Have you ever felt trapped in a relationship? I don’t mean philosophically but legitimately trapped. No safe exit. No physical escape. Trapped. Sadly, this feeling is a reality for many people. Regardless of gender, sexual preference, race, or religion. In some cases, it’s just a perception that a danger exists. For many choosing to leave a relationship or get help can be a frightening and overwhelming decision with very real life or death risk.
There is no one roadmap or escape route. Every relationship is different. Every situation bears its own risks, dangers and it is rarely quick, simple, or easy. Options do exist to help, protect, and shelter you and your loved ones. This article is not meant as advice or as a plan to follow; it’s an introduction to the very real world of many people and their struggles and successes in starting over.
How to get help?
The immediate default answer will always be to call 9-1-1 if you have an emergency. In some cases, it might not seem that simple. Depending on whether the abuse is sexual, emotional, spiritual, financial, harassment, stalking, online (cyber) or offline, 9-1-1 might not always have the service(s) you need at the time that you need them. Additionally, going to the police for help can be daunting if you don’t have evidence to back up your side of the story or if you have a questionable background or are in the country illegally.
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When searching for information or help to leave a relationship, you should always be careful to hide (remove) your browsing history from internet searches. This can be done by using an “incognito” page in Google Chrome. It can also be done by conducting searches from a public library computer, an internet café, a school computer, a work computer, or a friend’s phone rather than using your own electronic devices.
What help exists?
No matter what path you choose to try – it will take a large leap of faith and a lot of courage. For support, you can reach out to organizations like talk4healing, fem’aide, or the victim support line (Ontario). There are also provincial contact numbers that most people don’t know about like calling 2-1-1, or #7233 from most cell phones on most major cellular networks.
2-1-1 operates 24/7 and is free and confidential. Via this number the caller may to crisis counselors, gain emotional support, safety planning, legal information, and referrals to safety shelters. When you call the number it says “Thank you for calling 2-1-1”. It will then will put you on hold until you reach a live operator. This service is provided in 200 languages, including 17 indigenous languages.
#7233 is Ontario-based and operates 24/7 for free and provides similar services to 2-1-1.
For males suffering abuse or surviving sexual abuse, there is a 24/7 free and confidential phone number, 1 (866) 887-0015.
When it comes to navigating the legal aspects of leaving the relationship or family unit, try the The Family Support Worker Program. You can learn about the family court process, preparing for court, referrals to specialized supports, safety planning and they will accompany you to court if needed for support purposes. Of course, you can always reach out to qualified family lawyers for more information and support through these difficult times.
Is it safe to leave? Will it ever be?
In many cases, once you gather the courage to leave the relationship and proceed to do so, the hardest part will be in the past. However, on occasion, there may still be lingering problems like ongoing legal matters, custody, child support, and/or physical concerns of violence, etc. that persist for a while. For these reasons, it’s best to sever contact with the party that you’ve left until you are in a safe place and under the guidance of your lawyer or counselor.
Starting over and rebuilding
Getting your life back can be overwhelming and at times extremely scary but there are resources to help you improve your education, gain employment, and to help cover court costs related to leaving and starting over.
Whatever the situation the important thing to remember is that: if you are the one seeking help, you are the one that decides when to reach out for help or not and when it’s safest to go; if you are the one assisting someone to go, you must give that person time and space to decide for themselves when it is okay to go. As much as you may want to help, you do not live in the situation yourself, and the person leaving best understands their partner and their situation. Be patient and supportive but not controlling or demanding. Thank you for reading – please share with others this article may help.