If you're in an abusive situation, the idea of leaving is likely scary—and could even be dangerous. Talk to someone you trust and plan ahead for your safety. Experts can direct you to support groups and crisis hotlines, and can help you find safe places and ways to cope with your feelings. Preparing for a breakup is important, since you'll probably feel lonely and even miss your partner after the split. Experts suggest writing down the reasons why you want to end the relationship, and keeping them as a reminder when you're struggling with the aftermath.
It's important to remember that ending an abusive relationship isn't the same as ending a healthy one. Your partner might not accept it, and could resort to guilt trips, threats, insults, or physical violence. If you don't feel safe, don't break up in person; and if you do meet face-to-face, do it in a public place with a friend nearby. Afterwards, avoid isolated areas and talk to school counselors about changing your schedule so your paths don't cross. Memorize the number to the National Dating Abuse Helpline: 1-866-331-9474. Or log onto loveisrespect.org to live-chat with a peer advocate.
"If you feel that something's not right, something's not right. Please, please don't ignore it," says Sharon. "It's probably going to get worse. We used to carry our children around on our shoulders like they were princesses, and violence was so far off our radar—you just never think something like this will ever happen. I want to tell other people that it can happen, and to please do everything you can to prevent it, because it just devastates you and your family."
Angela Haupt is a health reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at email@example.com.