Domestic violence was frequently ignored in the past. Physical abuse of a spouse, more often the wife, is now recognized as a social problem that is punishable by law. Wife or husband beatings are often serious assaults. Once the pattern is established, it is likely to happen repeatedly with increasing violence each time.

Individuals who stay in abusive relationships may feel ashamed, guilty, and fearful. They may be socially isolated and unable to support themselves financially. Often times it is very difficult for a battered spouse to ask for help.

Know that help is available. Police are receiving enhanced training in domestic violence issues and, in many communities, domestic violence laws have been strengthened.

If you are being abused the first step is to admit it to yourself. Prepare to leave the situation by hiding money, car keys, and important documents somewhere safe and available. Arrange for a place to go such as a trusted relative’s home, a social service agency, or an emergency shelter. If you are being attacked, call the police as soon as you can. Leave the house and get medical help, if needed.

Over the long term, you may need support from friends or relatives and perhaps counseling to help you feel more powerful and in control of your life.

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