Getting Out of an Abusive Relationship


Families, where many would hope to find security and safety, can sometimes be very dangerous. Some research has found that one in four marriages experience at least one violent episode. And while women can certainly abuse their partners, men are responsible for nearly double the amount of domestic violence. There are two aspects of domestic violence that magnify its danger. First, children who grow up in an abusive situation often become abusive themselves. The second aspect is that women in abusive relationships tend to remain with the abuser. The truth is that several factors contribute to their immobility:

  • Fear of greater danger: Women often worry their abusive partner will hurt them worse or even kill them if they try to leave.

  • Love for one’s spouse: While it may seem impossible for a woman to love her abuser, the love usually exists before the abuse begins, making it difficult to leave the situation.

  • A sense of duty and responsibility: Women often feel they are the ones who must save a relationship and provide support to their spouse, and it is difficult to forsake this role.


  • Don’t blame yourself for your spouse’s violent treatment: By now you may have such a low self-esteem that you feel entirely responsible for your spouse’s behavior and abuse. Remember, it is NOT your fault. You did not cause your husband’s or wife’s anger. He has a problem with controlling his own actions, and he uses you as an excuse to release feelings of aggression. Abuse often comes from those who have few coping skills, who feel out of control, and who lack self-esteem. You did not cause these characteristics. 


  • GET OUT! If your spouse abuses, give him or her an ultimatum. Demand that he get help for his problem, or you will leave. However, if your spouse agrees to get counseling to learn anger management, you can trust your situation will most likely improve. If abuse happens a second time, don’t stick around. Remaining in such a relationship will encourage a cycle of violence and will endanger your life and the lives of your children.

  • Learn what resources are available to help you: Police departments are usually trained and educated to deal with domestic violence cases. Shelters are available in most communities and provide temporary housing, emotional support, and information regarding your legal rights and additional services available. The hospital or your doctor can also help you get in contact with social services. Let these services help you. 

  • Ask for help: Find someone you can turn to, share your feelings, and describe your situation. Although you may be afraid to tell anyone, establishing a network of people who are willing to help you out will ease the strain of coping and leaving. Also, don’t ask others to promise not to tell any authorities. Your friends and family can be additional resources in getting you out of your dangerous situation and into a safe place.


Burr, W. R., R. D. Day, and K.S. Bahr. Family Science.