Illinois residents and others who are in abusive relationships are encouraged to leave their partners if it is possible to do so. However, for many, the mere mention of a divorce or separation could put their lives in jeopardy. Generally speaking, victims of domestic violence stay with their partners because they know or believe that they are capable of causing emotional, physical or financial harm. It isn’t uncommon for an abuser to threaten to harm a victim’s child or pet in an effort to intimidate that individual.

An abuser may also attempt to obtain custody of any children that he or she had with the victim. Obtaining custody of a child allows a violent individual to remain in a victim’s life and retain a significant level of control over that person. Those who want to leave their partners may not know where to go once they decide to end their relationships.

Without access to money or other assets, it may be difficult or impossible to book a hotel room, rent a car or pay other expenses typically incurred while moving. Those who feel as if their friends or family members won’t support them if they leave may feel as if their only option is to stay with their abuser. Finally, religious or cultural norms may make it difficult for a person to justify leaving an abusive relationship.

Those who are victims of domestic violence may have various options to protect themselves and their loved ones. For instance, it may be possible to obtain a restraining order or take other steps to minimize the threat a spouse or partner may pose. Victims of domestic violence may be able to obtain sole custody of their children, and it may also be possible to terminate an abuser’s parental rights.