How to leave an abusive relationship

A couple of days ago I shared this post: What does love mean? I have had so many replies and messages from others who have been in similar situations and wanted to share their advice. This is one of the replies I received, and I felt it needed to be shared. 

How to leave an abusive relationship.

This is such a familiar story, unfortunately. Once you are out of this relationship, because you know that you will leave one day, you will look back and be so proud of yourself. What your partner says to you is totally unacceptable. It is emotional abuse. He should not insult you at all. Ever.

You actually are nothing like he describes, it is his own inadequacies that he is projecting onto you. It is about him, the selfish man that he is. Everything is about him. Not you. I know it is hard, but do not take on his words as being about you. He will never change and there is nothing you can do to help him, no matter how hard you try.

You have been strong enough to share your story. You know this is not a healthy relationship to be in. You know you need to get out. It does take time to leave a relationship like this but you need to make a plan of how you will do it, so that you can leave safely with your child. Make that plan asap and focus on carrying out that plan. Go over it in your mind, repeatedly, rather than repeating his horrible words.

You need the support of a friend or your parents so that you have a safe place to go, when you decide the time is right. They will urge you to leave and they are right but they will not understand why you can’t get out straight away. They care for you, no matter whether you have become distant with them lately or not. I’m absolutely sure that you could trust at least one other person much, much more than you can trust your partner to keep you safe and have your best interests at heart. Give them an article such as this one: http://www.nationaldomesticviolencehelpline.org.uk/support-a-friend-or-family-member-experiencing-domestic-violence.aspx so that they know more of how to help you. They will feel as lost as you do about what to do. Also, remember that it is most probably his fault that you are distant from them in the first place. The odd negative comment here, the moaning when you want to go to see them: he will have used many subtle tactics to make you feel guilty about seeing them and to convince you that you don’t need them. His real reason is that he wants you to himself to control and he doesn’t want you talking to them about what he is doing as he knows it is wrong and they will stop his control of you by getting you out of there. He also wants you away from your child for similar reasons. My ex wanted me to throw out my children, even though they were under seven years old. He was very angry with me as I, “Always put them first.” Well, duh! He wanted me to move into a house in the middle of a field in the country away from anybody. I don’t think I would have survived if I hadn’t have got out when I did.

Don’t tell your partner that you are planning to leave. If you have to have that conversation, keep it brief, make sure you are leaving right that moment, make sure someone is there with you, make sure your child is out of the way and make sure you are able to get away from him quickly and safely. He will cry, he will beg for you to stay, he will say that he will change, he will tell you that you are his ‘soul mate’ and that he loves you more now than he ever has and that he can’t live without you. He will try to manipulate you by saying these things. It is all BS. My ex told me that he would kill himself on my bed, if I left him. He said he would make sure I found his body and that he would ensure everyone I knew would know that it was my fault for leaving him. The day after I left him, he was on dating websites finding his new ‘victim.’ If he had killed himself, which I was convinced he would, it would not have been my fault. It would be his choice, totally. It was just his way of trying to manipulate me to do what he wanted as his usual tactics hadn’t worked.

After you have left cut off contact with your ex-partner completely. Block him on everything. Do not read or reply to any of his messages, not even just the once. The faster you do this, the faster you will heal. You will feel so much stronger for this. If he repeatedly bugs you, visits your home, anything, note it down and record everything as evidence. Keep the messages, emails, Facebook messages, everything. You don’t have to read them, just leave them there or save them onto an external hard drive or something so you still have a record of them. Consider an injunction if it gets bad. Do not reply to any of his messages. If you need this evidence one day, it might be seen as you engaging in conversation with him rather than him pestering you. Don’t pass off the tenth message or so as being normal. That is, if he does that. He might not.

When it is safe to, read The Freedom Programme online-you will understand exactly what is happening to you and how to stop it happening again with someone else. It costs about £10 but it will be the best £10 you will ever spend. Find a support group. Read, read, read stories online from survivors of this. You will be surprised how many people this has happened to you and how they feel the same as you are feeling now. This will help to give you the strength you need. Knowledge is power. Make sure you are safe browsing online, if you choose to do this before you leave, and that he is not around or checking your internet history, even if you think he isn’t. This is very important.

You deserve to be happy. You don’t have to have a partner to do that. You need to be on your own for a while to recover from this before you find a new partner. Please get out as soon as you can, trust me, it will only get worse. Much worse. Being a single Mum is a much, much happier life than you have right now. You will learn to love it and the opportunities it brings to spend happy times with your child. Your child is the most important person in your life, after all.

You have put your life on hold for six unhappy months with him. He is being abusive to you, with very typical traits of an abuser. He has hooked you in with his fun guy persona. That fun guy is not a part of his character you will see again because he was never real. He may use him again to hook you back in when he feels he is losing you. He will remind you of the good times and how he can be like that again. He won’t, not longer than a few hours each time. And trust me, this gets less and less. You are seeing him as his true self now – a man who wants total control over you. Do not try to salvage the relationship. Just go.

