"If you're in an abusive relationship, why don't you just leave?" These are the words that can discourage and invalidate someone who is in an abusive relationship.
The simple truth is that leaving an abuser is a much bigger process than packing a bag and yelling "Sayonara!" on your way out the door (this article, ‘Why women stay in abusive relationships’ really nails it!)
I once read an article on STAND! (For Families Free of Violence) about domestic abuse and the statistics are chilling, to say the least.
Yearly, 4 million women will be physically abused by an intimate partner
A victim of abuse will attempt to leave 7 times before finally following through
Yearly, 66% of women and 41% of men are stalked by an intimate partner
In the USA, 30% of the deaths of teenage girls are due to abusive partner violence and, most hauntingly,
70% of domestic violence-related murders occur after the victim has left.
If that doesn't give you the heebie-jeebies, I don't know what does.
With these statistics in mind, here's how to get out on an abusive relationship safely.
1. Recognize you're being abused. If you feel controlled, gaslit, or are being verbally, sexually physically, or mentally assaulted by your partner, it's abuse.
2. Start documenting things. Screenshot texts and emails, take photos of any physical assault you've endured and start keeping a (hidden) journal that describes every instance of abuse you have faced. Audio and video recordings are also helpful when getting the police involved or taking the matter to court.
3. Tell trusted friends and family. These will be your support system when it comes time for you to leave.
4. Call the police. Tell them that you are in an abusive relationship, that you are fearful of what your spouse will do when you try and leave the home, and have them present when you do. This will ensure you can leave in the safest way possible.