Help For Getting Out Of An Abusive Marriage
No spouse deserves an abusive marriage, and no spouse should be expected, or talked into, staying in one either.
Different Kinds of Abuse
There are many forms of abuse. In the past, the focus was on physical abuse.
But there are many other kinds of abuse that, although invisible, are just as cruel and harsh. Among the most subtle, for example, is treating one’s spouse with cold indifference and emotional disregard; neglect is abuse.
Abuse covers the spectrum of the whole person and human experience, physical, mental, emotional, verbal, spiritual, social, and financial. All these are abuse, and none is necessarily worse than the other because each creates a harsh marital environment.
To make the situation even worse, people outside of an abusive marriage are strongly opinionated that physical abuse is the only kind that warrants divorce. And to some, sadly, even physical abuse, let alone all the other types of abuse, isn’t grounds for divorce because to them adultery is the only justification for divorce.
What “they” fail to realize is that betrayal and infidelity come in different forms. There are many ways to breach the marriage vows other than sleeping with the “wrong” person. Creating an emotionally or spiritually abusive environment and the different kinds of abuse already mentioned betrays the wedding vows and falls short of the biblical standard and expectation of holy matrimony, a covenant-based relationship.
(In fact, in some states, emotional abuse is grounds for divorce.)
Violence is Violence
Did you know that mental, verbal, and emotional violence are just as harmful as physical abuse, even though they don’t leave marks on the body?
Physical wounds heal and leave scars, reminders of the abuse.
But what about mental, verbal, and emotional injuries? They leave scars, too. Just because you can’t see them doesn’t mean they’re not there, or that situation isn’t serious enough to be addressed.
In case you’re wondering whether you or someone you know are victims of verbal or emotional abuse, here’s a link to an article on verywellmind.com that lists the signs and types of verbal and emotional abuse.
When To Leave An Abusive Marriage
What is the process, and how soon should a person remove themselves from an abusive marital situation? There are many issues to consider:
- The physical health and well-being of the spouse and children.
- If they’re in danger, it’s important to seek help and leave the situation immediately.
If the abuse is verbal, mental, or emotional, the abused spouse has time to form a plan, make preparations and arrangements, and then leave.
The Effects of Abuse
Remaining in an abusive situation for years isn’t healthy and shouldn’t be an option. Being traumatized verbally, emotionally, financially, spiritually, socially, or physically for years crushes self-esteem, destroys one’s identity, shatters confidence, and ruins self-esteem and value.
Seek Help From A Trained and Certified Professional
The abused spouse should seek help from a qualified, credentialed professional with experience dealing with these situations. And if the situation persists or worsens, they should consider seeking safety in a stable home environment for themselves and any children who might be at risk.
Remind Yourself of A Brighter Future
It’s easy to feel helpless and hopeless in these situations and trapped. But a brighter future awaits. The first step towards creating and taking action for a better life is to imagine a more promising future and muster the courage to take care of yourself.
Start Taking Charge of Your Life Little By Little To Build Confidence
Learn something new; take charge of your life. Take some small part of your life back; create something that’s your own. Maybe it’s a hobby, a new job, or enrolling in a class. These small steps restore the courage and self-respect that you will need to make changes in your life.
If possible, engage in physical activity; you’ll feel strong and empowered and meet new people. Physical activity will brighten your mood, improve your self-respect, and boost your self-esteem. It also enhances your physical, mental, and emotional health while reducing stress levels. When you decrease stress hormones, you can better manage your situation mentally and emotionally, making better decisions.
During this time of preparation, as you take charge of your life, surround yourself with people you know, like, trust, and support you. It isn’t always easy to judge people’s trustworthiness when abuse has shattered your self-esteem, so rely on the sound advice of a therapist or counselor when in doubt.
Realize that you’re not the first to go through this, and you won’t be the last. Go to the library or spend time online researching books and articles about the emotional trauma you’ve suffered; look for pathways to healing. Perhaps search for community resources and support groups. The point is that you are not alone or helpless! Others have survived and are now thriving; so will you.
Protect Your Mental Health
And please don’t be hard on yourself for enlisting the support of a mental health counselor. Mental health counselors are trained to evaluate and help people suffering from abuse. If money is tight or restricted by the abusive spouse, you might have success finding mental health counselors at community health clinics, faith communities, or social service agencies, and even through referrals at hospitals and clinics.
If Divorce Is Your Last Resort…
If divorce seems to be the healthiest and safest solution, then do some research and ask around to learn what documents and financial information you might need before seeking a divorce. If your spouse retains the services of a skilled attorney, you can be left with nothing except the clothes on your back. Please protect yourself because you are worth saving and protecting!
If you haven’t done so, establish a credit history for yourself by opening a private savings account or checking account and opening a credit card in your name.
Take your name off of credit cards that you don’t use but that your spouse holds.
Locate your health and life insurance papers, birth certificates, wills, insurance policies, and investment papers.
Take steps to take care of yourself financially. If possible, start to save cash for yourself in an outside account. Explore health insurance policies for yourself if you are self-employed or will need insurance. Begin considering a job hunt.
Make a list of all household possessions that matter to you or have special significance. Consider whether you will be the one to leave or if your spouse will be asked to leave. If you ask your spouse to leave, have the locks changed the day they move out for your safety.
The Intention Of This Article: Hope & Help
The purpose of this article isn’t to incite fear or promote divorce. Victims of abuse are traumatized into a state of emotional helplessness. No spouse should have to endure any abuse or be expected to remain in an abusive marriage. Period. The purpose of this article is simply to encourage abuse victims by giving them practical tips for creating a safe environment and a brighter, happier future for themselves and their children.
HelpGuide: Domestic Violence and Abuse