Domestic violence is a deeply disturbing issue, and when an abuser targets a loved one, it becomes even more abhorrent. Regrettably, domestic violence is more prevalent than many might imagine, with significant consequences. In fact, the statistics reveal the gravity of the situation.
According to recent FBI data, the extent of this problem is staggering. Approximately one-third of female murder victims fell victim to their intimate partners. This chilling statistic underscores the severe consequences of domestic violence, showing that it can, in far too many cases, escalate to lethal proportions.
While not every case of domestic violence ends in tragedy, it is essential to understand that breaking free from an abusive relationship is often the most favorable long-term option for both the victim and any children involved. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that this critical step can also be the most perilous period within the relationship.
If you find yourself trapped in an abusive relationship, there are proactive measures you can take to enhance your safety, but there are also actions you should avoid. Here are some recommendations for both, rooted in the sobering reality of domestic violence statistics.
Ten things you should do to survive domestic violence
Commit to surviving domestic violence
Surviving domestic violence requires unwavering commitment. You must wholeheartedly commit to overcoming the violence in your life. First and foremost, recognize that you deserve to live a life filled with happiness and well-being.
Your worthiness should fuel your determination to improve your circumstances, ensuring a brighter future free from the shackles of abuse.
For those with children, your commitment must extend to their well-being as well. Children who witness domestic violence in their homes are at a higher risk of either becoming perpetrators or victims of such violence in their future relationships.
Additionally, it’s crucial to acknowledge that the abusive partner may harm your children physically or sexually when you are not present. Be ready to make the challenging decisions necessary to break free from the cycle of violence and thrive in the days to come.
Reach out for support
Help is available for those experiencing domestic violence. Various resources exist to assist victims in their journey towards safety and recovery. Many local communities have shelters that offer support and guidance, and it’s important to note that you can seek help without the obligation to stay at these shelters.
Assistance agencies are accessible through a simple internet search or by dialing the 2-1-1 referral line, making it easier than ever to connect with the aid you need.
Create an escape plan
Creating a well-thought-out escape plan is vital when attempting to break free from a violent relationship. It’s crucial to anticipate that the abuser may react violently as they realize they are losing control.
Your escape plan should include details on when and how to leave while minimizing the risk to your safety. Decide on the best timing for your departure and prepare for the steps you’ll take once you do leave. Make arrangements in advance for where you will live to ensure a smoother transition to a life free from domestic violence.
Have an escape bag ready
In the fight against domestic violence, preparation is key to ensuring a safe and smooth separation. One crucial step is to prepare an escape bag, a lifeline in critical moments. Store this bag in a secure location, like with a trusted friend or at a family member’s home. Renting a small locker at a local gym or storage facility is another option.
The escape bag should be packed with essentials, including crucial documents, cash, a change of clothing, and a list of important phone numbers for family and local resources. Don’t forget to consider obtaining a pre-paid phone for the bag, as your regular phone could be seized by the abuser or used to track you in extreme situations
A financial path to independence
For survivors of domestic violence, financial independence is a critical step toward reclaiming control. Opening a separate bank account in your name can provide you with the opportunity to establish a banking relationship and discreetly save money. It’s vital to ensure that the account is with a different bank than the one you and your abuser currently use, safeguarding your financial autonomy.
Ensure your children’s well-being
When dealing with domestic violence and considering escape plans, it’s important to communicate with your children. Reassure them while being cautious not to disclose specific plans. A child may unintentionally reveal sensitive information, potentially jeopardizing your safety.
If your child is old enough, establish a “safe word” that can be used in emergencies. You may inform the child that when this word is used, they should leave the house (or refrain from coming home if communicated over the phone) and immediately call 911.
Consider obtaining a protective order for domestic violence protection
Protective orders, also known as injunctions for protection or temporary protection orders depending on your state, are crucial legal instruments to restrain an abusive party from contacting the victim. These orders can encompass various instructions, including prohibiting the abuser from contacting the victim and the victim’s family, as well as potentially evicting the abuser from the residence and awarding custody of any children to the victim. They are a vital legal protection against domestic violence.
Empower yourself through Self-Defense
Empowerment is key when confronting domestic violence, and self-defense training can be a valuable asset. Abusers often rely on physical dominance to intimidate victims. Learning self-defense techniques can provide you with the means to protect yourself. Self-defense encompasses a range of options, from pepper spray and stun guns to firearms, and good training will teach you when each is appropriate.
If you opt for a concealed weapons permit, keep in mind that the process can take several months. However, some states offer provisions to expedite the process for those believed to be in immediate danger. For instance, Colorado allows for a 90-day emergency permit issuance by the sheriff, and Kentucky recently enacted a law enabling domestic violence victims with protection orders to obtain an emergency concealed weapons permit from the state police.
Vigilance for personal safety
When you find yourself entangled in a domestic violence situation, staying vigilant about your surroundings is paramount. If you are still living with the abuser, it’s crucial to be aware of rooms you should avoid when under the threat of an attack.
Identify spaces that lack avenues for escape, such as small, enclosed rooms, and make a mental note of them. If you have already separated from the abuser, maintaining situational awareness is equally important. Abusers are known to stalk their victims, making vigilance a vital part of your personal safety strategy.
Consider learning self-defense techniques to boost your confidence in protecting yourself. These skills can empower you to react effectively in high-pressure situations. Furthermore, establish a network of trusted friends, family members, or neighbors who can provide support and a safe haven when needed.
