seuleRecently, I was asked how I got out of an abusive relationship. I am not an expert but I can share my experience and observations.

We are not always aware that we are in an abusive relationship. The first step is to recognize the symptoms. Anger outbursts and beatings are obvious but abuse can take many forms (see this website for information about emotional abuse). We should never be forced into sexual acts or anything that we object to. A loving partner doesn’t treat us like a sub-human. Sadly, we sometimes forget what normal is.

Often, women become attached to their abuser, especially those who grew up with an abusive father. Our relationships follow the same abuser/victim pattern because that is what we know about love.

It is not helpful to confide in friends who are in similar situations. Sometimes, we have short episodes of passive-aggressive revolt that end up like this: “But what would I do alone? Perhaps it would be worse with another man.” and then: “I think I can change him.”

Twelve years ago, I was in an abusive relationship with a man who was twice my age. I was pregnant and feeling trapped. One day, he pushed me over the edge. He yelled at me, threw me on the floor and said he would denounce me to the authorities for sub-renting my apartment (a fabricated accusation).
I didn’t go to work that morning. I called the police because, if I was going to be arrested, I would rather surrender than being turned in by him. In tears, I confessed my “crime”; having this man live in my apartment and being pregnant. How many years was I going to serve in jail?
To my surprise, the officer said that I was not the criminal, he was and that getting abusive men out of their victim’s homes was (sadly) a routine intervention. My abuser went to the hearing with an arrogant attitude, making false accusations and humiliating me for the last time. After a couple of hours, he and his belongings were out of my apartment. I ended my pregnancy against my better judgment. I loved my child but I was scared of his father. It was a bad, rushed decision and in a way, I have perpetrated the abuse I had been a victim of.

Mental and physical abuse are not normal. If you are in an abusive relationship, there is help. Talk to a reliable, down-to-earth friend. Call the National Domestic Violence hotline 1−800−799−7233 – TTY 1−800−787−3224 or the police.

All women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. Take courage and make a phone call today to get out of your abusive relationship. It might be the best favor you will do yourself.