It may seem like should be easy to leave an abusive relationship, it’s not. Many women struggle to leave men who abuse – and the first step is learning how to leave.
The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize it and How to Respond by Patricia Evans is a book that can help you leave. It’s important to learn as much as you can about verbally abusive relationships, so you can figure out what to do.
And, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. Even women who have achieved the heights of fame and success have struggled to leave abusive relationships.
“I have a history of making decisions very quickly about men,” writes Gilbert in Eat Pray Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy. “I have always fallen in love fast and without measuring risks. I have a tendency not only to see the best in everyone, but to assume that everyone is emotionally capable of reaching his highest potential. I have fallen in love more times than I care to count with the highest potential of a man, rather than with the man himself, and I have hung on to the relationship for a long time (sometimes far too long) waiting for the man to ascend to his own greatness.”
Are you with a man you think could be great – but who actually abuses you physically, mentally, or emotionally? Here are five suggestions for leaving emotionally or physically abusive relationships.
How Do You Leave an Abusive Relationship?
Here’s a comment from a reader who is tired of being abused…”I’M DOING IT!!! 4 days to go!!” she writes. “I’m finally leaving my emotionally abusive relationship (one time he choked me). I’ve tried countless times to leave. I decided the only way out is run far, far away. A mover came today and took my belongings to the other side of the country (literally). I’ve booked my flight and accommodation. I don’t have a job on the other side but, I’ll figure something out. I’m outta here! Finally, I can learn to be myself again. I’m no longer going to be nervous or scared to offend that guy.”
Are you ready to replace “I can’t, I’m helpless, or I’m scared” with “I’m doing it!!!”?
Get out of the city
Sometimes the only way to deal with spousal abuse is to move clear across the country. It’s definitely not fair – and very painful – that you have to leave your family, friends, job, and the life you have…but moving away may be the only way to stop abuse and protect yourself and your kids.
Take one step at a time
Don’t get overwhelmed with the whole picture (get a home, a job, new friends, furniture for my new place, etc etc etc) — because it’s completely overwhelming! Instead, focus on the first step: figuring out where you will go. Then, get your stuff packed up – or leave your stuff there, and start over with new stuff (buying secondhand furniture, clothes, and stuff for the house is inexpensive and easy!). When you’re leaving an unhealthy relationship, you have to take it one step at a time.
Gaining the strength and courage to leave an abusive relationship isn’t about coping when you’re unhappily married. Abuse is a very serious problem, and it’s very difficult to get yourself untangled from it. That’s why it takes a step at a time, to leave an abusive relationship.
Focus on building resiliency
How well do you bounce back from problems? That’s your “bouncebackability factor”, or resilience. The easier it is for you to bounce back from problems and setbacks, the healthier and stronger you’ll be. If you aren’t resilient – you tend to let problems get the best of you – then leave me a comment in the comments section below, and I’ll do my best to help!
Focus on why you’re leaving the relationship
Push everything else aside, and focus on how destructive the mental abuse, verbal abuse, or emotional abuse is. Don’t fall into Elizabeth Gilbert’s old habit of counting on your husband or boyfriend’s potential for change. How has he has acted in the past? That’s likely how he’ll act in the future. Let his abuse be your motivation – not a blanket of shame that suffocates and paralyzes you.
If you think that perhaps he can change, you may find Is It Too Late to Repair Your Relationship? A Few Signs helpful.
Protect your kids from their own future abusive relationships
Research shows that many women stay with physically, mentally, or emotionally abusive partners because of their children. These mothers believe they’re doing the right thing for their kids by staying in the bad relationship. Solveig Vatnar is a researcher and psychologist who at the University of Oslo who found that children are harmed by witnessing violence between their parents. Plus, kids who see one parent being abused by the other are at a higher risk for ending up in abusive relationships themselves.
Leaving an emotionally or mentally abusive relationship is difficult…but it’s not impossible! When you’re ready, you can do it. For more insight into domestic violence, read The Abuse Dynamic – Why Women Who Are Abused Can’t Walk Away.
Abuse isn’t your fault, and you didn’t do anything to deserve it. Something is wrong with your partner — not you.
I welcome your experiences and thoughts on leaving physically and emotionally abusive relationships below. It can help to share your story and see you are not alone. For more tips on how to leave an abusive relationship, read When to Leave a Relationship.
IF YOU ARE BEING ABUSED, PLEASE GET HELP FROM THE
NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HELPLINE 1-800-799-7233
I'm glad you're here! My name is Laurie Pawlik-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.