Leaving does not mean your partner will stop being abusive. In fact, they may become more abusive as you attempt to leave. They may be so afraid of “losing” you that they will increase any threats to hurt you, the children or themselves. You are the best judge of how dangerous your situation may become if you attempt to leave.
You may also feel overwhelmed by financial concerns – including where you will live and how you will afford to take care of yourself and your children. Thinking about economic survival can be discouraging and frightening. The domestic violence/sexual assault program in your area can help you sort through the many challenges you have ahead and can help you get the emotional and financial support you may need.
If you have made a decision to leave permanently, allow yourself to feel the natural grief at the loss of your relationship. No matter how bad it was, there were good things too, and it was a very important part of your life. Leaving is often a process. Many survivors who have been battered leave and return several times before permanently separating from the relationship. Be patient with yourself.
You may feel emotions of loss, sadness, and depression. Accept these feelings as natural and allow yourself to experience them. If you find yourself thinking, “I’m stupid to care after what I’ve been through” or “I shouldn’t feel this way,” remind yourself, “it’s okay for me to be feeling this way now.”
Building a strong support system is essential when freeing yourself from a violent relationship and when making a healthy transition to being a survivor. The support could include:
- concerned family and friends (they may need to do some reading or talk to an advocate to better understand your experience)
- an advocate from a domestic violence/sexual assault program
- a mental health counselor (if you choose to seek counseling)
- a member of the clergy or spiritual leader
- a support group
- your children
You have been strong enough to keep your family together under difficult circumstances. Now, with the help of a support system you can become strong enough to build a life without violence.
While there are certainly many additional questions and considerations you may face while you decide to stay or leave, these are a beginning. It may also be helpful to list the positives and negatives, or pros and cons of both staying and leaving. Questions other women have asked are:
- What do I gain by staying/leaving?
- What do my children gain by living in a violent home?
- What are my expectations for the future? How can I work to get them?
- What am I willing to do without necessary – material things, my health, my emotional stability, my self-esteem, etc.?
- What is the price I’ve been paying to stay in this relationship?
- How will staying/leaving affect me one year/five years from now?
- What do I value? What do I want and need from myself and others?