Anyone who has never been in an abusive relationship will never understand how difficult it is to leave it.
3 years later when I look back at my abusive relationship I tell myself that if anyone was treating me that way now – I would leave them straight away.
The thing about an abusive relationship is that it does not start with an abuse. An abuser only attacks his/her victim when the ladder is deep in the relationship and is manipulated so much that the abuse is then believed to be a form of punishment for victim who is not being good enough, not succeeding at making the abuser happy and simply is given another chance to try harder next time.
Slowly but surely the victim will start apologizing for anything and everything the abuser is not happy about and become afraid of the abusive partner.
Afraid to stand up for yourself, to say anything back to the abuser and finally – the hardest thing to do at the moment is leave.
So how to find enough strength in yourself to just get up and leave?
What if you are under circumstances where you are financially dependent on the abuser and have nowhere to go? What if you have children with your offender? Can you still escape the relationship and start a new life?
In my case, I moved to another city where my ex-partner lived so I didn’t know anyone around me, my friends were far away, I lost my job and my maternity leave payment stopped leaving me with no money or savings and on top of it – I had a new-born baby in my arms.
At one point, I thought that there was no way I could manage to leave and I didn’t know or have where to go. I felt completely hopeless but I knew that I had to leave for my child’s sake.
It wasn’t an easy road but I did it. If I could do it – anyone can.
And here is how:
Understand why you need to leave it
It is very hard to leave when you don’t 100% understand why you should leave in the first place. In my case, I didn’t understand it either and only left because I was worried about my child’s safety. Only a year later after leaving the relationship I finally realized that it wasn’t good for me either.
Some relationships can be abusive even if the partner is not physically attacking you and let me tell you, the mental abuse hurts more but it’s harder to notice.
If you are not sure if your relationship is abusive and not good for you, ask yourself these questions:
Is your partner constantly bringing you down?
Is your partner controlling and restricting your life?
Is your partner negatively effecting your self-confidence?
Are you afraid of your partner?
Do you have to hide anything from your partner such as meeting up with your friends?
Is your partner being judgmental towards you?
Does your partner force you to do things you don’t like such as forcing sexual activities and other?
Finally, has your partner physically attacked you?
If more than ONE answer to the questions above is yes – you are more than likely to be in an emotionally or/and physically abusive relationship.
If you have children and even though you are not happy in your relationship but staying for children’s sake – take a look at this quote:
Once you understand that you are in fact in an abusive relationship and that you must leave, speak up. Don’t keep it to yourself and reach out to your family and friends. Stress caused by an abusive relationship is too difficult to handle on your own. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to tell your family and close people to you.
Reach out to social services in your area asking for an advice and looking for help. When I had my child I wasn’t on the social welfare and didn’t have any income and once I applied for a social payment I was refused as I was still living with my ex-partner.
Even though we were living together he wasn’t supporting me and even started starving me so I kept looking for help as I had to feed our child – read more about it here.
I looked online for domestic violence and abuse support organizations and started emailing every single one I could find online.
Cross Care replied to my email and asked me to come to their office where they asked me more about my situation, gave me an advice where to seek financial support and finally referred me to a place where I was given food. I am truly grateful for their help to this day.
If you are really stuck, I suggest you do the same. You will be surprised how much help you can receive if you ask for it.
Finally, ask your family or perhaps your friends if they could help you out with escaping the relationship. If you are unemployed and have no money or savings, ask people around you if you could stay at their place until you get back on your feet.
In my case, most of my friends have offered me a shelter and where extremely supportive.
Leave as soon as possible
It’s much easier to leave if you don’t have children with your abusive partner. Either way, leave as soon as possible first of all, for the sake of your children (the longer you stay in the relationship, the more it will affect them) and finally for your own sake (the longer you stay, the worse it will get).
If you don’t have children together I would advise to leave when your partner is not around, perhaps in work or away and run without looking back.
