•You can’t change your partner’s behavior. You cannot stop your partner’s violence toward you. Your partner is in control of his/her actions, just as you are in control of yours.
•You can’t stay in an abusive relationship and be safe. Without intervention, family violence becomes more frequent and severe.
•You can’t “do the right thing” to please the abuser. It’s not about you. The choice to abuse lies with the abuser.
•You can’t save the relationship by yourself. You can go to counseling, you can “be” whatever you think it takes to make things better – but it takes two people to make a relationship work.
•Don’t blame yourself for your own victimization. It’s not your fault.
•You can’t forgive and forget. It only gives the abuser license to strike again. If the abuser suffers no consequences, he/she has no reason to stop the abuse.
•You can’t shield your partner from the consequences of abusive behavior. “My partner didn’t really mean it … this time, officer!” If the abuser doesn’t want to change the behavior, it doesn’t matter how much he pleads or threatens in order not to face jail. The abuser will promise anything to avoid consequences. Don’t risk your life to help someone who is hurting you.
•You shouldn’t respond to violence with violence. Violence is not an appropriate or helpful response to another person’s actions or words. But remember, if you are in extreme fear for your life, you have the right to defend yourself.
Remember: If domestic violence has made you angry, that is good. Your well-directed anger at this mistreatment is an acknowledgment of your self worth. Healthy anger will make you strong – and that’s vital aspect of getting yourself out of an abusive relationship and into a safe environment.
*Reprinted with permission from Kaiser Permanente Health Plan Communications Planning for Health, 1994 Issue 2, Women in Focus