Leaving An Abusive Relationship
This post is about breaking up with someone who is being abusive. In a previous post, Am I Being Abused In My Love-Life, we learned that there are several types of relationship abuse: verbal, emotional, physical, sexual, and financial. If you decide to leave a relationship when one or more of these abuses are occurring, it’s important to know what to do to protect yourself.
Chances are you’ve thought about it for awhile. Most people who reach the point in a love relationship where they’ve decided to leave because of recurrent abuse, recognize that they have been allowing the abuse to occur for some time. They know it is time now to stop making excuses.
If you are living with your abuser, you have two options, ‘leaving’ and ‘putting him or her out.’ Of the two, leaving is always easier to do. Putting someone out usually involves the legal system and the ‘rights’ of a person living in your home.
If the abuse you are receiving is ‘dangerous,’ leaving is the best way to protect yourself. Otherwise, involving the authorities to stop the abuse and get your abuser out of the home is the only way to demonstrate your resolve to change your life while beginning to establish legal documents and police reports.
Once you’ve left your abuser or he or she has been forced to leave you, try not to be alone with him or her from that point forward. Being alone together will provide your abuser with a chance to manipulate you back into regular contact through seduction, guilt, persuasion, and/or intimidation.
Stand your ground if he or she tries to contact you when you are separate and alone. If he or she finds you in public, have an excuse prepared so you can leave quickly if you feel uncomfortable or scared. You don’t have to stop and talk if you don’t want to.
If you were just ‘dating’ your abuser and you want to break up with him or her but you’re scared of his or her reaction, consider doing it over the phone or when other people are around. You don’t have to be subjected to intimating or frightful interactions with your abuser. You can say ‘no’ and avoid seeing him or her.
Once you’ve separated from an abusive relationship, the objective is to stay away. Abusive treatment indicates, loud and clear, that your abuser is not ready or able to be in a loving relationship at this time. You’ll want to avoid a cycle of separating and returning when nothing has or will change for the better.
Setting up voicemail or having someone else take messages for you are ways of keeping your distance by phone. Sometimes victims of dating or domestic abuse get harassed by their abusers on regular phone calls allowing forms of abusive contact to continue.
Once you’ve separated and left the relationship you may want to change your routes to school or work. If you’ve left your home out of fear and a need to protect yourself, you should arrange a safe place to stay for a while where your abuser can’t contact you until such time as you have made a ‘plan of action’ to protect yourself. It’s important to involve the authorities when you are concerned for your personal safety.
Ultimately, you may want to talk to someone about what you can do legally to protect yourself from any more violence or mistreatment such as getting an Order of Protection. Remember, in a healthy love relationship you have the right to disagree and be different from the person you’re in a relationship with.
A healthy love relationship requires that each person has his or her own personal space and room to breathe in the relationship. Trying to ‘control’ somebody is a sign that this freedom is being violated.
You have the right to expect to be treated with respect and to be valued as a person. In a love relationship you should always feel safe and comfortable. If you’re not, something is wrong. Don’t ignore it.
Comments? Welcome. Dr. Tom Jordan
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