Domestic violence is a serious problem that affects millions of people every year. A 2005 report by the Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) showed that of 3.5 million reported instances of family violence, 73% of the victims were female. While this statistic includes non-spousal violence, such as child abuse or violence against other family members, closer inspection shows that women were the victims of 84% of spousal abuse incidents. Yet, women often stay in these destructive relationships.
One of the reasons for this, according to Leslie Morgan Steiner, a domestic abuse survivor and National Domestic Violence Hotline board member, is that many women who end up in these kinds of situations believe their partners will eventually change the abusive behavior. At some point, many of these women realize this will not happen and begin seeking help.
However, many women whose relationships become abusive end up being afraid to break away from their partners. Getting out of these relationships can be incredibly difficult because of the constant threat of violence, especially when the abuser gets a hint that the victim might report his actions.
There are many resources for women who want to leave an abusive relationship. The Department of Health and Human Services has a resource center where abused women can seek help and shelter. Shelter is the first thing a victim of domestic abuse will need, since they may, quite literally, be running away from home to find solace from their abusive partner. Many abuse victims are unaware of the legal options available to them in response to what they’ve suffered through. Legal help with items such as restraining orders and potential divorce proceedings are crucial to an abuse victim’s continued safety after breaking away from a toxic relationship.