Brase: Leaving abusive relationships is vital to maintaining mental health

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Haley Brase

Abusive relationships, no matter if they are physical or verbal, slice away at a person until his or her body is nothing but skin and bone. And this makes leaving a toxic relationship an obstacle that is nearly impossible to face, but it is vital to one’s physical and/or mental health.

People may stay in abusive relationships because they are scared and don’t know what to do or how to even realize the way their partner is treating them is wrong. It’s also possible that they might not know how to react because they do not understand why they are being treated the way they are; why someone who cared for them could harm them.

“On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States — more than 12 million women and men over the course of a year,” The National Domestic Violence Hotline reported. 

It’s common for someone to say he or she has been in an abusive relationship, but when it’s a friend or family member, your opinion and level of awareness changes.

I have family members who have dealt with a physically and verbally abusive individual, and it makes me wonder, how could this start?

Financial problems, alcohol and the abuser having been abused as a child are the most common reasons why abuse is a continuous cycle, but none of these are good enough excuses to hurt someone they love. 

In the aftermath of an abusive relationship, victims deal with psychological effects such as anxiety, anger, disassociation, mood issues, post-traumatic stress, shame, self-destructive behavior and extreme trust issues, according to

The longer the victims stay in the relationship, the more difficult it will be to heal. 

I have experienced a verbally abusive relationship in the past, and for a long time, I was shocked that it even happened.

The effects of an abusive relationship are all too real and how a person decides to use the resources around them is the deciding factor of either working toward healing or remaining wounded.

Many places exist on and around campus that will provide a safe environment for victims of abuse after they make the hard choice to seek help.

Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support, or ACCESS, has a 24-hour crisis phone line, shelters to protect victims and counseling and educational programs to explain effects of abuse and how to cope.

ACCESS has an 18-bed shelter in Ames for anyone who feels unsafe at home. The shelter’s goal is protect anyone from violence. A person who stays at the shelter will receive food, clothing, personal hygiene products and anything else they may need.

Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART, is an agency that includes workers involved in law enforcement, health care, advocacy and prosecution. Agencies in Ames include the ISU Police Department, the Ames Police Department, the Story County Sheriff’s Office, Mary Greeley Medical Center and Thielen Student Health Center.

Victims who contact SART can choose which department they want help from, and their personal information will remain confidential.

Survivors in Iowa have 10 years to ask the county attorney’s office to pursue a criminal case, or 10 years after they turn 18 if the assault took place while the survivor was under the age of 18, according to Iowa State’s SART program.

Anyone can access the daily crime log on the Iowa State Police Division website to see what types of crimes have been committed, where the crime occured and if the perpetrator was arrested.

In addition to the daily crime log, victims can use IowaVINE to find current information about past incarcerated offenders.

Abuse can tear a victim apart, but choosing to leave the relationship will lead to a healthier lifestyle. Local agencies are available and ready to help, but it is up to the victim to either heal the bruises they never deserved to receive or to hallow out like a skeleton.

It’s never too late to seek help and start living life again and to one day find someone who makes it clear that leaving that abusive relationship was the right thing to do.