It may take you some time to remember who ‘you’ are. He has made you feel dependent. You are not dependent on this poor excuse for a man; he has just made you believe you are. He has been the one working hard to take your self-esteem away. Someone who loves you would build it up. This man doesn’t love you, as he has no idea what love is. You, however, do. Even if he has made you feel confused about the matter. You know deep down what you expect in a loving relationship and this is not it. A relationship goes two ways. People in a loving relationship do not try to control like this.

Some things you can do to help your situation before and after you have left:

  • Read up on emotional, financial and sexual abuse but do it in a safe way, cover your tracks online.
  • Make notes of the things that he does that upset you. I was a fool and filled up two whole notebooks before I finally believed that it was NOT me that was the problem in any of this.
  • Talk to family and friends, no matter how hard it is.
  • Speak to someone from a domestic abuse helpline, if you need to.
  • Make a plan to leave but do not tell him anything at all about it.
  • I found that giving the minimal reaction and trying to stay very calm was a tactic that worked for me. For the usual, “It’s your fault that…” statements, I used to reply with, “Oh, ok. I didn’t realise,” or, “It seems like you should do this yourself.” I used to say very little towards the end.
  • If you can, find a councillor or someone like that to talk to that specialises in Domestic abuse. I found that hypnotism has worked very well for me, but I left this until I was ready, which was a year after I’d left.
  • Realise that it will take time to recover from this. You will have the odd bad day where you don’t think you can do this but these bad days are so mild in comparison to your bad days now. These days will get less and less.
  • Write down three things that have made you happy each day. I’m guessing they will have nothing to do with him. You could focus on your child and any achievements you make, no matter how small you think they are.
  • Write down only good things about yourself. Repeat these in your head, as often as you can. Every day. In the morning, in the evening, when you eat, when you make a drink, over and over again. You are a great Mum, you are an amazing person and you are worthy of much, much more than this.
  • Ignore anybody that doesn’t believe you if you tell them you have been abused. People will believe you but some people cannot believe that such a thing can happen, without them realising. They feel guilty because they weren’t able to help in the way they wanted, so they deny that it could have happened. They will tell you that their relationship is like that and that you are overreacting. They will not realise that you are not telling them everything. They will not realise the full extent of the treatment you have received. They will only base it on the experiences they’ve had in their own relationships. Some people will be unable to imagine what you have been through, as sometimes your words will not be enough to convey what he has done to you. You might not even realise for a long time after you’ve left him. You do not have to prove anything to anybody. You are in a relationship. You are not happy in the relationship. You have left the relationship. They would do the same for much, much less.
  • Do not downplay it as not being that bad or being your fault for not doing enough. You have done enough. It is that bad. You don’t need an excuse to stay. You need to just leave.

You will find happiness again one day, but you need to escape him first. Sending you all the strength I can. You can do this! I didn’t think I could do it but I did. It took me nearly two years to leave, after I realised I was unhappy and being slowly destroyed by this manipulator. I’d urge you not to take that long. I absolutely regret not leaving sooner. I missed out on some amazing moments with my children, friends and family. The best decision of my life was to leave that man. I’m happier now than I’ve ever been but I never thought I’d ever get to this point. It is absolutely possible. You can do this! Sending hugs xxx.

P.S. I hope some of this helps you. This is based on my own feelings and experiences. I am not qualified to give this type of advice. This might not totally fit your circumstances, although I think most probably will. If you do take any of this advice, please do it in a safe way. Get help from domestic abuse helplines if you are in any doubt about anything. 

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9 Comments

  1. June 17, 2016 / 12:59 pm

    I read the post a couple of days ago and I simply didn’t have anything to write… I wanted to comment but I was left speechless. It is such a sad situation to be in, especially when you’re pushed people away and it feels like you’re on your own. I really hope your friend finds a way to leave this toxic relationship. Renee at Mummy Tries has written a lot about cuties toes with people who are toxic / do not make you happy and I would definitely suggest reading Become the Best You (Renee Davies). x

  2. June 17, 2016 / 2:33 pm

    I wish my mum would read this. She has been in an abusive relationship for over 35 years and no matter how hard we try and help her and get her to leave, she just won;t do it :0(

  3. June 17, 2016 / 3:46 pm

    I read this post holding my breath, it is so powerful. I’m so sad that abusive relationships exist, but it really happens. I am sure this will help women in this awful situation, help them get out of it. x

  4. June 20, 2016 / 2:17 pm

    Kate, that was such a powerful post to share and it must be so awful to be in that situation. I am glad that you shared it with your readers as hopefully the information may help someone in a similar situation.

  5. November 7, 2016 / 1:09 pm

    Have the courage to do the right thing, don’t look back at those memories and histories. You don’t deserve to be unhappy, don’t settle for the second best. We are strong women.

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