Domestic violence is something that was frequently ignored in the past, but physical abuse of a spouse is now recognized as a serious social problem, and is punishable by law. Once a pattern of abuse is established, it's likely to happen repeatedly, with increasing violence each time. People who stay in abusive relationships may feel ashamed, guilty, and fearful, and they're often socially isolated and unable to support themselves financially. Due to the social stigma, it's usually difficult for a battered spouse to ask for help, but help is available. Police are now receiving enhanced training in domestic violence issues, and, in many communities, domestic violence laws have been strengthened. If you're being abused, you shouldn't hesitate to leave the abusive environment. Abusive behavior is unacceptable, and is unlikely to lessen or stop. You should arrange for a place to go, such as a trusted relative's home, a social service agency, or an emergency shelter. Since physical abuse can have a profound psychological and emotion effect, both the abuser and the abused are likely to require some therapy in order to recover. In some cases, couples may even be able to benefit from marital counseling. For more information on spousal abuse, consult a health care provider in your area.