On the face of it, the answer is simple, she should get out.
However, people who have been in abusive relationships know that it is often not that easy. There are financial and emotional factors that hold you together, and quite often there are children, property, family and social ties that convince you it is worth hanging in there and giving it another chance. It might also feel shameful to admit the truth of what is going on in your relationship, or maybe you believe on some level that you have contributed to the violent behavior you are experiencing. You may also think that your partner still loves you and doesn’t mean to hurt you. And what if there are children that you don’t want to disrupt, or pets that you don’t want to leave behind, or maybe you don’t live anywhere near a domestic shelter and don’t have anyone that might take you in if you can’t afford a place of your own?
I have seen women going through these dilemmas time and again. Unfortunately, when you are living overseas the situation can be even more complicated as your family and close friends are in another country, and taking children with you can cause all kinds of legal and custody disputes, which the woman might not be financially equipped to fight. The following illustrates some of the reasons why women stay in violent and abusive relationships:
So, in our case example, should she stay or should she go? Here are some important things to keep in mind:
- Women, and men, in this situation need to know that you should never live in fear of the person you love. It is vital you learn to tell the difference between a healthy-yet-difficult relationship and one that is just not working. No relationship is worth saving at any cost.
- Remember that relationships should be based on mutual trust and respect. If your partner fulfills neither of these criteria, then what are you staying for?
- If your partner has a serious problem with anger, alcohol, or anything else that threatens your safety, then you need to recognize that the problem is theirs, and don’t make it yours.
- If children are involved, consider their safety and what they are witnessing as they are growing up. Is yours the type of relationship you want them to aspire to? Is there a risk the violence could spill over to include them?
- If you are concerned about where you would go or what would happen to the children, seek legal advice and work out your options and your escape route in case you need it.
- Ultimately, where violence is involved, you need to stop waiting to see if things are going to get better, and recognize that your own safety and well-being is the absolute priority.
Here are some websites that might prove helpful if you, or someone you know, is in this situation:
If the subject matter in this article resonates with you, then counselling might be a good option to help you to move forward. I offer a free 20-minute consultation so we can explore how I might be able to help you.