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Leaving An Abusive Relationship

Kellie Jo Holly believes leaving her abusive relationship was the best thing she ever did for herself and her children. This episode of HealthyPlace Radio delves into the abuse she experienced during her 18 year marriage, some of the reasons she stayed, and the incentive behind her escape.

Soon after Kellie left her relationship, HealthyPlace contacted her to request she write the blog Verbal Abuse In Relationships here on the site. Kellie shares with readers the types of issues domestic abuse causes (i.e. depression) and hopes to create an understanding of the abusive dynamics in both the abuser and his or her target for abuse.

Kellie puts to use her hard-won knowledge about abuse and openly shares her experience of healing from domestic violence every week in her HealthyPlace blog. She believes in only by knowing the enemy called abuse can you hope to save yourself from accepting abuse or inflicting it. She also maintains a personal blog called “My Verbally Abusive Marriage” on her website, Verbal Abuse Journals. In the archives, you’ll find her account of the domestic abuse in her old relationship.

We hope you enjoy this interview about leaving an abusive relationship.

Share Your Experiences with Abusive Relationships

Are you struggling under the weight of an abusive relationship? Have you escaped from your abuser? How’s it going for you? We invite you to call us at 1-888-883-8045 and share your experiences and insights. (Info on Sharing Your Mental Health Experiences here.) You can also leave comments below.

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23 Responses to Leaving An Abusive Relationship

  1. kal123 says:

    I was married to a raging narcisist for years and do I know abuse! All of his hellish insanity heaped upon me by the truckload on a daily basis. All the while going through the severe symptoms of, what I was to later find out was, Schizoeffective Disorder, in addition to having an extremely painful bladder malady called Interstitial Cystist, all the while still maintaining very stressful and demanding employment, and being 3000 miles from a supportive family and friends network. In the literature I am referred to as his victim, but I beg to differ! I am a true and strong survivor, my friends! Only the strong can survive all that and make it out alive! I was finally able to leave, and although it has been an experience I hope to never see again that of the verge of homelessness three times, five moves in seven months, no vehicle, food from the food bank many times, without heat and electricity, having my disability check gone entirely the day I received it to pay what I could, no phone many times, me and my little dog eating beans and rice and ramen noodles for weeks at a time and glad to have them, I am emerging from the deep, dark pit he threw me into better than ever and all the grandiose ideals he only dreams and talks about I’m making happen for me! And oh boy, how he wants me back! Not on your life, pal! After almost two years of marital purgatory, in the form of thankfully, a complete albeit not legal separation, I have an appointment in October with an attorney and sister I’m gonna wash that man right outta my hair for good! You can’t keep a good woman down forever…I’ll be so very happy when I can finally stop having to waste too much of my good time dealing with him…even if that good time is just to clean the dog’s anal glands…lol!!! If you’re in an abusive relationship…get out!!! Yes, it’s hard for awhile, but it’s a hell of a lot better than the alternative. I’m 52 years old but I feel like 35. And it’s all good now and getting better every day!!

  2. kolawole77 says:

    what is abusive sex means???

  3. kolawole77 says:

    what are good results in relationship abusive???

  4. cloudburst says:

    I have decided to post HealthyPlace on my Facebook page. This is the biggest step I have taken in making it public. However, I still am not comfortable pasting on Facebook. I was married to an extremely verbally abusive man for 15 years. I also knew if I stood up to him, he would have physically abused me. It took me 15 years to realize verbal abuse is also abuse. I am hypomanic bipolar and was bullied most of my life. Mental illness was never spoken of in my household growing up. I discovered later on that we had a history of bipolar and manic depression in my family for years. I have turned 50 and have found it impossible to form new friendships other than my new husband. At this time in my life, I find it impossible to make trusting friends in the world other than the Internet.

