Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Advice For Domestic Abuse Victims


Should I Stay Or Should I Go? Advice For Domestic Abuse Victims
What you need to consider in an abusive relationship.

As a Psychologist, Dr. Romance knows that when we're surrounded by images of violence, it becomes "normalized" and we stop seeing it as unusual. Anyone who watches the news is becoming aware that we live in a violent society. According to the Peace Alliance:

  • In 2001, almost 21,000 homicides and 31,000 suicides occurred and almost 1.8 million people were assaulted, while about 323,000 harmed themselves and were treated in hospital emergency departments.
  • Homicide was the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24 in 2001.
  • The health-related costs of rape, physical assault, stalking and homicide committed by intimate partners exceed $5.8 billion each year.

Domestic violence is extremely serious — even verbal violence is serious. It is damaging to adults and also to the children who witness it. However, it doesn't have to be a dealbreaker if the person with the anger and violence issues gets help. When my clients experience violence, I strongly recommend that they get out of the presence of the violent person right away and at least for the time being. Often, the threat of losing family is the only thing that will break through the narcissism of the violent person. Once that person gets help, acknowledges that he or she is out of control, and learns to control his or her temper and tantrums, then it is possible that the marriage can be saved.


Learning self-control is not easy for people who are violent. They often have an exaggerated sense that their anger is not a problem — the other person is the problem. They also are usually psychologically wounded from childhood, and this requires some work to resolve. This is compounded by the victimized spouses or partners, who make excuses for the violence, take the blame and are afraid to leave.

Top 5 Reasons To Stay In A Domestically Violent Situation:

  1. Your spouse truly recognizes he or she has a problem, and is willing to get help to fix it, and to be accountable for rebuilding trust.
  2. You two are going to counseling, and understanding why the violence happened, and how to fix the problems.
  3. You're learning how to problem-solve and cooperate as a couple, without fighting or violence.
  4. You have a long, shared history, joint finances and children for whom it's worth keeping the marriage together (see #1)
  5. You still love each other, and it's clearly mutual.

Top 5 Reasons To Leave A Domestically Violent Situation:

  1. Your spouse is in denial, makes excuses, blames you.
  2. You have had it, and no longer feel connected. Be sure this isn't just temporary anger.
  3. You are prepared to be on your own.
  4. You either have no children, they're grown, or you're certain a divorce will be better for them than what's going on.
  5. Your spouse refuses to get help or admit he or she is out of control.

"Family Violence Q&A" can help if there's violence in your family. "Friends in Need: Interventions For Domestic Violence "will show you how to help effectively. Adapted from: "Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About The Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage."

For low-cost counseling, find me at

This article was originally published at Dr. Romance Blog. Reprinted with permission.

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Article contributed by
Advanced Member

Dr. Tina Tessina


Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D.
Dr. Romance Blog:!/DrRomanceBlog
Amazon author page

Location: Long Beach, CA
Credentials: LMFT, MFT, PhD
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