Getting Out Of An Abusive Relationship
Being involved in an abusive relationship is not a choice that anyone makes. When you meet someone and fall for them, chances are you can’t even imagine that this person will eventually hurt you mentally, emotionally or physically. For most people who find themselves in an abusive relationship, the signs are not always obvious. Sometimes the abuse starts to become obvious when you have already invested emotionally in the relationship, which is part of what makes getting out so hard. But no matter how much you love someone, if you are in a relationship with an abuser then being in that relationship will continue to be a danger to you.
I know getting out can be really hard, but at the end of the day, it could save your life.
The first step to getting out of a relationship is realising that it is dangerous for you. It often starts when your partner does little things to try and control you. Most abusive partners are also not trusting, very insecure, jealous, possessive and insulting. Abusive relationships usually start with emotional abuse and can then escalate to physical abuse. But remember, even if a partner is not physically or sexually abusive, there are other forms of abuse, like emotional abuse, verbal abuse and financial abuse that are just as crippling.
If you’re still having doubts about whether you’re in an abusive relationship or not, read this article Choma: Are you in an abusive relationship.
Realising it’s not your fault
This is really important Choma. When you’re in an abusive relationship you might find yourself blaming yourself for it, because your partner manipulates you into believing it’s your fault. Abuse is never your fault. There is nothing you could do or say that would make it okay for someone to hurt you in any way. It is not your responsibility to ‘fix’ them Choma.
If they are hurting you and breaking you down, then you’re making the right choice by deciding to leave.
Feeling guilty about the abuse can also make you feel shameful about opening up to others about it. There is nothing to be ashamed of. Many women find themselves in abusive relationships. The problem is that many women are also ashamed of opening up about the abuse and this means more abusers get away with it. You didn’t choose to be in a relationship with an abuser, you chose to be in a relationship with someone you thought you could trust but who turned out to be an abuser. This is not your fault.
Making notes of everything
Write down everything you can about the abusive episodes in secret when your abuser is not around. Take screenshots of any abusive messages they send you. If you’re being physically abused, take pictures of the marks on your body and go see a healthcare practitioner near you. The report from the healthcare practitioner will also be documentation. This evidence can help you when you need to file a report with the police or get a court order if necessary.
Even if you haven’t written anything down before, you don’t have to wait for your partner to abuse you again before you start. Write down what you remember from previous abusive episodes. You might already have messages as proof, so keep those too. Just remember to keep these notes and images out of your partners sight. If you’re afraid of your partner going through your stuff or your phone, send the messages, pictures and notes to someone you trust.
Making a plan
Abusers can be unpredictable and sometimes you can find yourself in a life-threatening situation. So make sure that you’re prepared before you leave. Know where you will go and who you will call, whether in an emergency or on the day you decide to leave for good. If you live with your partner, have all your important documents and items packed in a bag where your partner won’t see. If you can, set aside money to help you move out. Don’t let them know that you’re planning on leaving without making sure that you’re safe - especially if the person has a tendency to become violent. If you let them know you’re leaving you also give them a chance to influence you into staying.
Tell people close to you about the abuse and your decision to leave the relationship. It’s important that you have people around who will support you and protect you. An abusive person might try to manipulate others around you or try to make others think you’re ‘crazy’. Having the support of friends/family will be really important.
If you feel like you don’t have that kind of support, there are organisations that assist women in abusive situations. One of them is POWA (People Opposed to Women Abuse). They can help with counseling, legal support and possibly help with shelter. Give them a call Choma. They are trained to help women get out of abusive situations.
Contact number: 011 642 4345/6
Leaving and Moving on
You don’t owe your abusive partner a face-to-face break-up Choma. Sometimes we feel like we need to break up with people in person as a sign of respect. But when it comes to abusive relationships, it can be dangerous. You don’t know how your partner will react. The best thing to do is make sure you’re in a safe space and with people who can support you when you let your partner know you’ll be leaving him.
Cut ties with them completely. They may try to contact you to get you back but remember that this is part of the manipulation. They might tell you how much they love you and need you, how much you owe them and how much they are going to change - but keep in mind that this is the person who would constantly hurt you. They simply want you back under their control. If you go back to your abusive partner, the abuse might just get worse and they might try to punish you for leaving them. Once you’re out of the abusive relationship, stay out. Do what you can to keep them as far away from you as possible. Change your number, block them on social media and - if you have to - get a restraining order, which is a document from court to keep your abuser from threatening, harassing, or abusing you.
If the person is dangerous, don’t go anywhere alone. Try to have people around you at all times. If you have to, send your friends/family updates about where you are and who you’re with whenever you’re out of the house. Make sure you have all your emergency numbers stored in case you need help.
If you live with your partner and find that you can’t leave because they’re always around or because they might make it difficult for you to leave, call the police and ask them to escort you out.
You can contact SAPS on 10111
Abusive relationships are traumatising, so allow yourself time to heal. It is possible to move on and get back to living a better life. Don’t let the fear of starting over without your partner scare you. You can heal and you can move on. Don’t doubt your strength Choma.
Getting out of an abusive relationship can be hard, but it is the best thing you can do for yourself. Staying in the relationship is far more dangerous and can be life-threatening. You are worthy of love, respect and safety. Don’t stay in any relationship that lacks those things.
If you need advice or help, remember that you can contact me here on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Message, a Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657)
Did you find this article helpful? Yes No