Learning how to leave an abusive relationship is a process that takes time. But when you’re ready, it happens fast! Here are the stages of abuse, to help prepare you to leave an abuser.
Now matter how much you know about how to leave an abusive relationship, leaving an abuser is rarely easy. It may help to learn about the specific stages that some women go through before leaving an abusive man.
These five stages of abuse below are based on research. It’s important to remember it’s a woman’s “fault” that she’s staying in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship. Leaving is one of the hardest things she’ll ever do.
If a man is abusing you, read The Emotionally Abused Woman: Overcoming Destructive Patterns and Reclaiming Yourself by Beverly Engel. Emotional abuse is often hard to detect and accept.
Here’s what Tina Turner says about how to leave an abusive relationship:
“Sometimes you’ve got to let everything go – purge yourself,” says this woman who was abused by her husband for 16 years. “If you are unhappy with anything . . . whatever is bringing you down, get rid of it. Because you’ll find that when you’re free, your true creativity, your true self comes out.”
Letting go of a man you love, even when you’re in an abusive relationship, is one of the hardest things you’ll do. One of the most important things is to learn why you’re staying with him — what’s holding you back. Here’s what research shows about the stages of abuse and how to leave an abusive relationship.
5 Stages Women Go Through Before Leaving an Abusive Relationship
According to a University of Illinois journal article, abused woman go through a five-step process of leaving abusive relationships. Below are the fives stages, based doctoral candidate Lyndal Khaw’s dissertation work at the U of I.
Stages 1 and 2 of leaving a man who abuses
“In the first two stages, women begin to disconnect emotionally from their relationships,” said Khaw. You hear them say things like, ‘I started not to care for him anymore’.”
Stage 3 of leaving an abusive relationship
In this stage of leaving an abusive relationship, women go through a collection of episodes of abuse. They start to notice the effects on their children.
“Women make preparations to leave, such as finding a place to stay or secretly saving up money,” she said. “This stage is important for women as they switch from thinking about leaving an abusive relationship to actually doing something about it.”
Stage 4 (going back to the abusive relationship)
“Then, at Stage 4, when women take action, we see a lot of what we call ‘back and forthing’ because when women leave, the emotions often come back,” said Jennifer Hardesty, a U of I assistant professor of human and community development. “They need clarity. They want to be physically and emotionally connected again.”
To learn more, read about the The Cycle of Abuse – From Honeymoon to Hell.
Stage 5 of leaving an abuser
Being gone for six months or more marks the last stage on how to leave an abusive relationships.
How to Get Your Ex Back - Clever ways to bring him back after a breakup.
What Men Secretly Want - Learn what your partner thinks, needs, and wants.
Is Your Marriage in Trouble? - Get FREE advice and a FREE marriage assessment.
“But even then they may have boundary ambiguity if their ex-spouse won’t let them go. With continued contact through court-ordered child visitation, the potential for ongoing abuse remains as well as continued confusion over the abuser’s role in the woman’s life.”
“Leaving an abusive relationship is much more complex than just deciding to change, and it involves more than a woman’s prioritizing her safety,” said Hardesty. “Other actors are involved. The abuser makes decisions that affect a woman’s movement through the stages. And children can be a powerful influence in motivating a woman to get out of a relationship and in pulling her back in.”
Is a man abusing you?
Visit the Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233
Encouragement to leave a man who abuses
Read How to Move Out Without Your Husband Finding Out. This is a very important article for women who want to leave a man who abuses them! It’s written by a woman who left her abuser.
“Don’t wait until everything is just right,” says Mark Victor Hansen, author of the Chicken Soup series, including Chicken Soup for the Recovering Soul: Your Personal, Portable Support Group with Stories of Healing, Hope, Love and Resilience. “It will never be perfect. There will always be challenges, obstacles and less than perfect conditions. So what. Get started now. With each step you take, you will grow stronger and stronger, more and more skilled, more and more self-confident and more and more successful.”
If you can’t let go, read my article about letting go of someone you love.
If you’d like to share your story of living with a man who abuses, I welcome your comments below. Writing about your life can give you clarity and insight.
Do you have a cell phone? Here’s some information from Verizon: “Through HopeLine, the general public can help prevent domestic violence by donating no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories in any condition from any service provider at any Verizon Wireless Communications Store. Wireless phones given to HopeLine are refurbished and provided to local domestic violence agencies or local government and law enforcement agencies for use with their domestic violence clients – complete with 3,000 minutes of wireless service and text-messaging service. Donated phones can help victims of abuse feel safer and less isolated by giving them a way to call emergency or support services, employers, family and friends. Phone donations given locally benefit victims of abuse within that geographic area. To learn more, go to Hopeline from Verizon.”
How are you? All comments welcome!
I can't give you advice,
but writing can help you gain insight.
Peace and blessings,