When many people hear that someone is in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, their first question is, “Why don’t they leave?” If you’ve never been through an abusive relationship, this sort of response might seem logical. But here’s the thing – when it comes to relationship abuse, it’s never as easy as “just leaving.”The best way to protect yourself if you are in an abusive relationship is to create a safety plan. No matter how many times you’ve gone back, you can safely move forward and permanently leave an abusive relationship.
Many may consider abuse as only physical or verbal. But here is the thing, most of us do not realize that we are in an emotionally abusive relationship until it’s too late. There are certain red flags and types of abuse to look out for.
Your partner may be emotionally abusive if they: isolate you from friends and family. Constantly want to know where you are and what you’re doing. Assume control over your finances. Rarely take responsibility or admit fault. Manipulate or gaslight you. Exhibit intense feelings and behavior, like obsession and possessiveness. Engage in physical, emotional, or sexual violence.
Society normalizes unhealthy behavior so people may not understand that their relationship is abusive.When you think that unhealthy or abusive behaviors are normal, it’s hard to identify your relationship as abusive and therefore there’s no reason to seek help.
If you’ve ticked even one of the above, friend! You are in an abusive relationship. So how do you GET OUT?
Create a safety plan
Every relationship and every situation is unique, as is every breakup, so it’s important to create a plan to end the relationship safely. If you need help getting out of an abusive relationship, reach out to your local domestic violence hotline and make a safety plan with an advocate.
A safety plan can help you outline actionable steps to reduce risk of harm or danger during the breakup process. A safety plan may include: a person to contact for help or shelter, important items to bring when leaving, steps to protect children and pets and steps to increase safety at work, school, church, and stores
Build a safety network
To avoid going back to an abusive relationship, surround yourself with a support network of friends and loved ones who are in the loop on why you left.If you find yourself trapped in a relationship, there’s nothing wrong in taking help from family, friends, or even a counselor. Spend more time with people from whom you can get support.
Put your needs first
There’s no point in sacrificing your needs when the other person doesn’t acknowledge or appreciate you. Put your foot down and take care of yourself first. Try to focus your energies on your favorite hobbies, interests, or other physical activities you like. It can help you get a better insight into your problems. Remember that leaving an unhealthy relationship is not ‘quitting.’ Rather, it’s a positive decision of choosing a healthier life.
Remember why you left
Always remember why you left. Do not romanticize ‘What Ifs’. Forgive and move on. The bad always outweighs the good and everyone deserves a healthy, safe, empowering and joyful relationship. Write yourself a note about why you chose to leave the relationship and why you feel it’s important to not go back. Whenever you start to miss them, look back at it as a friendly reminder of why the relationship is unhealthy and reconnection isn’t the best (or safest) idea.
Work toward becoming independent
Especially if you used to rely on your partner for shelter and finances, finding a safe space to live and a job to jumpstart your path to independence. Establish financial independence, including your own source of income.This may improve your chances of staying away from your partner.
Regain your confidence
Build your confidence levels, believe in your worth, and your capability to reach your goals — personal or professional.Connect to your inner self.It’s never too late to reconnect to your original self. Be the person who you were before you were in this relationship. Be the ‘real’, ‘happier’, and ‘carefree’ you.