Ending an abusive relationship
According to the Guyana media reports I have been tracking since the start of the year, of the ten cases of domestic violence reported, six involved relationships that had been severed.
This is not an uncommon trait in abusive relationships. Once an abusive partner realizes the other is going to end the connection, the violence often escalates. According to Susan G. S. McGee’s article, “20 Reasons Why She Stays, A Guide for Those Who Want to Help Battered Women” on stopviolence.com, “For battered women who leave the violence is often just beginning. Batterers oftentimes escalate their violence when a woman tries to leave, shows signs of independence or has left.”
The article continued, “Assailants often stalk their partner both during the relationship and after it ends. The batterer’s pursuit rarely ends until he has found a new victim, the victim relocates or the consequences for the stalking are too great. However, some assailants return years later to re-assault or to kill their partners. Assailants are most likely to kill their victims when they believe that she is actually going to leave them.”
Indeed, two of the ten cases reported by the media in Guyana during January ended in death. Three of the ten cases resulted in hospitalization. Both deaths and two of the three hospitalizations involved relationships that had already been severed. There were also beatings and threats, in which law enforcement and the judicial system were involved.
My point is not that anyone should stay in an abusive relationship, but one must be very smart and plan ahead. Make a safety plan that will arrange a way for a safe exit that does not involve more violence.
Here is a safety plan from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV):
If you are still in the relationship: Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs – avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom) or rooms with weapons (kitchen). Think about and make a list of safe people to contact. Keep change with you at all times. Memorize all important numbers. Establish a “code word” or “sign” so that family, friends, teachers or co-workers know when to call for help. Think about what you will say to your partner if he\she becomes violent.
Remember, you have the right to live without fear and violence.
If you have left the relationship: Change your phone number. Screen calls. Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer. Change locks, if the batterer has a key. Avoid staying alone. Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner. If you have to meet your partner, do it in a public place. Vary your routine. Notify school and work contacts. Call a shelter for battered women.
If you leave the relationship or are thinking of leaving, you should take important papers and documents with you to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action.
One other key to the success of protecting those who are leaving abusive relationships is to locate a shelter in which the victims can find safety. If there are no shelters available, victims should be ready to find a safe place on their own. The statistics in just the few short weeks of this year are too high to leave safety to chance.