  5. Jenny says:

    I know getting out of the verbally abusive marriage is the best thing you can do but how if you love him a lot and you feel like you aren’t strong enough to leave

  6. Joanie says:

    What do you do when you’re with someone for 17 years and you have grown up around abuse all your life and someone you love emotionally assaults you every day and says and does the meanest things? What do you do when you’re the one apologizing and you finally doubt yourself? I’m now scared of everything – feeling unworthy like I did something to make this behavior okay but trying to be strong and raise children. They have seen me endure emotional and mental beatdowns to an extent it feels normal to them.

    What do you do when you have no means of escaping – no money, self-esteem, or enough confidence to make it. Like I’ve said I’m walking on eggshells never knowing what I may cause him to do or say feeling and guilty not knowing why. I feel drained like no energy to even feel anything. I know enough that this is killing me but don’t know what to do about it. To say I love him I do, but its a totally different kind. I just want to like me.

  7. ij says:

    Where do I start from. Most times I blame myself for ignoring the signs even while we were dating , subtle as they seemed then. I had made some mistakes with my finances which not only made me lose my job but became dependent on him, something that had not happened to me in decades. I am 35 but I feel 65. I ve been going through daily verbal abuse that had turned physical. I am African and most times, all you get in support is that it is your duty as a woman to make a marriage work. The man need not participate just ensure that you do all the emotional work. I had his back when his ass was down and out but now the tables are turned, all I m getting is abuse of various kinds

  8. Vicky says:

    Thank you for this site. I’ve been involved with an abuser for over a decade. Survived his affairs his silent treatments his raging explosions and his on going name calling and verbal terrorizing and his blame that he is perfect and its all due to me needing to communicate have and equal and honest relationship. I gre up being neglected and abused. I thought I was done. He was so charming. Until he was not. I love him and I am very happy to have found this site. It gives me hope. With no money hardly any friends he made sure to treat them all badly and he refuses for me to meet any of his friends, I am alone. I have been going through cancer alone he disappears whenever I have surgery or am in the hospital or come home. He is only around when he wants something needs a friend or when I’m healing. He then just restarts. He’s nice at first apologizes and if you ask why or try to put boundaries down not to bring that behaviour near you he explodes and silences you for weeks. On repeat. I am worn down. I am a very loving and honest person and I really thought I was the one doing wrong. He drilled that in every way he could. I just wanted to be loved but some people can’t love. They just lie. Thank you for this site and I look forward to reading everything on here. It gives me hope that I might have a chance at getting through this.

  9. Junior High says:

    Sorry to read about your struggles.

  10. parkst says:

    Jenny, No one can tell you what to do. If you listen to your most inner feelings and understand thatif someone is causing you pain and they know it, and continue doing so, even if you love them, they dont love you back. People who love you want to make you happy not sad. Would you treat someone like he is treating you? Would you let someone treat your mother this way? THis is not love, at all.

  11. egavinlarsen says:

    You’ll KNOW when it’s gotten too bad to stay, and when you really, truly GET that, get help! Anywhere, anyhow… Don’t let the lack of money stop you, either. Find a public legal service (they are out there). For me, once I became CLEAR about the marriage (and abuse) being OVER, I knew that I would do whatever it took, take however long it took, to break free. It wasn’t easy, but absolutely necessary for survival. If you have children (I have one), it’s critical to get out! Raising a child in such a toxic environment is NOT AN OPTION! I know I sound preachy, and I know the process is so very painful, but the alternative is just too damaging. It has taken me 7 very long and painful years to extricate myself, and because of the level of narcissism (of my ex and, more significantly, his father), I continue to be harassed… But, somehow the days and months and years pass, and I’ve gotten stronger. It’s difficult to overcome the memories and pain of ongoing abuse, but it IS possible! I pray for every individual in an abusive relationship…that they don’t lose themselves completely to their abusers. One day at a time…

  12. buffy36 says:

    I have a happy ending to share regarding my abusive relationship. My 15yr marriage was abusive on both parts for many years. I had a mental health problem which stemmed from an abusive childhood namely bpd. My husband also had some issues surrounding the loss of his parents. Sadly and admittedly I lost a child to adoption because my own illness was very severe. I flew into uncontrolled anger which I could not control because I didn’t know how to control it, I suffered ptsd due to previous violent relationships and friendships of which I was a victim with 2 children and no real help. I had severely depressive moods and I was a regular self harmer, I also had distorted thinking and delusions brought on by ‘false’ beliefs about myself ingrained by abusive family and partners.

    One thing I learned after therapy was that my husband was becoming abusive towards me because he could not cope with my abuse. I was intolerable and I could not understand myself or others.

    Happily, I am in remission and living my life. I have taught myself to show caring and affection towards my husband through mindfulness and accepting myself. I learned not to live with self blame because I did not ask to be ill, but my illness was brought on by ‘learned behaviour’ through the violent ways I was taught. I have become a calm, caring person who is in control of her life.

    My husband on the other hand, has gained trust in me and has gone back to work, which I am coping well with now. He understands me when I talk, listens and no longer launches into a tirade of verbal abuse when talking to me. He too has learned to control his anger.

    We have learned the art of effective communication and to negotiate and respect boundaries, which are sometimes uncomfortable but worth it if you learn to trust. He used to blame me for everything, but now he can see things from both angles and admit when he is wrong, even if he doesn’t want to.

    I have learned a lot from this, especially the impact on children. My own children were scared of me and until I did therapy, I could not understand why. Now, when we both see them we are gentle, caring and approachable. They too have noticed the change between us in a positive way. BPD is not easy to live with for either party in a relationship. It is very stressful to deal with and if right help is not sought, it can hurt your children without you realizing it, not just your marriage.

    I am doing courses now in mental health and child protection because I am on a mission to help children and families with this condition. Like I said we lost a son, but I can understand why that had to happen.

    My marriage has survived. This year has been particularly good. I believe in a situation like this, it can be turned around, but it takes a willingness to work with each other, admit mistakes and a lot of strength to make that happen after you have been through what we have.

  13. Melanie says:

    I have been married for 6 years and a partner of this man now 8 years.I look over the years over and over in my mind and to be honest he has been terrible from the very beginning.I do not understand how I continued to stay,being a christian you are told to pray and stay.I find myself wondering how to get out or so angry til I want to hurt him because he does not care how I feel.The days are getting longer I have left at least 5 times and come back.My self esteem is to the floor over hearing I am a fat B**** to look at you dont nobody want you all out of shape and your health is bad.I know my sons need there father,but to be honest this is not a good man to follow.I know he has cheated and continues to disrespect how I feel about anything.I find myself forgiving him every year about something but mainly the issues involved women or the verbal abuse.I am not getting aggressive and I dont want to lose my life or my children. I need HELP NOW its getting unbearable.

  14. I guess the word “abusive” is a bit overused here.

  15. Jayme Beebe says:

    Reading year old posts…I certainly hope the above women were able to get help. I thought I had it real bad. Guess only good thing for me is realizing others had it worse and had children in the home. Such a shame for the kids. Well, to women; let’s be strong with what we are able to do!

  16. Susie says:

    @Joanie: Wow, I could’ve written your post around the same time (3/12/13) that you did and boy do I hope you’re in the same place I am now (or better!) I’ve been married 17 years, have grown up feeling unworthy, and have three boys who are the love of my life. Today, I’ve asked for divorce, feel stronger than I ever have, and …possibly the hardest part, wish I had done this at least 10 years ago. And so, Joanie, take the first baby step. Because I don’t know you but the fact that you were brave enough to post on this blog tells me that you can do this. I truly, firmly, and unilaterally believe that you can leave. You must. Divorce is not failure. It does not make a broken house. It fixes a broken house. You are a role model for your kids. Teach them what a caring and loving relationship is.

    Here are some things that helped me begin my journey:
    1) Read the books “Feel the Fear and do it anyway” by Susan Jeffers or “The Art of Imperfection” by Brenee Brown, or “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans.
    2) Listen to podcasts on self-care and power (Martha Beck, How She Really Does It, Wise Counsel,etc.)
    3) Open up and talk to other women about your experiences. You must, even though it will feel really hard. You are not alone.

  17. I was recently dating a wonderful person who was in an emotional and abusive marriage. She finally managed the courage to leave him. I wrote an article about our relationship, which sadly ended recently called, “A Kiss from a Rose.” The link is:
    http://www.thesarayiahpost.com/MyPosts/2014/05/a-kiss-from-a-rose.html

    xx

  18. Do you have any psychological tests to know if i am under post traumatic stress disorder.

  19. linda Gallo says:

    I endured a 25 year marriage & 5 kids, that included all forms of abuse that exist. He made feel special and put me on a pedestal, as he chipped away at my self esteem, my confidence and my dignity, day by day. It was a long slow death. He physically assaulted me on a few occasions over the course of the marriage, but he made sure that I was responsible. The first time he hit me it was so hard across the side of my face that I lost the backing to my earring. The biggest problem with abuse is how unaware you are when you’re living with it. When the marriage comes to end you can put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I know I did, and no longer feel any guilt at all. Abuse broke down my family and I believe that most marriages today end in Divorce because of ABUSE. It a choice made solely by the perpetrator and nothing else.

  20. Mary Lewis says:

    I’m in same position …
    Always blamed for his
    Behavior ,
    Has lied to my family ,
    And backstabbed me …
    Admit to it but not to all said …
    Still will not tell anyone ,
    He lied about me ,
    He’s rude , hateful ,
    And yells about most trivial things …
    Even this text …
    I sent to him yesterday before his anger
    Management class ……
    ……..Like with what you told Andrew be truthful to yourself….!!!
    And to others …
    If you have questions ask…
    Because I guarantee U 90 % of that class that you’re in …
    Are thinking the same thing, but don’t want to ask…
    Or haven’t thought of it !!!
    And would be thankful you did. !!!
    Nothing to be embarrassed about …
    because they’re all there for the same reason as u …
    Bro human and have different ways of dealing with stress ,
    Minor problems …
    Etc ..
    Exacerbate by the
    what if ?what could happen?
    in the future

    & Actually thinking it will happen…
    When it hasn’t arrived yet…
    Foreseen trouble and
    Calming the fire …
    Yes …
    but you have to realize you cannot control everything
    nobody can …
    ever!!!!
    And to worry about controlling others ,things,
    and situations…
    The total waste when you can have a happy rounded life…
    I know I’ve said all this before…
    And I have said following before…
    However it being very short-lived…(not trying to be mean ,just truthful)…

    I haven’t said this in this this past week..
    you been very sweet ,
    And I see effort …
    keep up the good work !!!!
    :)
    for this past week I’m very proud of you!!!
    Love you ,
    Love Your better half !!!
    :) lol

    His reply ….
    None …
    And I got screamed at …
    Because …
    I text him that …
    And he was about to enter class room
    !!!
    I can’t ever do say …
    Anything right …
    Will ask me ?
    And …
    Call me a liar !!!!
    (I’m totally truthful …
    Then explain …
    Again …
    And he …
    Doubts and says bullshit …

    So I started saying then …
    If u know the answer …
    ..
    Then don’t ask …
    And if I’m a liar …
    Don’t …
    Talk …
    …!!!


    Blames others ,
    Never himself ,never wrong , never made mistakes …
    And no faults …
    Holy crap !!!
    Must be a boring ,
    Miserable life …
    To …
    Be so …
    Awesomely perfect !!!

    And so miserable …
    To not tell the truth , admit to , take blame for own actions …

    But has plenty if time to …
    Be so ,,
    Backstabbing and hateful with me , family etc
    Controlling , humiliating , in public , home etc ..
    And now he’s saying to me
    and I quote ……
    I think u think that I’m cheating on u ????
    For past 8 months …
    My family has heard him say this numerous times …
    Times ..
    FYI …I have
    Never …
    Even implied , he was by any means ….
    So Wt ever living hell
    is going on with him …
    !!
    Help …..!!!!


    Looking for a job …
    As soon as I get one …
    .I’m gone …
    Need a room mate ???
    no joke …
    Lol…
    I’m
    In
    hot springs ,ar ..
    & if

    If can’t find cheap housing w/roommate …

    Hopefully …:)

    Then
    I’m going to a women’s shelter as last resort…
    Mary l

  21. vegas val says:

    First step – GET AWAY!! learn to love yourself. Tell yourself everyday “I LOVE ME” say it in your head everyday & watch the change. I lost my confidence being with my ex- until I started doing this after I had our daughter, which of course I was feeling low because of my weight. finally it took me 8 months of getting ready & talking myself into remembering I love my self & am worth more!!Then I left, baby in tow ! Best thing I ever did!

  22. Meg says:

    I dont know what to do to get out of my situation. Ive married a total jerk! We are living in my house near the house of my parents. He has no job so i have to challenge him by saying “not so good” words before. He did get a job, but never give me any money to help me in my expenses. I have mortgaged a car but he used it with no care. He hitted me once while im driving when he’s too drunk. He screamed and cursed me in public. He kicked me, shout at me, saying nasty words in front of our kid. He drive the car insanely fast that my son would cry out of too much fear. He even disrespectfully say bad words to my parents and relatives. Worst of all he accused me of infedelity and forcing me into sex. I asked him to leave but he doesnt want to leave. I dont know what else to do.

  23. Debra McClure says:

    I sympathize with women out there in abusive relationships. I was married to a man for 28 yrs. I felt like I was forced to leave when he brought another woman into my home. He wanted all 3 of us to live together and I didnt see eye to eye with that setup. This was after we had moved to a southern climate from the midwest. Now we went to church every week, before this happened. And we golfed almost every day, I was active in the yard we planted a garden, and I mowed grass with a pushmower and pruned bushes and stuff. fighting a constant routine with fire ants. I was in excellent physical shape til I broke my knee falling down in the kitchen while cloeaning. The neighbor suggested I be put in hospital for a little while so my husband did not have to take vcare of me,while I was recuperating.
    I id with the verbal abuse, and so forth. My problem was after I was forced to leave my abuser very abruptly, I realized after I moved to another state that I just didn’t stay there long enough to patch things up with him and I became homeless and was id-thefted and lived in a group home and then forced out on street as one of the giirls told a lie on me. I didnt know what resources was out there for me,I didnt even get my address book back.I went to the salvation armies and the homeless shelters. finally I became able to move back to Illinois and people that knew me in mental health got my id. in the midwest again. My worst mistake seemed to be me leaving my abuser/love of my life. I am now alienated from brother and sister in laws and my side of the family ostracized me for leaving my husband. I have no contact with the grandkids, that hurt bad. The worst thing for me was leaving him. We helped out in a ministry for awhile before this happened. We had abeautiful patio we had put in and had bought a spa -bath for ourselves sos we were slowly just getting things, and 2 of our grandsons put in a pond from Lowes in the back yard and poured goldfish in it and they made a stone waterfall and put a filter in it too. We had a fig tree, apple tree and a few hyacinth bushes. Evergreen fir trees in the yard. I cry and grieve all the time I miss him and am scared I may end up with a worst abuser, I am worried about that. I cant seem to get forgiveness enough from my 2 stepsons. I have no contact or very little with family. I have to hope for the best by the way I refused to sign a divorce document so I was forced into a position ,by him called abandenment. The staff forced me to sign that paper to get an income for me. No lawyer present or no staff membre to kindly explain my options. and He has passed away and I could not go to the funeral as there was no gas and my sister did not have a decent car to drive. So it is one raw open sore to me, the grieving.

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