On average, 24 people per minute are experiencing physical or emotional abuse, according to the National Domestic Violence Hotline. These are hallmarks of an abusive relationship. You may be asking yourself, “Why don’t people who are being abused just walk away?” The truth is, many victims of abuse don’t realize that they are experiencing abuse.
When people end a relationship, they try ending it on good terms. A person will both try to give and receive closure. However, abusive relationships are different. If you are in an abusive relationship, you do not owe an abuser closure or anything for that matter. Your main concern should be getting out safely. If someone is dominating every aspect of your life, such as who you communicate with or your finances, they are abusing you; you need to find a way out.
Recognizing Red Flags
There are signs of abusive relationships that are easily recognizable, but others that are thickly veiled and are meant to throw you off so that you won’t leave. A tactic that abusers use on victims is isolating them from their friends, family, or anyone else who the abuser perceives as a threat. The purpose of this is so that the abuser has a sense of full control over you. Abusers will also gaslight you and make you feel like you are doing tasks incorrectly. This is to make you think that the abuser is the one person you should be dependent on. Since abusers lack empathy, they hurt your feelings and then proceed to blame you, telling you that you’re just too sensitive. Lying is rampant among abusers, but then they will accuse you of lying even when you’re not. Calling you a liar is a tactic that abusers use to further mistreat you. It’s a never-ending, tiring cycle. The most confusing pattern that abusers display is their love bombing. After an episode of anger, abusers will overcompensate by buying you lavish gifts—only to go back to their terrifying ways shortly after. No one deserves to be subjected to this treatment.
Leaving the Relationship
It’s inherently difficult coming to terms with leaving any relationship, but it’s even more daunting trying to escape an abusive situation. Walking away from a relationship that is no longer serving you for the betterment of your life is one of the strongest acts you will take. Know that it is possible for you to leave, even if the abuser makes you feel like you have no options. As difficult as this is to process, you’ll have to come up with a safety plan. When your partner is having bouts of anger, go to a room that you have deemed safe. Avoid going to the kitchen because there are objects that can be used as a weapon. Go to a room that has windows. Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice, so make sure that your car has gas ahead of time. You can also coordinate for a friend to pick you up. Stash away your important documents at your friend’s house so that the abuser doesn’t destroy them. Try your best to memorize the most important contacts on your phone in case the abuser takes your phone. Remember that you are not a burden, and your loved ones will unconditionally help you.
Domestic Violence Shelters
Consider going to a domestic violence shelter. If you have children, you can take your children with you to the shelter. Shelters provide you with basic needs, such as food and toiletries. They can also help you get back on your feet by assisting you in finding a job, housing, and proving you with other resources. Be careful with who you give out your personal info to, and use a fake name if you must, particularly if you live in a small town. This will prevent the abuser from finding you.
Building a Healthy Relationship with Yourself
None of this is your fault, even if the abuser made you feel like you’re to blame. The abuser must sort out their own issues. Enlist the support of your friends, family, and a counselor. Do everything in your power to move forward, such as contacting the police. File a restraining order against the abuser. If it makes you feel better, consider relocating to somewhere new. Although you shouldn’t be the one who needs to move, sometimes it’s for the best and you will be able to start fresh.
Escaping an abusive situation is never easy, and it can feel nearly impossible if you’re married to an abuser. With the help of a loved one, you will be able to escape this toxic situation, regardless of marital status. You will reclaim your life and heal.