All of us dream of having a happy relationship. But as we all know, it doesn’t happen all the time. We encounter fights and problems along the way. We either grow together or grow apart. In an ideal situation, even if it doesn’t work out the way you want it to be, the choice is still there. However, people in abusive relationships know how hard that can be.
“Why don’t you just leave?” is probably one of the most common questions we ask family or friends when they confide to us that they’re experiencing abuse. But ending a significant relationship is never easy. It’s even harder when you’ve been isolated from your family and friends, psychologically beaten down, financially controlled, and physically threatened.
The problem is leaving your abuser is hard. Leaving someone willing to hurt you is difficult and dangerous. You’re going to get your freedom from them and it’s bound to make them angry.
This is why it’s crucial to plan in advance how you can safely get out of an abusive relationship and be prepared for post-relationship life. Here are our suggested steps on how to get out of abusive relationships.
1Recognize you’re in an abusive relationship.
Stop making excuses for your partner. The first step is to recognize and realize that your relationship is unhealthy and you must get out of it. Notice the red flags. It’s common to wear rose-colored glasses when you’re in a relationship but don’t ignore the warning signs. Talk about your relationship with your family and friends. Ask them if they think you’re experiencing something abusive and listen to their inputs if there’s a toxic behavior from your partner.
Abuse comes in numerous forms. Your partner might not hit or physically hurt you, but they can still emotionally, psychologically, and financially abuse you.
Some may constantly gaslight you, while others try to put you down to make you feel worthless. Some abusers may encourage the victim to stop working (in disguise as a stay-at-home wife/partner), so they can’t say a word about the abuse since they rely on them financially. Meanwhile, some people blackmail their victims with private photos every time the victim tries to set boundaries.
We also understand that mistakes occur in the relationship. Your partner might have said or done something that hurt your feelings. If they genuinely apologize for the said action, you always have the option to forgive them and observe instead of breaking up immediately. However, if they’ve done the same thing again, you should reconsider ending the relationship.
2Connect with your support system.
If you’re being abused, it’s good to have your loved ones around you. Talk to them about your situation. If you’ve been cut off from them, chances are they’ve been waiting for you to come to them and ask for their help. Don’t hesitate to reach out. They will help you throughout the whole process. They will ensure that you never go back to that abusive relationship.
3Keep things lowkey.
Keep your decision to only a few people. If you’re planning to leave, try to get your preparations as quietly as possible. Don’t go around telling other people about your plans other than your support system. If you’re not careful enough, your partner might get a hold of your decision and get angry. This could lead to more abuse or worse, they might try to confine and seclude you from the outside world making sure you can’t leave.
4Keep your distance from the abuser, if possible.
If you’re trying to get out of the relationship, the best thing for you to do is gain back some confidence and power. What we mean by this is if you know that a particular situation can trigger abuse, stay away from it. For example, prevent doing the things that can trigger your partner to abuse you.
But try not to arouse suspicion as this can make your situation worse. Just keep your distance from your abusive partner so that your plan of leaving them goes without a hitch.
5Plan for a place to go.
When you leave, where will you go? It can be a friend’s house or your parent’s house. If you have money, have a new apartment ready in a town he doesn’t know about. The point here is to have a safe place where they can stay away from you.
6Gather all your important documents.
If you’re living together then you probably have all your documents in a shared place. We doubt that you can just walk in and politely ask for all of them. This will not only raise suspicion; your abusive partner will not be that willing to hand them over nicely. Make sure to gather all these forms and cards as quickly and quietly as possible. Get them out and ask a trusted friend to store them safely until you’re completely out of the relationship and away from them.
7Have someone with you when you actually leave.
This is not only for you to move your belongings easier but more so for your personal protection if they try to hurt you. Get a few different friends or family members to be with you just so your abusive partner will not have a chance to try and make your stay. Bring people with you so that you can also get everything out of there quickly. Get the police involved if you think it’s necessary and will make you feel safer.
8Constantly remind yourself why you’re leaving.
Leaving can be hard. Most especially if you’ve been in an abusive relationship for so long already. Maybe you’ll get lured back by their charm and their promises of change. Don’t listen to that voice saying you need to go back and try again. Remind yourself again and again about why you’re leaving, what they did to you, and who they are as a person. Remind yourself that you are your own priority. Put yourself above everything else. This can help you see clearly again.
9Cut them out of your life completely.
Now that you’ve managed to get out of the relationship, you must remove them from every aspect of your life. Consider filing charges and a restraining order. This way your abuser can’t go near you again. COMPLETELY get rid of them and everything about them. Get rid of all their stuff. Delete and block their number and on all social media.
