The stages of moving from Victim of Abuse to Hero of Your Abuse-Free Life includes transitory phases of Target and Survivor. Some people get stuck as a Target. How do you know when and how to move on?
The period of being a Target will end in one of two ways:
- you will leave the relationship (by choice or murder) or
- the abuser will acknowledge that he or she abuses and will change.
But there’s a third option. You could choose to live in the relationship while being a Target until the day either you or your abuser dies of natural causes. (This option is exhausting!)
The only ways to become a Survivor of abuse is to leave or for your abuser to stop abusing. Chances are that Targets will leave the relationship in order to survive. But you could choose to be a Target in hope that your abuser will change. The only deadline to being a Target is how long you can stand knowing, beyond a doubt, that the one you love abuses you.
The decision to leave comes when your pain of knowing outweighs your hope of change. If you find it necessary to leave, the decision will come at a time you find yourself capable of leaving.
Capable of leaving comes from inside of you. If you reach that decision, it won’t matter what the finances look like or how old the children are or even that you promised to love, honor and cherish forever.
If you determine it is time to go, you will go no matter what your circumstances are or what you fear they will become.
Maybe you’ll never have to leave. Maybe your abuser will change. But if s/he doesn’t, it is important to know that you will be able to go when you are ready.
*Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so do not take my pronoun choices as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized.