I Feel Trapped in an Abusive Relationship. How Can I Get Help?

Our home burnt down several months ago and he blames me as a cigarette was left lit in the ashtray which set the house on fire. He threatens to leave me all the time, yells at me, puts me down and turns my phone off. I lost my car in the fire and I am on disability and he takes my money every month to pay bills. I have nothing and am dependent upon him but I want out cause of the abuse. He forces sex on me also. What help is there for me. I cannot even find a therapist that takes Medicare. I have been diagnosed with PTSD, depression and anxiety. I am on anti-depressants. I have tried to commit suicide more than once. I need help and cannot get it. - Trapped
Dear Trapped,

I am so very sorry to hear of what you have been through. I am going to provide some information here, and it is my hope that you will seek help as soon as possible. It may feel like your situation is hopeless, but with the right help and support, you can get out of this situation and create a better life for yourself.

Reaching out for help can be difficult, but you have already taken the first step, which tells me you are ready. There are people out there who can help you. If you are at any time feeling suicidal, please make that call for help; know that your life can get better and you deserve that chance. If you feel you are in danger of hurting yourself or others or are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, you can speak with a counselor at the following number: 1-800-SUICIDE. To learn more about this resource, visit this page of our website: https://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

The first thing you need to do is establish a safety plan to get out of the unsafe and abusive situation you are in. There are several options you have in terms of getting connected with the right community services.

You can contact your local police department and let them know your circumstances, and they can connect you with a local domestic violence shelter or a domestic violence counselor who can guide you toward proper safety planning. They can also provide you with community resources for counseling, housing, and other resources through Medicare or other government funding.

In some states (depending on where you are located), you can dial 211 from a landline to connect with a hotline staffed by people who can point you in the right direction of where to get help.

Here are also some websites and phone numbers that you can use to find appropriate services in your area:


National Domestic Violence Hotline
Staffed 24 hours a day by trained counselors who can provide crisis assistance and information about shelters, legal advocacy, health care centers, and counseling.
1-800-799-SAFE (7233)
1-800-787-3224 (TDD)

Women coming out of abusive situations often struggle with feelings of low self-esteem, self-blame, and self-loathing. It’s important to focus on building yourself back up and to regain your sense of worth and identity outside of this abusive relationship. You do not deserve, nor do you cause, his behavior, and it is not up to you to fix him. You need to get out and take care of and heal yourself.

It is important that once you establish safety, you get help and support for yourself through on-going counseling and support groups. Expect that it is going to take some time to heal, but you can do it!

I wish you all the best.

Dana Vince, MA, LPC, MHSP, is a Knoxville, Tennessee-based marriage counselor specializing in infidelity and affair recovery.
  • Leave a Comment
  • Stacy

    August 31st, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Just get some help and move out of such a relationship.Its not worth it and the more you delay the more you are harming yourself.Take action.

  • Elizabeth D

    September 1st, 2012 at 5:44 AM

    This is such a scary situation that you are trying to navigate! You have to get out now. You are worth so much more than how he is treating you. You have had so many terrible things happen to you, think about how strong you really have to be to have endured this much for this long. There are shelters in almost any town willing to house women and children who are living in abusive homes, and I encourage you to find one of those so that you can feel safe while you plan out your next steps. Best of luck to you, and stay safe.

  • will

    September 1st, 2012 at 7:19 AM

    he takes your money, forces you into sex.that is enough to get a strong case of abuse if you ask me.he is only exploiting you because he thinks you are afraid or cannot be independent.prove him wrong,take the matter into your own hands.please don’t suffer quietly,do this for you and for the many others who suffer in silence.

  • Erica

    September 1st, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    I am happy to hear you coming out with this. This is the first step and you have taken the first step. now go on to slowly move ahead and take charge of your life. Seek help if required but do not, and I repeat, DO NOT take such abuse anymore. You do not deserve it even if the house burnt down due to your mistake, you did not do that on purpose.And by the way you describe this man,I wouldn’t be surprised if he was blaming you about the cigarette even though it wasn’t your mistake in the first place!

  • Brennan

    September 1st, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    He must really have been an abusive partner for a while now for you to still be in this relationship.
    I know that it has to feel scary to leave, I think that all of us can sympathize with that.
    But that’s what you have to do to keep yourself sex. He thinks nothing of you anymore than he would any possession. He has you under his control and for most abusers that’s what it’s all about, having a feeling of power and control over someone when they don’t feel that elsewhere in life.
    If he gets an inkling that you are looking to run then he might explode so before he has the chance to do that I would recommend that you get the heck out of Dodge.

  • Jacqui b

    September 2nd, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    I live in a fairly small toen, and even here there are three or four shelters that are open which I know try to help women who are being abused by their prtners.

