Are you trapped in a marriage with a man you don’t love, who doesn’t love you? Do you feel helpless, scared, and alone? These tips will help you stop feeling helpless and start making changes in your life!
Here’s what L. says on 5 Stages of Leaving an Abusive Relationship:
“I’ve been married for 34 years, my husband does not want me to have friends. When I call the police, he says they think I’m crazy. I don’t work, so I depend on him…I also take care of my brother who is living with me…my husband talks down to him…I feel trapped and don’t know what to do. My husband says he wants to leave, but he doesn’t. He’s always accusing me of something. I feel alone and just need someone to talk to.”
When you feel trapped in your relationship, there are several things you can do to free yourself – including reading books like Ditch That Jerk: Dealing With Men Who Control and Hurt Women.
The first step to taking control of your life is to get support from women who felt as helpless as you do – and who did what seems impossible to you. They left even when they felt scared, threatened, and helpless as newborn kittens.
When You Feel Trapped in Your Marriage…
“Ask me why I keep on loving you when it’s clear that you don’t feel the same way for me…the problem is that as much as I can’t force you to love me, I can’t force myself to stop loving you.” ~ Author Unknown.
No matter how he treats you, you may still love him. Or, you may yearn for the way your relationship was, or the way you wanted your marriage to be. But you can’t force life or love to be the way you want. The sooner you recognize that you have choices and options no matter how trapped and helpless you feel, the sooner you can start taking action and empowering yourself…
Know that leaving even the worst relationship isn’t easy
People who don’t have experience with abuse or toxic relationships don’t understand why women don’t just leave. And maybe you yourself don’t know what keeps you trapped in a relationship with a man who treats you like dirt. Or maybe you’re like L., who depends on her husband financially, and who has family members depending on her.
When you’re trapped in a relationship, you feel helpless and isolated – because your husband wants you to feel that way. His goal is to make you think you have no options. That’s why he doesn’t want you spending time with your friends or even working outside the home.
Don’t underestimate how hard it is to leave a relationship and let go of someone you’ve been with for so long. This doesn’t mean it’s impossible — it just means you need to accept your reluctance to leave as normal.
Find women who’ve “been there, done that”
I just found a blog called The Last Straw – Support, Motivation, Tips and Warning Signs of Domestic Violence. Rebecca Burns is the creator; she left a man who abused her. She knows what you’re going through because she’s been there, too.
Here’s what she says about leaving when you feel trapped and helpless:
“Looking back I know the answer to why doesn’t a woman just leave. I have said time and time again, I stayed so long because I feared dying more than I feared leaving….[I was in] seclusion from the world for most of my twenties. I have been away from this man now for over 10 years. The physical threat of him was gone after only 1½ years of having him removed from my home, but only because he died of a heart attack. The mental threat of him really only left my mind in the last year. I fear it will remain forever for my son.”
Are your hands tied in your relationship (literally or metaphorically)? Get strength from women like Rebecca, who found the courage to leave.
Start taking action – it’ll help you stop feeling trapped in your marriage
The first step is often the hardest, my friend. Asking for help when you feel isolated, alone, and scared may feel impossible – but L. did it when she commented on my article about abusive relationships! Sometimes that’s all it takes to start leaving a toxic, manipulative man: a simple plea for help on an article.
If you feel helpless, you need to start talking about your life. You can’t leave a man you’ve loved for years unless you rally the troops. And trust me — you have troops! Your church, your kids’ teachers, your neighbors, your family, the people at the other end of the helplines.
You need only ask for help, and help will be there.
Here’s another important tip from Rebecca: “If you call an abuse hotline or someone your husband/mate may consider a threat to him, after you hang up call Information or something like that. Trust me, you never want him to hit redial and find out that you have called and told someone about what he is doing.”
Another reason some women feel trapped in marriage is because they feel emotionally disconnected and alone. If this is you, read No Intimacy in Marriage.
How do you stop feeling helpless? Tell me what makes you feel strong, courageous, and able to take care of yourself – even if you haven’t felt that way for years!
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Kienlen; my husband Bruce and I live in Vancouver, BC with our critters. We can't have kids, and are learning to accept whatever life brings - both good and bad. I have an MSW (Master of Social Work) from UBC, and degrees in Education and Psychology. I hope you say hello below - I can't give relationship advice, but writing can bring you clarity and insight.