All of us dream of having a happy relationship. But as we all know, it doesn’t happen all the time. We encounter fights and problems along the way. We either grow together or grow apart. In an ideal situation, even if it doesn’t work out the way you want it to be, the choice is still there. However, people in abusive relationships know how hard that can be.
“Why don’t you just leave?” is probably one of the most common questions we ask family or friends when they confide to us that they’re experiencing abuse. But ending a significant relationship is never easy. It’s even harder when you’ve been isolated from your family and friends, psychologically beaten down, financially controlled, and physically threatened.
The problem is leaving your abuser is hard. Leaving someone who is willing to hurt you is difficult and dangerous. You’re going to get your freedom from them and it’s bound to make them angry. This is why it’s crucial to plan in advance how you can safely get out of an abusive relationship and be prepared for post-relationship life.
Making the decision to get out of an abusive relationship
Sometimes, the decision doesn’t come easy. Sometimes, you still feel confused, uncertain or frightened at the thought. Maybe you’re still holding on to the hope that your situation will get better and that your partner will stop hurting you. Maybe you’re just terrified of how your partner will react if he finds out you’re trying to leave. You may even blame yourself or feel weak because you’re embarrassed to admit that you can’t leave your abuser. So, one moment you may be desperate to leave and the next, you may want to hang on and stay positive about the whole thing. Don’t be trapped by confusion, guilt, or self-blame. The only thing that matters is you and your safety.
If you are being abused, remember:
- It’s not your fault that you are being battered or mistreated.
- Your partner has issues and you’re not the cause of their abusive behavior.
- You deserve to be loved and treated with respect.
- It’s okay to seek help for the terrible things happening to you.
- You deserve a safe and happy life. If you have children, they deserve to be happy and safe too.
- You are not alone. There are people waiting to help.
How to get out of abusive relationships
1 Stop the denial and recognize you’re in an abusive relationship.
Stop making excuses for your partner. The first step is to recognize and realize that your relationship is unhealthy and you must get out of it. Notice the red flags. It’s common to wear rose-colored glasses when you’re in a relationship but don’t ignore the warning signs. Talk about your relationship with your family and friends. Ask them if they think you’re experiencing something abusive and listen to their inputs if there’s a toxic behavior from your partner.
2 Go to your support system.
If you’re being abused, it’s good to have your loved ones around you. Talk to them about your situation. If you’ve been cut off from them, chances are they’ve been waiting for you to come to them and ask for their help. Don’t hesitate to reach out. They will help you throughout the whole process. They will ensure that you never go back to that abusive relationship.
3 Don’t announce your decision.
Keep your decision to only a few people. If you’re planning to leave, try to get your preparations as quietly as possible. Don’t go around telling other people of your plans other than your support system. If you’re not careful enough, your partner might get a hold of your decision and get angry. This could lead to more abuse or worse, they might try to confine and seclude you from the outside world making sure you can’t leave.
4 Avoid abusive situations.
If you’re trying to get out of the relationship, the best thing for you to do is gain back some confidence and power. What we mean by this is if you know that a particular situation can trigger abuse, stay away from it. But try not to arouse suspicion as this can make your situation worse. Just keep your distance from your abusive partner so that your plan of leaving them go smoother.
5 Plan for a place to go.
When you leave, where will you go? It can be a friend’s house or your parent’s house. If you have money, have a new apartment ready in some place he doesn’t know about. The point here is to have a safe place where they can stay away from you.
6 Gather all your important documents.
If you’re living together then you probably have all your documents in a shared place. We doubt that you can just walk in and politely ask for all of them. This will not only raise suspicion; your abusive partner will not be that willing to hand them over nicely. Make sure to gather all these forms and cards as quickly and quietly as possible. Get them out and ask a trusted friend to store them safely until you’re completely out of the relationship and away from them.
7 Have someone with you when you actually leave.
This is not only for you to move your belongings easier but more so for your personal protection if they try to hurt you. Get a few different friends or family members to be with you just so your abusive partner will not have a chance to try and make you stay. Bring people with you so that you can also get everything out of there quickly. Get the police involved if you think it’s necessary and will make you feel safer.
8 Constantly remind yourself why you’re leaving.
Leaving can be hard. Most especially if you’ve been in an abusive relationship for so long already. Maybe you’ll get lured back by their charm and their promises of change. Don’t listen to that voice saying you need to go back and try again. Remind yourself again and again about why you’re leaving, what they did to you and who they are as a person. Remind yourself that you are your own priority. Put yourself above everything else. This can help you see clearly again.
9 Cut them out of your life COMPLETELY.
Now that you’ve managed to get out of the relationship. You must remove them from every aspect of your life. Consider filing charges and a restraining order. This way your abuser can’t go near you again. COMPLETELY get rid of them and everything about them. Get rid of all their stuff. Delete and block their number and on all social media. Don’t let them have any way of contacting you. This makes it easier for you to get over them and to see that what they did to you is horrible. It doesn’t give them the opportunity to further the abuse.
10 Seek professional help.
Abuse is traumatizing. Studies have even shown that survivors of domestic violence have symptoms similar to PTSD. Counseling, therapy and support groups can help you pick yourself up again and bounce back from the terrible experience.
Taking the steps to heal and move on
Being in an abusive relationship creates scars in your psyche. The trauma and the memories of everything you’ve endured can stay with you even after you’ve escaped from your abusive partner. Once you’ve finally removed yourself from your abuser, spend time talking with your loved ones. If you’ve been isolated from them, reconnect with these people that you’ve missed for a long time. If you don’t have many family or friends, then try making new friends. This can help you trust in people again and they can help you find your grounding.
Attend support groups. There are lots of men and women who survive abuse, and all of them need to talk. Finding a community of people with similar experiences can help you learn to process the negative emotions that you’re likely experiencing after ending an abusive relationship. Don’t try to do it alone. You can be surprised at how many people share the same experience and feelings that you do. And you can all heal together with the help of each other.
Seek therapy. You may struggle complicated feelings, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger that you just can’t kick. Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. A therapist can help you work through your feelings and thoughts.
Connecting with other people, counseling, therapy, and support groups for survivors of abuse can help you process what you’ve been through and learn how to rebuild yourself and build new, healthier relationships in the future.
Building healthy new relationships
After getting out of an abusive situation, you may be eager to jump into a new relationship and finally get the intimacy and support you’ve been missing. This may not be a good move. You’re still healing. Try not to rush into a new relationship. Many victims of abuse want to rush into a new relationship to fill the void that is inside of them brought by their previous relationship. But you should not rush your recovery. Enjoy and take the time to know yourself first again. With enough time, you will heal and eventually find someone who loves you and respects you for who you are.