Stop The Wheel Of Abuse

US statistics on domestic violence are terrifying. A woman is battered every 15 seconds. One in four women will be physically assaulted by her partner. One in three teens will be abused by her boyfriend. While both men and women have been known to carry out acts of violence, 95 percent of hospitalized victims of domestic violence are women.

victim of domestic violence

Occurrences of male abuse against women are exponentially higher and more dangerous than the reverse. Domestic violence isn't a trend -- it's an epidemic. And, according to Kristen Howell, director of development for Genesis Women's Shelter in Dallas, Texas, it is pervasive, intergenerational and often deadly. She offers advice on how to recognize traits of an abusive relationship and, more importantly, how to get out of one in a safe manner.

My Life
  1. Speak up. Tell someone what is going on, and get help before things escalate. Write a letter if you can't say it out loud.
  2. Be prepared. Decide the next most healthy step for you, and take actions to make it happen.
  3. Get away. And then take steps to make sure your distance is maintained.
  4. Start over. It's scary, but once you do, you'll have your power regained.

"Many people mistakenly believe that domestic violence begins with a physical assault," she says. "Verbal and emotional abuse often act as part of a grooming process that is aimed at one partner having power and control over the other person." She also warns that an abusive partner can have hold over his counterpart through rage, hostility, isolation, obsession and intimidation. "He also will hurt things that are important to her -- pets, children, special belongings. It's all to gain control."

Howell offers the following advice on how to get out of an abusive relationship:

Tell someone

The first thing a woman should do when she realizes she is in a violent relationship is to tell people who can help. Professionals can devise safety plans, assist with documentation for police reports, divorce and custody battles, and more.

Do what works

Some women decide in one day that living with abuse is no longer an option, and they will leave and never look back. Other women prepare methodically -- gathering important documents, getting finances in order, developing a safety plan with a lawyer. Either way is fine, and the most important thing is leaving safely.

Keeping away

Leaving is one step in getting away. Keeping him away is the next hardest step. Abusive partners will go to great lengths to win the relationship back, so it is important to cut ties as much as possible.

Ask for help

Starting over is expensive, daunting, lonely and scary. But women can get through that part with support and resources. Expert counseling makes a big difference in navigating the confusion and keeping on track.

Diane G. Sagan, author of Shelter from the Storm and a survivor of a 10-year abusive relationship, found relief for herself and her children at a local shelter. "After being in denial for a long time, I began making a secret plan to save money. I thought I could hold things together for six months, but I didn't even come close."

Sagan has made a career out of her past experiences, using her life's events to create a fictionalized story of a woman who successfully removes herself from an abusive relationship. She also serves as an inspirational speaker and mentor for women who are going through similar tough times. She urges women not to take matters into their own hands but to use the legal system instead as leverage to start over.

"Do not go back, no matter what he promises you," she emphasizes.



Comments on "Tips and advice to get out of abusive relationships"

Laura January 11, 2013 | 11:00 AM

To Linda Bordelon: I would have to say once an abuser, ALWAYS an abuser. Never EVER trust anyone who abuses people.

Waking up in Dallas May 19, 2010 | 4:34 PM

my earliest memories involve domestic violence -- later I was adopted and there too domestic violence existed. I vowed my entire life I would never be a victim of domestic violence.... and now --- AHHHHH --- I've come to a new understanding about myself --- I am a victim of Domestic Violence! I am at a total loss -- MY MIND IS NOT HELPING ME WORK THIS OUT -- I am disgusted with myself and how I've failed to do something sooner (and stick to it) -- Now I am in a life crisis, -----> my children rarely get to see me

Sue Kay March 20, 2010 | 12:24 PM

Stay with the devil you know! I left a lethally abusive situation in Knox, Indiana to go to "The Caring Place" in Valparaiso, Indiana in September 08. They mistreated women, psychologically, physically and emotionally there. Every day we were warned that they would kick us out on the street if we didn't do chores, write their evaluations, or have the proper 'attitude'. No help was given for psychological counselling or transportation or getting your life back together. When I asked for help, they said, "Find your own way." I needed medication for my Lupus, when they found out, they gave me 4 hours to find somewhere else to stay. I was and still am emotionally devastated by the whole experience. DONT EVER ASK FOR HELP in Valparaiso, Indiana. The Caring Place is the exact opposite!

Celia Andrade Swait March 05, 2010 | 5:39 PM

God Bless we all.The survivors of a "Domestic Violence"

regina January 30, 2010 | 3:11 PM

hi lam trying to start a program on domestic violence an i need some help how to do this .l no many women has been abuser but its hard to get out of this mass so lam trying to do something to help the women .

Celia Andrade Swait January 28, 2010 | 7:27 PM name is celia Andrade Swait.I was abused fisicly and mentaly from my husband during 26 years and 8 months.Then finaly i move out from our house.Now i am a free to be happy and live a noraml life.I Love my life and im a very happy .If you are in the same situation that i was.dom't be scared...move out and be a happpy to.

dolores pena January 28, 2010 | 7:13 PM

I'm a survior of domestic violence also I'm 34 now and it started when i was 17 I left 4 years ago. I'm still in the healing process it was a long hard road and at times he tries to get in trying to make me feel like it was my fault. In his eyes he is the victim while he is incarcerated trying to figure out why our daughter called the police well I know he will never change and the best thing I could of ever did was leave.

LaGuardia Community College January 28, 2010 | 11:37 AM


cindi January 24, 2010 | 6:47 AM

I am a teenage survivor I was 16 when I started dating my abuser but to be honest I cant tell you when the abuse started we have a child together she is now 15 years old. I am now married to a wonderful man of almost 5 years and I have sole custody of my daughter but I still see him from time to time. I have court coming up soon for child support that he never pays and Im scared and I really dont know Why? He hasnt physically harmed me in almost 9 years but he has threatened to pre-marriage..I dont know what to do maybe im just overreacting? hmm

plursensation January 22, 2010 | 12:19 AM

I survived domestic violence over christmas. My x boyfriend brutally beat me and almost killed me. These men DO NOT change and they DO NOT love you. It is ALL ABOUT CONTROL. NOTHING ELSE. If any of you would like to read my story, you can go to my MySpace. The story is posted in my blog section. www.myspace/1337nai

Tonya L. Ware January 19, 2010 | 5:23 AM

Are there any shelters for women in the Middle GA area, or the Atlanta area?

linda bordelon January 18, 2010 | 6:25 PM

do men change from being an abuser in one relationship and going to another relationship, what are the chances that they will repeat with all women they are with

Dee January 09, 2010 | 12:15 PM

Staying away is the hardest thing to do even if the abuser is violent.

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