Domestic violence is abuse in a family or close relationship. This relationship could be romantic or with a parent or close caregiver. However, for the purpose of this article, we will be talking about romantic relationships and partners that experience domestic violence with children in the household.
Abuse is detrimental to your mental and physical health. It can cause inflammation, anxiety, trauma disorders, and more. That’s why it is essential to leave a domestic violence situation as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing domestic violence, be sure to call the Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) when you’re in a safe enough position to do so.
Now, let’s look at some ways to navigate an abusive relationship when you have children in the picture.
Find Resources for Your Children
If your children are in danger of being physically or sexually hurt, it’s essential to get them out of the home as soon as possible. Children do not have the same mental capacity as adults to understand what abuse is, and it can scar them for life.
It’s important to find as many resources as possible. If you have to, you can have your children live with family or friends until you are able to leave the situation. In some cases, women’s shelters will have space for you and your children to live for free while you look for permanent housing.
Calling the Domestic Violence Hotline is also a good idea. They can find resources in your area for you and your children. If you’re not able to leave the situation, they can let you know your options with your children.
If your children are biological children of the person abusing you, you may have to work through a custody situation to be able to get them out of the home. In that case, you’ll want to have a child custody and family law lawyer at your side, as well as a legal advocate. Advocates for women going through abuse are available in most towns.
Get Help From Family and Friends
It’s okay to ask for help from your family and friends when in a domestic violence situation or trying to leave one. You don’t have to let them know all the details. See if you can find someone in the family who would be willing to watch your children at times when you need to work through more intense adult topics like divorce or options to move.
Your family and friends can also be backup in court if you need witnesses for the abuse that you’ve been going through and for the abuse of your children. They can also back up that you are not an abusive person if your partner tries to turn the situation against you.
Don’t Blame Yourself
It’s imperative to not blame yourself for the situation you and your children are in. Abuse can happen to anyone of any gender, age, or identity. It isn’t your fault that you’ve stayed in a relationship that is hurting you. Abusive partners are very good at manipulating you to stay.
Most likely, you are a very loving parent who cares very much about the welfare of your children. The most important thing you can do for them is make the choice as soon as possible to get help. It will put you and your children on the path to healing.
If you’re going through a divorce or considering filing one, you’ll want to make sure you understand the custody laws in your state. You can meet with most lawyers for a free initial consultation. They will take down facts about your situation and let you know how they can help you.
Since lawyers are not trained in psychological help, you will want to also contact a family therapist or counselor to speak to during your process. You may also want a legal advocate to be by your side in court. This person could be from a non-profit. They will often offer services for free or at a low rate for people going through domestic violence.
Always remember to be hopeful. You and your children can and will get out of this situation. Once you’re on the other side, there is a handful of resources available for all of you. Thousands of women leave abusive relationships each month. You can do it too!
If you want to learn more about domestic violence, in particular, you can check out BetterHelp’s advice column on the topic here: https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/domestic-violence/.