Common Questions You May Have
Below are some questions you may still have as you think about your options. This section will also address some of the concerns you have for your family as well as your abusive partner. Always know that you are not responsible for the consequences or outcomes the abuser may face because of their choices.
“Is this my fault?”
No! If you have been threatened, hurt, insulted or controlled or have had any other form of abuse happen to you, it is never your fault. It is the abuser’s actions – not yours – that force you to make difficult decisions to protect yourself and your family. You may feel guilty that the relationship didn’t work but it is important for you to know, you’re not the one “destroying the relationship” or “breaking up the family.” You are the victim, regardless of what the abuser and others say!
“What will people think?”
Most of us care about what others think. You may feel that others will judge, condemn, push you away or ridicule you for the situation you are in. However, when it comes to your safety and the safety of your children, you have to make choices regardless of what others think. This is a critical time in your life and it is important that you think of yourself.
“How can I help my partner?”
Domestic abuse is about one person’s decision to manipulate and control their partner. You may be tempted to “fix” the abuser because you want to “save” the relationship and keep your family together. It is not your responsibility to “fix” the abuser or the relationship. If you think you can help your partner by enrolling them in a program of some type, understand that their willingness to participate does not mean their behavior will actually change.
“Can my abusive partner change?”
You should plan for your safety based on who your partner is right now, not who you want them to become.
Anyone is capable of changing their beliefs and behaviors if they choose to. Abusers typically do not take responsibility for their behavior. They blame partners, stress, alcohol or drugs, anger, loss of control, an unhappy childhood, or someone or something else for their actions.
But, these things do not cause abuse. Unless the abuser takes full responsibility for their actions, they will not change. Regardless of what your partner does, it is important to plan for your safety.
“Will I be able to make it on my own?”
You are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for. You have already shown tremendous problem-solving skills just by surviving. You may feel like you can’t make it on your own but you have the ability within yourself to do what is needed. And, help is available. The key is to use the resources available to you when you’re ready. It’s OK to ask for help.
“Will my children hate me?”
It is common for children to be angry. Your children may be resentful or feel like you broke up the family. However, remember that the abuser is the one who caused the situation. It is not your fault. In most cases, children will direct their anger toward the parent they feel safest with, which may feel confusing to you. They may be upset or disappointed, but children are resilient.
It may be difficult, but try not to “bad mouth” the other parent or force the children to “choose sides.” Help them understand that everyone’s safety is your primary focus. Most importantly, focus on your relationship with your children and keep it as positive as you can. Consider involving other people you trust to be a support system to you and your children.
“What if I change my mind?”
Don’t second-guess yourself
It takes courage to make choices that are in the best interests of you and your children. Sometimes those choices may seem so overwhelming that you change your mind. You may be thinking:
“Maybe I will go back, it wasn’t always bad…”
“We have so many years together, maybe this time my partner will change …”
“I really do love my partner…”
It is very common for victims to second-guess the decisions they have made. You may feel scared, guilty, or worried about the unknown and who you can rely on for help. You are not alone. Many victims have felt this way. In fact, many have reported leaving and returning before they were able to leave permanently.
You may feel guilty about reporting the abuser’s actions to the police or even requesting an order of protection. The abuser may threaten you or pressure you to change your mind. It is important to know that anytime you change your description of events, it doesn’t help your case and there may be negative consequences.
Always consider your safety and the safety of your children. Changing your mind by staying, returning or allowing the abuser to come home will not guarantee the abuser is going to change their behavior.
You may decide to end the relationship permanently. Know that many victims report that when looking back on their choices, the one thing they would never change was ending the relationship. They realize that, despite all the challenges, their lives are so much better without the abuse. It is never selfish to put the needs of your children and yourself first!
Important Note: The information in the section “Getting Safe” describes standard practice in New York State, but your experience may be different. Each case is unique and dependent upon availability of resources in your community.