Leaving an Abusive Partner

Trade-offs and risk

Leaving a partner using coercive control makes some people and their children safer. But for many others, leaving increases danger as the person using violence increases their efforts to maintain control. During and after separating is when someone experiencing abuse and their children are most at risk of being seriously injured or killed.

For some, leaving leads to more uncertainty for the children, or to the loss of a home, job, financial security, cultural connections, social networks, faith community, etc.

Some leave and eventually find things get better and the struggle was worth it. Others regret leaving because their lives remain more difficult and dangerous for many years.

People experiencing domestic violence have a lot to weigh up when deciding whether to stay or leave. Because of the nature of entrapment people experiencing domestic violence can rarely leave a partner without consequences.

Key factors in deciding to leave include the severity of the violence, concerns for the children, the depth and history of the relationship, and social, cultural and financial resources.

Read more about the layers of entrapment

Separating is not an event, it is a process

Separating from an abusive partner is made more complicated by living together and having children, shared finances and assets, shared interests and social networks, and close relationships with members of each other’s family and whānau.

If someone living with an abusive partner moves out to live elsewhere, that is only the first step to independence. It may take months or years to establish independence financially.

It’s not just the abusive partner that makes separating difficult and dangerous. For example, Family Court child care and access decisions often force adults and children into unsafe and unwanted contact with an abusive parent for years.

Support for you

If you are trying to make difficult decisions about the future for you and your children, ringing the Shine Helpline may help you to work through likely outcomes for various choices, and provide you with support, or referrals for support, while you make decisions about what is best for you and your children both in the short and long term.

Supporting someone else

Most importantly, provide non-judgemental support and aroha no matter what, and provide practical help to give them more real choices.

Read more about helping someone else