• Know your rights and local laws, and seek professional help and support when dealing with abuse in an abusive marriage.
• Contact a domestic violence hotline or helpline for advice on legal resources and safety.
• Connect with trusted friends and family members, counselors/therapists, or support groups for survivors of abuse.
• Create an emergency safety plan to ensure your well-being and provide the best protection possible.
Abuse is often hard to recognize, especially from someone you love or care about. According to CDC, over a quarter of men and nearly half of women reported experiencing contact sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner. Knowing where to turn or what to do can be difficult if you’re stuck in an abusive relationship and feeling overwhelmed. Here are some tips to help you find the strength and courage to take steps toward a healthier life.
Know Your Rights
Educating yourself on your rights is key for anyone in an abusive marriage. Knowing your legal rights can help empower you and make seeking help and protecting yourself easier. It’s important to remember that no one has the right to physically or emotionally harm you, no matter their status in life. Here are ways to navigate the legal system.
Contact a Domestic Violence Hotline or Helpline
Contact a local domestic violence shelter or advocacy group for advice and resources. They can also provide support, information about your rights, and options for safety during the court process. Upon calling, you may be asked if you are in a safe place and if the abuser is present. It’s important to take this seriously and answer truthfully. The hotline will want to provide you with the best advice possible.
Know Your Local Laws
Different states have different laws regarding abuse in marriage. For instance, you may have the right to file a restraining order in California. Other states might have different laws or procedures. Knowing the laws of your state can help you understand what rights and protections you have when it comes to filing for a divorce or seeking other legal recourse.
Seek Professional Help
It’s important to seek professional advice from an attorney if you are considering legal action against your abuser. A lawyer can guide and advise on the best course of action. If you have decided to file for divorce, it’s important to find a lawyer experienced in dealing with domestic violence cases. A divorce lawyer can help you strategize the divorce process and protect your rights throughout the proceeding.
Reach Out For Support
When dealing with abuse, connecting with people who understand and are there for support can be helpful. Talking about what’s happening will give you a sense of relief and allow others to advise you on how best to handle your situation. Here are people who can help you through this difficult time and provide a listening ear.
Friends or Family Members You Trust
Even your closest friends and family members may not understand the gravity of your situation. That’s why choosing a friend or family member you know is supportive, nonjudgmental, and willing to help is better. Know who to reach out to in a time of need.
Counselor or Therapist
If you’re overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn, consider contacting a mental health professional. They can provide emotional and practical support in coping with the situation. A therapist may also be able to help identify any underlying issues contributing to the abuse.
Support Groups for Survivors of Abuse
Support groups are a great way to connect with and find support from people who have gone through similar experiences. Such groups can give you the understanding and emotional support needed to help you cope with your situation.
Creating a safety plan is important when dealing with an abusive spouse since it allows you time away from them while keeping yourself safe at all times. Here are tips on how to create a safety plan:
- Establish a safe word with friends or family if you are in trouble.
- Pack an emergency bag with important items like money, copies of relevant documents, and keys.
- Have a friend or neighbor keep an extra set of car and house keys so you can escape quickly if needed.
- Keep numbers for helpful resources like domestic violence hotlines and shelters on hand.
- Keep a cell phone with you at all times in an emergency.
Breaking away from an abusive relationship is not easy, but possible. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and help is available if you need it. If you or someone close to you is experiencing abuse, please seek the support of trusted friends and family, a therapist, or a hotline to get the help and protection needed.