Help Getting Out Of An Abusive Marriage
The term “abuse” is associated with physical, mental, emotional or verbal abuse. Although you might be tempted to think that physical abuse is the worst, none of these forms of abuse are worse than the other. All of these types of abuse are just that: abuse.
Too many times, people who live outside of an abusive marriage assume that it’s only physical abuse that necessitates the move toward divorce.
In fact, mental, verbal and emotional abuse are just as damaging but without the physical scars.
Physical scars heal but leave a visual reminder of past abuses, but mental, verbal and emotional injuries leave invisible scars that are often times not addressed.
When people seek help to get out of an abusive marriage, first and foremost is the physical health and well-being of the spouse and children that are in danger. If they are in danger, immediate removal is important.
At other times the abuse is mental, emotional or verbal and the spouse has time to prepare to leave. In either case, staying in an abusive situation and being battered verbally or physically for years, destroys self-esteem and confidence and a sense of one’s identity.
It’s possible to leave the relationship and provide a stable home environment for yourself and your children. Although it’s easy to feel that there’s no future, there’s always hope; a brighter future awaits. So, the first step, if immediate physical danger isn’t an issue, is to imagine and prepare for a better future, and take care of yourself.
Start by creating something of your own. Whether you develop a hobby, a new job, a craft or go back and take some classes, the objective is to learn something new and keep it for yourself. Although you may feel these small steps are useless, they help to restore your self-respect and give you the courage to make changes in your life.
Engaging in physical activity is a healthy way to learn new skills like resistance training or fitness classes; it’s also a great way to meet new people, while also improving self-respect and self-esteem. Physical activity improves physical, mental and emotional health as well as decreases stress. Decreasing the stress hormones in your body enables you to better handle your current situation mentally and emotionally.
During this time of transforming your emotional health, it’s important to surround yourself with people who you know, like and trust for encouragement and strength. Seeing a counselor or a therapist might be something to consider too.
The next step is to research your situation and others like yours by going online or to the library to find books and articles about the emotional damage you’ve suffered. Just know that you aren’t alone and that healing is possible. You might consider researching any services and resources that are available in your community.
Mental health counselors don’t have to be private pay but can also include professionals who’ve been trained to evaluate and help people suffering from abuse. These professionals are found at community health clinics, churches, social service agencies; sometimes you can get referrals from hospitals and clinics.
If the worst case scenario seems inevitable and it looks like divorce is the only option, do some research to find out what personal records and financial information you should collect to protect yourself.
Establish a credit history for yourself by opening a private savings account or checking account, and open a credit card in just your name.
Consider taking your name off of credit cards that just your spouse holds.
Locate your health and life insurance papers as well as birth certificates, wills, insurance policies and investment papers. Start to keep cash for yourself outside of an account.
Investigate health insurance policies for yourself if you’re working from home or begin considering looking for a job with benefits.
Make a list of all of the household possessions. Consider whether you will be the one to leave the current living situation or if your abusive spouse will be leaving. If you ask your spouse to leave be sure to change the locks the day they move out.
Limit the number of friends and relatives who know about your situation to two or three; you will need people for social support and encouragement.
An abusive marriage is unhealthy and emotionally draining. You need to protect yourself and your children. You deserve to be happy, loved, nurtured and cared for. Although it might not seem like it now, a brighter future can be yours. But you have to take charge of your life and take baby steps towards creating a better future.