Don’t let them have any way of contacting you. This makes it easier for you to get over them and to see that what they did to you is horrible. It doesn’t allow them to further the abuse.
10Spend time with your trusted family and friends.
Being in an abusive relationship creates scars in your psyche. The trauma and the memories of everything you’ve endured can stay with you even after you’ve escaped from your abusive partner. Once you’ve finally removed yourself from your abuser, spend time talking with your loved ones.
If you’ve been isolated from them, reconnect with these people that you’ve missed for a long time. If you don’t have many family or friends, then try making new friends. This can help you trust in people again and they can help you find your grounding.
11Attend support groups.
There are lots of men and women who survive abuse, and all of them need to talk. Finding a community of people with similar experiences can help you learn to process the negative emotions that you’re likely experiencing after ending an abusive relationship. Don’t try to do it alone. You can be surprised at how many people share the same experience and feel that you do. And you can all heal together with the help of each other.
You may struggle with complicated feelings, frightening memories, or a sense of constant danger that you just can’t kick. Or you may feel numb, disconnected, and unable to trust other people. A therapist can help you work through your feelings and thoughts.
Connecting with other people, counseling, therapy, and support groups for survivors of abuse can help you process what you’ve been through and learn how to rebuild yourself and build new, healthier relationships in the future.
13Avoid the rebound route.
After getting out of an abusive situation, you may be eager to jump into a new relationship and finally get the intimacy and support you’ve been missing. This may not be a good move.
You’re still healing. Try not to rush into a new relationship. Many victims of abuse want to rush into a new relationship to fill the void that is inside of them brought by their previous relationship. But you should not rush your recovery. Enjoy and take the time to know yourself first again. With enough time, you will heal and eventually find someone who loves you and respects you for who you are.
14Report your partner to the authorities.
Along with the steps to moving on, you should also take time to make your abuser accountable for their actions. By holding them accountable, you’re not just helping other people prevent this vile individual, but you’re also helping yourself getting that inner peace. Now, for this step, we suggest going to a legal counsel and seek all the information that you need. You can check these files as your guide: The Anti-Rape Law of 1997 and the Anti-Sexual Harassment Act of 1995.
15Reach out to your local domestic abuse helplines and resources.
Aside from talking to friends and family, we recommend consulting government and non-government organizations that help people going through abuse. These institutions usually have resources to help you with legal issues, medical expenses, counseling, and other needs. Below are some of the helplines that you could contact:
- Barangay VAW Desk | Please visit or contact your area’s designated barangay hall for further assistance.
- The Inter-Agency Council on Violence Against Women and their Children (IACVAWC) | Click to see their hotline numbers.
- Sagip Babae Foundation | Click here to access their Facebook Page.
- Lunas Collective | Click here to access their Facebook Page.
My Friend or Family is a Survivor. What Can I Do to Help?
If you’re having difficulty talking to an abuse survivor, we understand that you don’t want to trigger them or do something offensive. Respect their wishes if they still don’t want to talk to anybody. However, if they haven’t explicitly stated that they want space, we recommend trying to reach out. A simple “I believe you, and I’m here whenever you need support.” message can lift someone’s spirit.
You can also provide resources for them, such as legal assistance or contact a domestic abuse support group. Also, never ever gossip about a person’s abusive experience. The last thing a survivor wants to deal with is other people talking about their trauma.
Aside from giving encouraging words, constant communication, and providing resources, another way of showing support is by being patient with them. Some survivors may do questionable actions that you don’t agree with. Instead of trying to think that your friend or family “has gone crazy” or forcing them to “get their shit together,” it’s best to think about why they’re going through that. You can also refer them to a professional that could help them go through the healing process.
Sometimes, the decision doesn’t come easy. Sometimes, you still feel confused, uncertain, or frightened at the thought. Maybe you’re still holding on to the hope that your situation will get better and that your partner will stop hurting you. You may even blame yourself or feel weak because you’re embarrassed to admit that you can’t leave your abuser. So, one moment you may be desperate to leave, and the next, you may want to hang on and stay positive about the whole thing.
But please, you know it’s been too much already. There’s no reason for you to stay in abusive relationships. Don’t be trapped by confusion, guilt, or self-blame. The only thing that matters is you and your safety. You deserve to be treated with respect. You don’t deserve the horrible things that this person is inflicting on your body and mind. Also, you’re not alone in this, people are willing to help you get through this. Always choose to have a safe and happy life.