8 Things Survivors Of Domestic Violence & Spousal Abuse Needs To Know

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8 Things Survivors Of Domestic Violence & Spousal Abuse Needs To Know

If you're the victim of spousal abuse or are experiencing domestic violence for the first time, you're likely feeling scared and wondering what you should do.

What are the next steps to take after your marriage shows signs of violence?

Unfortunately, you are not alone in this spot. Men and women have either been hit, or have hit their spouses, and aren't sure what to do.

Being emotionally, physically, or mentally abused is a horrible ordeal. The fear and pain you're experiencing is normal.

RELATED: If You Feel Any Of These 8 Things, It May Be Silent Domestic Abuse

Well-meaning friends and family may tell you to leave and call the police, or suck it up because your partner is a good person. Worse, they may not believe you or even suggest you deserved it.

It can be a double trauma when this happens, as people's reactions can leave you feeling more depressed, anxious, and confused.

When domestic violence occurs, it brings with it a sense of loss. Loss of safety in the relationship, loss of trust, loss of the feeling of love and protection.

With the losses comes a grieving process. A relationship can benefit from some positive steps after to repair and revitalize the love, respect, trust, and safety.

The truth is, every situation is different. Rather than tell you what to do, here are a few things to consider when spousal abuse happens.

Here are 8 things survivors of domestic violence and spousal abuse need to ask themselves about their relationship.

1. "Do I feel safe?"

Trust and safety are essential for a happy and rewarding relationship. If you don’t feel safe at any point, it's important to leave straight away.

If you're scared of their reaction to you leaving and feel threatened, seek advice from a lawyer. Contact family and friends or a support group to help you.

2. "Am I happy in the relationship?"

Apart from this incident, are you happy in the relationship?

This isn't, "do you love each other?" Loving one another, being happy, and getting on together are different things.

Your happiness is also crucial in considering ending or staying in a relationship after domestic violence occurs.

In other words, is your relationship toxic? Toxic relationships have love in them, so enjoyment is a better indicator of the longevity of the relationship.

Does your relationship make you happy overall and on an ongoing basis?

3. "How am I being treated?"

Being hit by your husband or wife crosses a huge safety boundary and shows disrespect.

Are you respected in the relationship? Are you treated fairly and kindly? If you are disrespected verbally on a daily or weekly basis or treated harshly, then chances are, incidents like this may happen again.

Losing respect in marriage is a downward spiral.

The good news is, respect can be rebuilt. The right guidance in marriage counseling services can help you focus on actions to rebuild trust, respect, and safety.

If you are being treated well and there is respect, then you may be well placed to consider this as a one-off incident.

That would be your choice, but I would definitely recommend looking at resentment — resentment is behind all aggression in relationships.

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4. "Are we willing to resolve this and let go of resentment?"

Resentment in relationships kills passion and closeness. What a lot of people don’t realize is that resentment builds over years — very slowly over a long period of time. This is why it often goes undetected for years until it reaches an alarming level and causes a huge eruption.

Resentment is a form of anger but worse, because it stays longer and builds. If you're in a relationship and don’t communicate frustrations or express your true feelings as you go along, it’s likely that resentment is building. This makes your relationship prone to angry outbursts.

5. "What's going on outside of my relationship?"

When I work with a husband or wife that has hit their spouse once, I always explore both the circumstances leading up to the event and how they feel in life, in the marriage, and in other relationships.

For example: If I find that a husband or wife is angry at life because they are under job-related or financial stress, dealing with a medical problem, recently lost a parent, or had any other significant loss, then anger can come out in ways that are out of character. Especially when drinking or other mind-altering substances are involved.

6. "Are they willing to get help?"

Are they willing to address the issues — be it anger management, alcohol reduction, or addressing alcohol abuse — to deal with any issues outside of the marriage?

Are they willing to work on the marriage, focus on repairing the damage, and take actions to help you feel safe, so you can trust them again?

As the saying goes, actions speak louder than words. If they say they are sorry but aren't willing to do anything to change themselves or make the marriage better through couples' counseling services, there could be a risk that similar things may happen again.

I do believe in the saying "nothing changes if nothing changes"… So, make a change.

7. "Is this a wake-up call?"

For many couples, an incident where a wife or husband has hit their spouse is a wake-up call for change. Sometimes it can be the recognition that the relationship is toxic and you're better off parting ways.

Some couples attempt this through clearing resentment, anger-release hypnotherapy, loving actions, and taking steps to rebuild trust and respect.

If both partners are willing to put in the effort, then maybe they can become the closest and happiest they've ever been. But this is a big decision and needs to take a lot of factors into effect.

Close your eyes, sit in silence, and ask yourself is there a message in this? Is this a wake-up call for change? What's the best right action for me to take next?

If you struggle with this then do get in touch with a trusted confidante or speak to a counselor or therapist to help you determine what's right for you.

8. "Is this a warning? What precautions do I need to take?"

When your husband or wife has hit you, every situation is different. You have to go with what you feel inside. Leaving or repairing the marriage is something that you and only you can decide to do, but you need to take these questions into account when you're considering your options.

If there are repeated instances of physical abuse where domestic violence is happening regularly, there's no excuse for staying.

Get support to help you, whether you seek a relationship specialist, domestic violence support group, or police. If you are scared for your life, act immediately and consider some after physical abuse support, too.

RELATED: 15 Undeniable Warning Signs Your Relationship Is Abusive

Nicola Beer is a marriage transformation specialist and founder of the Save My Marriage Program. If you're considering getting help for your marriage or current relationship, then take advantage of her free individual or couple online relationship counseling session. Or get the marriage secrets e-book now.

This article was originally published at Nicola Beer. Reprinted with permission from the author.