How to protect yourself legally if you are experiencing domestic abuse

Finding yourself in a situation of abuse can creep up on you without you even realising it. Those first few heady weeks of a romance hold so much promise – but in weeks, months and even years can take on negative overtones without you even noticing.

Declarations of love can become obsessive control. The desire to spend all your time in your special ‘bubble’, can become acts of isolation. Taking control of the finances can be a determined effort to cut you off from the rest of the world. Bursts of rage and anger are a justified response to some perceived slight on your part.

Before you know it, you are living in fear.

Why do people stay in abusive relationships

From the outside looking in, the question is often raised about why people stay in abusive relationships. It is easy to pass comments from a position of safety and security and question the logic of staying with someone who emotionally and physically hurts you. But the situation is so much more complex.

Erosion of confidence

Often the descent into abuse is so slow that it is barely discernible, and when you throw love into the mix, there can be a significant amount of self loathing that contributes to it. Even the strongest of people can lose confidence. If you are living in circumstances where you are constantly being questioned, blamed, gaslit, for even the smallest of issues, you are going through what can only be described as ‘death by a thousand cuts’ – you might not see, feel or notice them all, but these micro aggressions compound together and become your reality. However, you don’t see it as your reality, but something that is the result of your own making.

Within this, you start to doubt your own version of events, leading to doubts, confusion and self blame. Guilt becomes a powerful tool in the hands of a perpetrator. They know where your weak points are, and will jab at these at every opportunity. Before you know it, you are living in a state of perpetual fear.

Isolation

One of the harshest weapons wielded by abusers is isolation. Those moments when you felt so special because your partner just wanted to spend time with you to the exclusion of all else, soon becomes a prison in which your contact with anyone in the outside world is micro controlled by your partner, leaving you stranded in a sea of confusion and hurt.

The situation only gets exacerbated if children are involved. Often physical and emotional abuse is further compounded by financial abuse – you have no, or limited, access to any funds. Even if you were to leave, where could you go with no money. Passports and other forms of identification are held by your partner. Any form of communication is controlled and monitored through tracking apps, hidden cameras and other methods of high street surveillance.

Taking steps to protect yourself

You need to be consistent and methodical in your attempts to extricate yourself from an abusive relationship, and it will take incredible strength and courage. There are several legal routes that you will want to go down when the time is right, such as a non molestation order or an occupation order. However, before you get to that point, you need to be in a position to have as much information and proof as possible demonstrating the extent of the abuse that you have been experiencing.

The road you are on is long, fraught and littered with complexities. However, the one overarching fact that you need to keep a hold of is that no one should be expected to continue living under the constant threat of abuse.

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