The Stages of Breaking Away
Victims who break away from violent partners often pass through similar stages. Each stage may repeat or emerge independently, and a victim´s experience of breaking away will vary according to the batterer´s tactics, the victim’s resources and history, and the length of the relationship.
“Still Running Scared” Stage
When a victim first leaves a battering situation, they may have strong feelings that the abuser is all powerful and that the world is unsafe. They may constantly look over their shoulder or out the window and jump if the telephone rings or panic at the sound of the doorbell. This reaction will eventually pass.
“Can I Be Loved?” Stage
This may be the most critical stage. Feelings of loneliness, isolation and grief begin to emerge. The victim may feel very emotionally needy. Perhaps for the first time in years, there is no immediate crisis to divert feelings, and they must decide whether it is worth it to stay away from their partner. It is important for victims at this stage to get support from friends who can re-affirm their sense of self worth.
“Can I Really Do It?” Stage
This is when the victim acts on their decisions. They prepare to get on with their life. They will question whether they can really succeed in taking care of them self and their children. Good resource information through a hotline or shelter can help a victim navigate the confusing maze of social services, housing and legal needs that they may have.
Passing the Crisis and Moving On
The victim has been independent of the batterer for some time, and they define them self in terms of their strengths. They have made it and feel good about them self. In order to underscore their achievements at recreating their life, they can help them self at the same time they help others. Formerly battered victims are essential to support groups as facilitators, to hotlines as listeners, to shelters as advocates, and to leadership and renewed strength.