    There are shelters and all sorts of resources available if you are willing to look for them. For some women this will mean starting to look far in advance of when they actually get the courage to leave, just so that they will know where they can flee to.

    You don’t want to throw up any red flags.

  • A.O

    September 2nd, 2012 at 3:26 PM

    U r only allowing him to gain a sense of authority and power over you by NOT doin anything.by ur description he is a criminal who deserves no mercy from justice, u really need to show him his place n stop being harassed n abused by him!

  • Leesa

    September 3rd, 2012 at 5:59 AM

    I hate it that women have allowed these kinds of men to have control over them for so long that they no longer realize that they do wield some power in these relationships and that they do not always have to sit back and let these men have so much control over them.

    How have we let this systematically wear us down and bring us down so low? I am woman so hear me roar! I am tired of feeling like I have no control and that I have to let men be in control simply because they are men.

    For anyone in an abusive relationship I say that they can say that they will change but it is rare that they do. Get out while you can.

  • stacy l

    September 4th, 2012 at 10:56 AM

    The writer of that letter has had so many horrible things happen to her within such a short amount of time that she must feel at a loss as to what problem to address first. The one thing that she needs to d for sure is to get out of that situation where he has so much control over her. With someone like that you never know when they are going to explode and that is just not a healthy situation for her to be in right now. I understand that this could be someone that you may have even loved at one point in your life but you have to ask yourself if he loves you now, if the things that he is doing to you speaks to the fact that he loves you. If the answer is no then there is really no need to stay.

  • GARY

    September 4th, 2012 at 2:20 PM

    Nothing can justify the things he is doing to you.He only sounds like someone who needs a reason to justify his horrible ways and the cigarette incident is now being used.Im sure it was something else before and it will be yet another thing in the future.There is just no chance of being happy with someone like that.I suggest yous eek help immediately and rid yourself of this unhealthy situation.

  • Woody Q

    September 5th, 2012 at 4:19 AM

    One often overlooked element to a story like this is that women are not the only ones who have to confront abuse.

    Often in marriages and relationships, there are men facing issues with abuse as well, and this could be physical or verbal abuse.

    All too often though men are embarassed to admit that this is happening to thme and so they stay just so they won’t rock the boat. Let’s just remember that this is not something that is always gender specific in the way that we generally assume that it is.

  • sarah

    September 5th, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    my husband has also been emotionally abusive for a very long time… an open marriage that is only open for him and i am not allowed to leave the house without one of our children….

  • michelle R

    May 23rd, 2015 at 8:05 AM

    my husband and I have been married for 15 years and he has always been abusive! He started off with the physical abuise first then o er the years it has become more verbal and emotional. We have 4 children that he does this in front of. Because of our financial situation I can not afford to leave and support my children. He often withholds paying his portion of rent and groceries to “teach me a lesson “. He forces sex in me almost daily and says I’m a horrible wife because I do not please him when and where he wants. I need help on how to get out!!

  • The GoodTherapy.org Team

    May 23rd, 2015 at 12:03 PM

    Thank you for your comment, Michelle. We wanted to provide links to some resources that may be relevant to you here. We have more information about domestic violence at https://www.goodtherapy.org/therapy-for-domestic-violence.html and additional information about what to do in a crisis at https://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

    Warm regards,
    The GoodTherapy.org Team

  • cat b.

    July 5th, 2017 at 1:42 PM

    I am also in a bad marriage for 17yrs. He just changed overnight a couple of yrs ago. He’s a alcholic and drinks day and night. We are being evicted and have been without power and water for 5 months. I am recovering from a broken hip and leg a nd can’t work. I Need help but I can’t leave my pets behind. He abuses them to. Please help

  • Russell K

    June 21st, 2020 at 8:15 PM

    I feel stuck I don’t know what to do I hate the way she makes me feel and any time I try to tell her she hurts me… she threatens to hurt herself and I am scared of leaving and being alone… I know I have people that care about me but I distance myself from everyone and if she finds out I told anyone bout the stuff she does she snaps on me… I haven’t had the best childhood or anything and I have issues with PTSD and it feels like she uses it against me to hurt me… she calls me names and threatens me constantly and if I try to leave she begs for me back… or she does the total opposite and act like she don’t care about me and never did care until my thoughts get to me and i try to stay away but she just finds ways to get me back into the loop… I just needed to vent I’m tired of hiding what is happening and I can’t take it. I just want more than anything to be happy again instead of everyday feeling like I am not…

  • The GoodTherapy Team

    June 25th, 2020 at 11:32 AM

    Thank you Russell for commenting here and sharing your experiences.
    If you’d like to meet with a therapist near you for support, you can search for a mental health professional here: https://www.goodtherapy.org/find-therapist.html
    If you or someone you know is in crisis, you can find a list of crisis resources here: https://www.goodtherapy.org/in-crisis.html

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