I live with a man [who] is thirteen years older than I am…. We have three children together that show signs of abuse, because he is a very aggressive person…. He has hit me [too]…. He doesn’t want to marry me… and I know that I shouldn’t stay with him; but it hurts to think of leaving him, and I don’t know what to do.

I feel desperate!… Everyone who knows us says that I should leave him…. I would like your advice, please.

Dear Friend,

Did you know that thousands of women are in the exact same situation as you? To all of you we say: It is dangerous to stay with a man who hits you. Maybe you are willing to risk your own life, but are you really willing to risk the lives of your children? Children who grow up in a home where there is physical violence are more likely to become abusers themselves, or to marry abusers. They are also much more likely to engage in delinquent behaviors, and most will have emotional issues that will affect their lives into adulthood. Is this what you choose for your children?

Physical partner abuse is so common that it can seem normal, especially to those who live in a household where there is violence of this nature. However, it is not normal. It is not something for you to tolerate or endure. Men who hit their women and children rarely stop unless they participate in an extensive program specifically designed to help them. Most won’t agree to participate while their wives or girlfriends continue to offer themselves up as punching bags. And most won’t agree to seek help while their women keep their bruises hidden because of the shame they feel. The abuser and the abused silently agree to keep the family secret hidden from view. And the neighbors, who happen to hear the sounds of violence, turn their heads and act as if they heard nothing.

We encourage you to find safety for yourself and your children today. Take advantage of whatever legal protection the laws of your country offer you, and seek whatever financial assistance your children are entitled to from their father.

There are some men (and women) who only become abusive after many years, but the vast majority of abusive people show signs of this kind of controlling behavior in their teens and twenties. It may show up in fits of anger, inability to control themselves, and physical intimidation. These are danger signs. For those who are considering a relationship with such a person, run, don’t walk, away from them as a potential mate or even as a potential date! Don’t excuse their behavior or believe them when they say that they will never do it again. When alcohol or drug use is involved, the situation is even more dangerous.

Your Heavenly Father loves you and your children very much. If you will trust Him and ask for His guidance, He will help you do what is best for all of you. But don’t delay; your lives may depend on it.

We wish you well,

Linda and Charles