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How to Leave an Abusive Relationship

How to leave an abusive relationship

Table of Contents

Figuring out how to leave an abusive relationship isn’t as simple as just packing up and walking out the door.

Even just recognizing that you are in an abusive situation can be a difficult step.

What’s obvious to other people may not be clear to you.

It’s not easy to end a relationship in general.

When you add abuse to that, there are safety factors, perhaps financial concerns, and you may be isolated from your loved ones.

Having a plan for how to leave can be good, as can learning more about the resources available to you. 

Am I In An Abusive Relationship?

Abuse can look many different ways; it doesn’t always fit the idea you have in your head.

There’s a misconception that if there’s no physical violence, then a relationship isn’t abusive.

That’s not true.

Physical abuse is a more evident sign, but certainly not the only one.

Aside from physical violence, other signs can include:

  • Verbal Abuse: A relationship where someone who constantly yells, criticizes, insults, blames, or shames is still toxic. This type of belittling will make you feel like less of a person, you may even start to believe all of this is true.
  • Emotional Abuse: The emotional component to a toxic relationship may involve gaslighting, embarrassing, controlling, lying, cheating, or isolating a partner. 

If you identify signs of abuse in your relationship, you might tell yourself that your partner does it because they lose control. However, this isn’t the case.

Unhealthy behavior and violence are a way to gain control, and someone who does these things to another person is trying to manipulate you and have power over you.

Some people want to feel like they’re in charge of their relationship, and they want you to do what they say without question, no matter what it is.

They will also try to embarrass and humiliate you, lowering your self-esteem. You could feel worthless, or they might tell you no one else will ever want you.

By isolating you, an abusive partner can make you more dependent on them. They may also make threats against you as well as your family or even your pets.

Offenders deny and blame to deflect from their abusive behaviors.

They might have a myriad of reasons as to why they’re manipulative or violent, ranging from problems in their childhood to having a bad day.

When To Leave

If you’re in a gray area where you’re not sure if you’re ready to leave a relationship, you have to think about your present situation versus what you ideally want your life to look like.

If you’re constantly fantasizing about everyday things, such as a supportive and secure relationship, then you should think about whether it’s time to leave.

Remember, your abusive situation is more than likely not going to change unless there is an effort being made.

The cycle of abuse can only be broken with professional help, and even then it might not work.

It’s important to recognize when you’re involved in a toxic cycle and when it’s time to leave. 

Even if you have a partner in counseling, there isn’t any promise that their behavior will change.

Tips for How to Leave an Abusive Relationship

When you’ve realized you’re ready, or even if you aren’t, but you’re going to leave anyway, the following are some tips to keep in mind for how to leave an abusive relationship:

  • Have a safety plan, even if you don’t live with the person. When you leave a toxic person, they’re likely to become enraged, and your safety plan needs to take this into account. If possible, it’s best to tell the person you’re leaving in a public place.
  • Be prepared not only for anger but also manipulation. Manipulation could come in the form of telling you no one else will want you, or the person might try to guilt you. They could even threaten to hurt themselves or commit suicide if you leave them, so prepare yourself just in case you come across these types of situations.
  • Let a friend or family member know that you are planning to end the relationship. Ask for support, and ask them to check in on you.
  • Call a domestic violence hotline. Not only can the hotline offer you emotional support, but it can also connect you with resources in your area.
  • If your partner physically hurts you, call 911 right away.
  • After you leave, you should have a safe place to go for at least a few days, if not longer.
  • Before you leave, try to memorize the phone numbers of close contacts if you have to leave without your phone.
  • Block the person from communicating with you on all platforms. You may have to speak again at some point if you share a home or children, for example, but immediately following the end of the relationship, cut off communication.
  • Before you leave, you should try to prepare emergency funds if you can. 

How to Heal

Even once you become independent, you’ll have a lot of work to do to heal.

It’s traumatic, and you can carry the emotional scars with you for years.

There are a lot of ways you can begin to heal, however.

  • Find comfort by participating in a support group for victims of domestic violence. You can share your story in a safe place with people who share similar experiences to your own.
  • You can contact a hotline where a trained specialist will be available to speak with you and point you in the direction of resources.
  • Therapy is also a beneficial way to heal. You can learn more about differentiating healthy relationships from toxic ones and start to rebuild your self-esteem and sense of worth. 

The Mental Health Center of San Diego can help you at any stage of your abusive cycle.

From relationship counseling to therapy for PTSD, hundreds of men and women have come to us for help.

Whether you’re looking for help fixing your relationship, or just help to recover from a bad one don’t hesitate.

Call our mental health hotline today at 858-465-7722.