About 95 percent of victims in cases of domestic violence are women, and these violent circumstances are present in as many as two-thirds of all marriages. Although these figures are shocking all by themselves, it’s even more shocking that the victim almost never leaves the spouse after the violence occurs. If you’re abused as a child, it increases the chances that you’ll perpetuate violence later in life.

That should make the question of whether or not you should divorce a spouse after a divorce or domestic abuse occur all the easier: of course!

There are a number of reasons that a person will decide to stay with a spouse after enduring violence. One of them is the legal system and its many faults. Some would describe it as a broken system, but there are many options and services available to those who need help.

No matter what you think, you need to act. The longer you wait, the worse the violence will become. There are shelters. There are pro bono lawyers who specialize in domestic violence. Call the police. Get yourself and your children to safety. That said, it’s a good idea to speak with a lawyer before you do. If the court doesn’t agree that you had ample reason to remove yourself or your kids from the home, then it might affect alimony later, your ability to return home, or your chances for child custody.

When you’ve escaped from that environment, you should consider filing criminal charges. Your lawyer will help you determine what a spouse might be charged with, whether it is assault and battery or sexual assault.

Court may help alleviate your situation, but it could take time before you might get court-mandated custody of your children, possession of assets, or a restraining order.

An attorney will help you collect your thoughts and write up an adequate list of facts in the case, from threats and accusations, to medical records, to the results of the violence. State and federal laws protect you from domestic violence, and you should use these protections to your benefit. Get to safety. Call a lawyer, and then the police. File for divorce. When all that is done and over with, you can finally move on with your life.