Obtain effective locks and surveillance
After successfully separating from the abuser, fortifying the security of your new home becomes a priority. Invest in high-quality locks and consider implementing a robust security system. Surveillance systems have become relatively affordable, making them an accessible choice.
These systems serve a dual purpose: not only do they deter potential intruders, but they can also document any violations of a protection order that the abuser may commit.
A well-secured home can provide peace of mind, giving you the confidence to rebuild your life without the constant fear of intrusion. Moreover, if you have obtained a protective order, this added layer of security can be instrumental in ensuring that you remain safe and free from the threat of domestic violence.
As an additional safety measure, establish a code word or signal with your support network, enabling you to quickly communicate distress without raising suspicion. This extra layer of protection can be invaluable in times of crisis.
Ten things you should not do if you want to survive domestic violence
Don’t blame yourself for domestic violence
It’s common for abuse victims to internalize blame, wrongly believing that they are responsible for the violent behavior of their partner. However, it is essential to understand that the sole individual accountable for the violence is the abuser. Shifting this mindset is the first step towards healing and escaping domestic violence.
Self-compassion and self-forgiveness are crucial for rebuilding self-esteem and mental well-being. Seek support from professionals and support groups to help overcome the destructive self-blame that often accompanies domestic violence situations.
You’re not alone in domestic violence
Abusers frequently employ tactics to isolate their victims from friends and family. Victims might be coerced into moving away from loved ones, abandoning their social connections, or quitting their jobs to maintain control. It’s important to realize that you are not alone. Many individuals and local agencies are ready and willing to provide assistance to those experiencing domestic violence.
By reaching out to local support agencies, you may be surprised at the network of people who are eager to offer help, guidance, and emotional support as you break free from the cycle of abuse. This network can be a lifeline as you work toward a safer, violence-free future.
Trust your intuition
Every situation of abuse is unique, making it impossible for outsiders to provide 100-percent accurate advice. Trusting your instincts and making decisions that you believe are best for your safety and well-being is essential. Recognize that you are the expert in your own life and that your intuition can be a powerful guide.
Be truthful with law enforcement in domestic violence cases
During a domestic violence incident, you might be tempted to provide false information to law enforcement. However, it’s crucial to understand that lying to officers can have severe consequences, ranging from undermining your credibility in future incidents to potential arrest for obstructing an investigation. Honesty can be your best ally when seeking protection and justice.
Maintaining open and truthful communication with law enforcement ensures that your side of the story is accurately documented. This can be vital for building a case against the abuser and obtaining the protection and justice you deserve.
Seek support from your family in domestic violence situations
Families often sense when something is amiss in your relationship, and their concern can be a valuable resource. Rather than shutting them out, rely on your family for emotional and practical support. They can provide you with a sense of security and stability during challenging times.
By opening up to your family, you are not only protecting yourself but also strengthening the bonds that can aid in your journey to recovery and safety. Domestic violence is a complex issue, and the collective support of your loved ones can make a significant difference in your path to healing.
Believe in your ability to escape domestic violence
It’s easy to believe that you are trapped in an inescapable cycle of violence, but the truth is that there are many individuals and organizations ready to assist you when you reach out for help. Believe in your ability to escape the violence, and trust that a brighter, safer future is within reach.
Reject religious approval of domestic violence
It is crucial to understand that abuse is not a manifestation of love, and no faith condones the abuse of a partner or family member. Some abusers manipulate religious texts to justify their actions, but it’s essential to reject this false interpretation and recognize that your faith should never be used to legitimize harm.
Don’t decline medical assistance
In cases of domestic violence, it is understandable to feel embarrassed or concerned about the cost of medical treatment. However, declining medical assistance can be a potentially fatal mistake, especially when dealing with forms of abuse like strangulation. Such incidents can lead to severe injuries or even death if not promptly treated by medical professionals.
Be cautious of returning to an abusive relationship
Abusers can be charismatic and manipulative, especially after an episode of violence. They may temporarily exhibit kindness and caring, appearing to be the person you initially fell in love with. However, it’s crucial to remain skeptical of sudden positive changes. Abusers typically do not change overnight, if at all. Reentering an abusive relationship can be extremely risky and may lead to more violence and harm.
Don’t give up
Regardless of how challenging the situation may seem, remember that things can improve. Escaping a violent relationship demands effort and involves risks, but the possibility of a fulfilling, peaceful life is worth every ounce of determination and resilience. Don’t give up; there is hope for a brighter future free from domestic violence.
A final word
In the face of the harrowing challenges posed by domestic violence, it is crucial to remember that you are not alone, and help is available. The courage to break free from the cycle of abuse and the strength to rebuild your life are within you. By following the guidance provided in this content, you can take steps toward securing your safety, physical and emotional well-being, and ultimately, a brighter, violence-free future.
Please understand that it is never too late to seek assistance, to trust in your instincts, and to believe in your ability to overcome this adversity. Your journey may be arduous, but the pursuit of a fulfilling, peaceful life is a pursuit worth every ounce of your determination and resilience.
Remember, countless individuals and organizations are ready and willing to support you as you navigate the path to healing and a life free from domestic violence. You deserve safety, happiness, and a future filled with hope, and it is our hope that this content has provided you with valuable information and guidance in that pursuit.