It is incredibly difficult to decide to leave your partner. There are emotional considerations – you may still love him or feel a great deal of guilt about leaving. There are also practical matters – children, housing, finances. You might decide to leave after an explosion but then feel drawn back into the relationship by honeymoon behaviour. For all these reasons, it takes a long time to decide to leave and in fact women often leave several times before leaving for good. If you have left before and come back, you can think of that leaving as a “dress rehearsal” for what you want to do now. That leaving and coming back gave you more information about your partner and your support network. Maybe your partner promised to change but never did. Maybe you found out you needed more support and you can try to find that support now. You know better now what to expect.
His abuse will not stop because you leave. He will continue to display honeymoon, tension and explosion. He may do that through phone calls and texts. He may do it through children you have in common. He may present himself as a “great guy” to others (honeymoon behaviour) to win them over to “his” side. He may use the legal system to hurt you or he may try to sabotage your relationships with people who support you – your friends and family.
If you need to leave urgently, take your purse and go to a Women’s Shelter. If you feel you can take some time to plan your leaving, here are some things you can do to prepare yourself:
• Talk to a Shelter Worker or someone else you trust about your plans
• Get legal advise
• Open your own bank account
• Make photo copies of all financial statements
• Have in your possession birth certificates and passports for you and your children
• Store any irreplaceable items at a friend’s house (eg, baby pictures, family heirlooms)
Just because you are leaving does not mean that you have decided your relationship is over. Maybe you have decided your relationship is over but lots of women leave just for a while because they need a break from the abuse. You are doing what is best for you right now. Try not to put pressure on yourself about whether this separation is permanent or not. Just take one step at a time. If you feel you need to get away for now, work towards being able to do that.