relationships - dating - love - intimacy - health
The way you think about your relationships, the skills and attitudes you bring to them and the time and effort you put in can make all the difference. People are social creatures and relationships matter to us. We enjoy them, we cry over them and we're curious about how to get our relationships to be the way we want them. How well your relationships work can have a big impact on how satisfied you feel with life. Stimulating, resilient, satisfying relationships with partners, friends and family rank high on many people's wish list for a happy life.

Remember that you're not alone. There are many women who have been through similar experiences to yours.
And there are many people who care and who want to help .


Don't blame yourself

You have the right to live free from violence and fear. You don't have to put up with abuse. You can change your life. Remember...

* You are not the only one: Research shows that as many as 1 in 4 women are in an abusive relationship. It happens to women of all ages, all classes, all races, all religions, all levels of intelligence and to women with and without children.

* You are not to blame: You are not responsible for the violence. Your abuser has choices about other ways to react such as walking away until he is calmer.

* You can't change your abusers behaviour: You'll probably have already noticed that it doesn't make much difference what you do to pacify him, he's violent anyway. The only way for your abuser to change is for him to realise he has a problem and to seek help for his behaviour.

* Ignoring violence is dangerous: Violence rarely happens only once. In fact it's much more usual for the violence to get more serious the longer it goes on. Despite their dominating ways, many perpetrators appear to go to pieces after an assault or if their partners threaten to leave them. They can be very remorseful and promise to stop the violence, give up drinking etc. Women sometimes feel sorry for them and agree to stay.

* Unfortunately, experience shows that improvements in the men's behaviour are short-lived and the violence occurs again. Sadly, for some women, what began as a slap, ends in murder.

* Break the silence - don't remain isolated: You have nothing to be ashamed of. Don't keep the violence a secret. Get help from someone you trust or you can contact one of the many organisations.

* You can phone them even if you just want to talk. You don't actually have to do anything. The more isolated you are, the harder it becomes to take action. Don't suffer alone, there's lots of help out there.

* There is life after an abusive relationship: Although 'starting over' may seem very difficult, there are many benefits. Many women start new and rewarding lives and discover they enjoy living without a partner.

* Many women start new and loving relationships which they never believed were possible when they were with their violent partner. Almost all women speak of the joy of discovering that the things the abusers told them ('you're stupid / ugly / useless / no-one else would have you / you'll never make it on your own, etc.') were not true. See Life after abuse for more.

Make a crisis plan
If you're experiencing domestic violence it's important to have a crisis plan ready in case of emergency. Here we'll show you how to do it. Whatever choices you're making about your relationship, it's a good idea to have a crisis plan just in case you have to leave in a hurry.

This might be when the relationship is over or to escape a particular assault, or to take a break for safety and sanity. Planning ahead can make dealing with an emergency much easier.

This is just a suggested plan of action which you can add to or change to suit you.

* Find somewhere you can quickly and easily use a phone. (neighbour? relative? other contacts?)

* Make and always carry with you a list of numbers for an emergency. Include friends, relatives, local police, Women's Refuge (even well known numbers can be forgotten in a panic).

* Try to save some money for bus, train or taxi fares.

* Have an extra set of keys for house, flat, car.

* Keep the keys, money and a set of clothes for you and the children packed ready in a bag and leave it with a friend you can trust.

* Explain to your children who are old enough to understand that you might have to leave in a hurry and will take them with you or will arrange for them to join you. Discuss the escape drill.

If you have more time to plan, do as much as possible of the following

* Leave when he's not around.

* Take all of your children with you.

* Take your legal and financial papers, marriage and birth certificates, court orders, passports, driving licence, child credit books, address book, bank books, cheque books, credit cards, etc.

* Take any of your personal possessions which have sentimental value - photographs or jewellery for example.

* Take favourite toys for the children.

* Take clothing for at least several days.

* Take any medicine you or your children might need.

If you do leave and later discover you've forgotten something, you can always arrange for the protection of a police escort to return home to collect it.