How do you escape an abusive marriage?

Leaving an abuser isn’t easy, but may be possible with assistance from law enforcement and abuse counselors. An escape plan can be invaluable.

It is common for spouses to need help from others when ending a marriage. This is truer than ever when domestic violence is involved. It can be extremely difficult to escape from an abusive marriage, so New Jersey residents seeking to leave an abusive spouse will need to understand their options.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, about 20 people across the country are harmed by an abusive partner each minute. Over 10 million people every year become victims of spousal abuse. These include men, as well as women.

How do you know if you are being abused?

Many people associate domestic violence with the act of physically harming an intimate partner or children. While it is true that physical violence is one aspect of familial abuse, it is by no means the only form that abuse can take. It may be difficult for a victim who is regularly hit by his or her spouse to admit that domestic violence is occurring. It can be even more confusing for a person who is a victim of emotional, verbal, sexual or financial abuse.

Abuse often starts out gradually, and over time the abuser exerts more and more control over his or her victim’s life. Signs of abuse may include the following:

• Constant belittling, insulting and threats to intimidate and whittle down the victim’s self-esteem

• Shouting, throwing objects and threatening to harm pets or children or destroy personal property

• A feeling of having to always “walk on eggshells” to avoid upsetting the abuser

• Restricting the victim from having access to transportation, money, phone, Internet or employment

• Not allowing the victim to see or talk to family members and friends

It is also important to note that even if an abuser has never physically struck a victim, physical violence may occur without warning at any time.

What steps can you take to get out of an abusive relationship?

Abusers typically make it difficult for their victims to leave. It may help to create an escape plan and involve a trusted friend or family member, if possible. Those hoping to leave an abusive spouse should memorize the addresses and phone numbers of law enforcement agencies and abuse shelters. It can help to put aside some emergency cash, clothing, documents and other belongings in a safe place that the abuser is not aware of. When it is time to leave, this may be the right time to seek a protective order.

How does a protective order work?

Protective orders, also known as restraining orders, provide legal protections to the victims. An abuser is not allowed to contact or go near the victim and may face criminal charges for violating the protective order.

If you are attempting to leave an abusive spouse, you may need to speak with a New Jersey family law attorney who has experience in domestic violence cases. An attorney should also know the steps to obtain a protective order, as well as other resources you may use to help you in your escape.


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