, and a misplaced feeling of responsibility for the abuse. An abused partner may also have situational reasons for staying in an abusive relationship such as economic dependence on the abuser, fear of emotionally damaging a child due to the breakdown of the relationship with the abuser, lack of job skills, social isolation, a lack of alternative housing and cultural or religious reasons against leaving a spouse.

If you are victim of domestic violence, it is important to hire a lawyer experienced in representing victims of domestic violence. A skilled domestic violence attorney can help, explain the rights you may have and how to best protect yourself from an abusive partner or family member.


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