Leaving an abusive relationship is not easy.
What does a woman do when she realizes that her physical and emotional safety, or that of her children, is at risk within her own home? What does she do when the danger comes not from a stranger or criminal, but rather from an intimate partner, the one she believed would love, honour, and cherish her?
How can a woman go about leaving an abusive relationship when she can’t ignore the damage resulting from the vicious and unpredictable verbal and physical attacks he inflicts on her and on their children?
Every woman must ask herself how to get her and her children out of the situation safely.
If you are in this situation, you will likely ask yourself the following questions:
Often when women start to think about leaving an abusive relationship, they worry about how their partner may react, and if the safety of their children could be put at risk.
In addition to this, they may be financially dependent on their abusive partner and unsure of how to support themselves. They may question or doubt whether they can survive on their own.
Every woman living in an abusive relationship must find the courage to leave, but often they struggle to leave their abusive partners for a variety of reasons.
Most women would say that they love their partner and that they don’t want the relationship to end, and that they simply want the domestic abuse to stop.
Often women hope that things will eventually get better. When a partner is abusive, they typically apologize after the incident and promises that “things will be different,” and that “it won’t happen again”.
Women may also find a way to rationalize their partner’s behaviour by saying “when he’s bad, there’s no one worse, and when he’s good, there’s no one better.”
It’s those extremes in the relationship and the dream of what could be, that keep women in abusive relationships. This often happens long after she knows deep down inside that the abuse will never go away. In fact, the abuse tends to worsen with time, regardless of how many last chances she gives him.
When the abuse has finally destroyed all hope for the relationship, fear, and damage to a woman’s self-esteem can keep her there. She may fear what he will do, or that he may follow through with his threats.
She may also fear the unknown, how to deal with life without her partner, and where she would go if she left the abuser.
When a woman decides to reach out for help, there is almost always a pivotal moment that finalizes the decision in her mind and leads her to
For some, it’s knowing that she may not survive the next assault, for others, it’s the terror in their children’s eyes when their partner is being abusive. For others, it’s simply the final loss of any remaining love or respect for him. She may also start to see traits of abuse in her own children, and this may be the final straw.
Whatever leads a woman to reach out for help, and whenever it happens, it is essential that the help and support she and her children need are readily available.
Help is available through the Kelowna Women’s Shelter.
A woman does not have to leave the relationship or involve the police in order to access the continuum of services that the Kelowna Women’s Shelter offers. Generally, accessing service begins with a phone call and contact with an Outreach or in-house counselor who can provide validation, support, information, referrals, and help with decision-making and safety planning.
If a woman finds it necessary to leave the relationship, the Kelowna Women’s Shelter provides safe accommodation, including food, transportation and childcare as well as counseling, support, information, advocacy, and referrals. Additionally, on-going follow-up supports are available to assist a woman and her children in transitioning to a new life free from abuse.
Abuse is never okay, but asking for help is. If you need help or know someone who does, please call the Kelowna Women’s Shelter at 250-763-1040. All services are free of charge and confidential.
Click here to donate now to Kelowna Women’s Shelter.
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This article was originally published 2011, and has been updated in 2020.
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