It is all too common today for women to become victims of domestic violence. The trouble is that they are often reluctant to seek help because that would mean revealing what they consider to be their own weakness and fault. This is because the very nature of such violence is directed at dominating them and making them feel that it is all their fault.
They feel ashamed to think they are the kind of person who has made their spouse abuse them. This is entirely wrong of course. None of it is their fault. And the only way to be safe is to get out of the relationship and stay out. To avoid the need for criminal lawyers, once you make the break, never go back because that just makes it more difficult to escape the second time. Your life could be in danger, not to mention the lives of your children.
So what’s the first thing to do if you are a victim of domestic violence in the form of physical abuse?
- Seek support from family and friends. This can be difficult because part of such abuse lies in alienating you from them.
- Call 000 and report the abuse the next time it happens. Get medical attention and have photos taken of your injuries.
- Recognise the abuse for what it is and know that you have to remove yourself from danger. This should be considered a permanent break, not something that will end over time. You cannot go back because he is not likely to change. If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your children. You don’t want them to grow up thinking abuse is normal.
- Go straight to a shelter for abused women. If you don’t know where one is look in the paper or a telephone directory when the abuser is not around. Or contact a number you find for women’s health in the phone directory.
- File for a restraining order that keeps your spouse away from you.
- Agree to counselling. By undergoing counselling you will begin to understand that the abuse is not your fault. You will be given a lot of help to get your life back, find accommodation, help with child care and advice on education so that you can get a job to support yourself. Doing this will improve your self esteem exponentially.
- Once you have been away from your spouse for 12 months, you will be able to apply for a divorce. If you need to appear in court, remember to take all your documentation, but if you have children, leave them with a carer.
There are many women today that are victims of physical abuse, so don’t feel alone. Once you leave you can have the kind of life you once dreamed of.