If you, like me, happen to have kids together then running away gets more complicated as you could be accused for kidnapping your children if you leave without giving him/her a notice.
If you feel like you can’t talk to your abuser about leaving on your own, ask your or his/her family to act as a mediator.
Have a family meeting together where you can inform the abuser about leaving, where are you moving to and when. This way the family will know what is going on and the abuser won’t have a chance to explain the situation from his point of view as if you just left him unnoticed.
Bear in mind that some families can be just abusive as the abuser itself and can get very nasty with you, in that case ask your friends for support instead.
Don’t listen to your abuser
Once your abuser will know that you are leaving – he/she will do and say ANYTHING to stop and get you back. Don’t confuse this with a sign of love. A loving person would never be abusive to you in the first place. Your decision to leave to the abuser is a sudden loss of control and power over you, a feeling of failure as a dominant and a trigger to all of his/her insecurities – read about them here.
The abuser will of a sudden tell you everything you want to hear and will make you feel as special as he/she did at the very start of the relationship simply to get you back into his/hers trap.
Avoid any contact with the abuser
If you don’t have children together or any relations such as mortgage together etc. my best advice is to block their phone number.
Most of the phones nowadays have a blocking function but if there isn’t one available of your phone – contact your mobile provider and they can do it for you.
If you have to keep in contact because of your children (as it happened in my case) set some ground rules to your abuser and yourself.
As mentioned above, the abuser will tell you anything to get you back. My best advice is to not take any phone calls, only contact through the text messages as hearing your abusers voice would be stressful as it is and the messages can be kept for the future references i.e. Court.
Do not reply to any messages not relevant to your children and do not get into heated conversations trying to explain your ex over and over again why you left.
Your abuser will try to provoke you to answer them by guilt tripping you, blaming everything on you and saying anything that would make your blood boil and want you to say something back to them.
But from my own experience, I can tell you – there is no point.
The abuser will never understand your reasons for leaving him/her as they don’t understand they are even abusive and most of them would never admit they are or were.
Don’t waste your time talking to the abuser except it’s about the children regarding visiting times and general information such as health, education and holidays.
Still, if you struggle to keep a normal contact with your abuser, I would suggest trying mediation which is usually free.
See more information for mediation services in Ireland here – Family Mediation Services in Ireland.
If the mediation services don’t solve any communication issues the next step is going to Court in regards to child’s maintenance, access and a restraining order if needed.
Remind yourself every day that you are worth better
Receiving loving and caring messages after leaving your abuser will make you start thinking that the person can change, that they have learned their lesson and a sudden living on your own will kill you with loneliness but keep reminding yourself while you left in the first place and if you want to go back to the same life.
I have given my abuser a thousand of second chances and went back to him twice after leaving but it only got worse each time.
A person can never change unless they understand what and why they need to change and do it for themselves. An abuser will never give in his power and stop the abuse towards you just because he says so or because you ask for it.
Look after yourself
After leaving the abusive relationship the most important step is to look after yourself. Attend support groups or counselling sessions where you can recover after your toxic relationship and slowly gain your self-confidence back.
Even though it takes time to get back on your feet, mentally and physically, you will get there. Accept any help and ask for help when you are struggling.
If you are struggling financially (if you are unemployed), take up little job such as babysitting – that’s what I did for some time before going back to education and also find all the information about the social welfare support in your country.
If you are struggling mentally – don’t wait and seek help. See my full Blog post about seeking help here.
Finally, don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself and be happy again.
“Overcoming abuse doesn’t just happen, It takes positive steps everyday. Let today be the day you start to move forward.” ― Assunta Harris
“Poisonous relationships can alter our perception. You can spend many years thinking you’re worthless… but you’re not worthless, you’re unappreciated.” – Steve Maraboli
“Controllers, abusers and manipulative people don’t question themselves. They don’t ask themselves if the problem is them. They always say the problem is someone else.”