Develop an Exit Strategy to Escape Verbal Abuse
When you're in a verbally abusive relationship, you need an exit strategy and a safety plan. You need them so you don't have to listen to your abuser's hateful words. Verbal abusers want you to be a man or have the guts to hear the truth. The abuser expects you to stand there and take the abuse because without you, the abuser cannot regain control of him or herself. When an abuser looks at you, he or she sees a target, not a person. The abuser sees something to throw garbage at until he feels less threatened - like a monkey throwing poop.
Your abuser sees you as a threat. Your abuser flings poop at you like a scared monkey because you threaten his version of reality. He wants you to stand there until he brings you down to size and you no longer threaten him. Tell me, if someone were actually throwing feces at you, would you stand there to catch it or would you get out of range?
In "Help for Verbal Abuse", we discussed telling others about your verbally abusive relationship. In "Learn About Verbal Abuse" we discussed filling your mind with truth about the abusive relationship. In "Self-Reliance", we discussed the need to set personal boundaries to protect yourself from abuse. If you've employed those three strategies, then you're in a very good place so far as taking the next step to stop verbal abuse and get out of your verbally abusive relationship: develop an exit strategy and safety plan.
Your Exit Strategy for Verbally Abusive Relationships
An Exit Strategy is similar to a safety plan; both of them help you to stay safe. The difference is that an Exit Strategy comes into play at the very first sign of verbally abusive behavior and its goal is to move to an emotionally safe place now. Returning to the abuser later is an option.
When in a verbally abusive relationship, the benefit of an Exit Strategy is that you do not have to stand there and listen to one single abusive statement. When you sense the beginning of an abusive attack, you leave the presence of the abuser. He doesn't have to say anything for you to employ your strategy. He could be slamming cupboards or looking at you in that certain way. You know your abuser best, so you know what behaviors predict his abusive outbreaks. Watch for those behaviors, and leave his presence before he has a chance to say one bit of nonsense.
Leaving the presence of your abuser ranges from calling a friend or listening to music on headphones to leaving the house to run an errand (the errand can last as long as you need it to last).
Verbally Abusive Relationships Exit Strategy: Plan B
Your strategy must take into account a plan B - sometimes, leaving his presence to visit another lovely room in your home isn't enough. He may begin the verbal assault because you chose not to stand there and experience the emotional build-up with him. You may have to take off your headphones (or whatever your first plan was) and leave the house.
When you employ your strategy, it is up to you whether you tell him what you're doing or not. Sometimes it feels good for us targets to say, "Hey! I'm going to listen to music because I feel anxious when you start pacing around like that." But sometimes, telling your abuser that you're leaving him in his time of need (to fling poop) only fuels his desire to abuse you and guarantees a quick onslaught of abusive statements. If you do tell him and he responds with a smart-aleck comment, ignore it and go do what you said you would do (he's trying to provoke you).
Plan to Leave the House Often
When you live with an abuser in a verbally abusive relationship, you will have to leave your house more often than you want to believe. This isn't fair. You aren't the one acting like an idiot, so why should you have to leave?
The answer is simple: Because you are not an idiot. You wouldn't expect a poop-flinging monkey to suddenly realize "Hey - this isn't very mature of me!" and you can't expect your abuser to realize it either. You are the smart one, you are the one who needs the protection of space, so you are the one who must leave.
You're Going to Need a Little Cash
Because you will be leaving often, it is a great idea to have $10 or $20 bucks stashed into the lining of your purse. That way, while you're out running your errand, you can actually pick up that milk or even sit at Starbucks and drink a mocha.
Safety Plans recommend relatively large amounts of funds set aside in case you have to leave the relationship permanently. An Exit Strategy is not that kind of plan - the goal for this strategy is to get away temporarily in hope that when you return home, he has managed to redirect his frustration.
Warning Regarding an Exit Strategy for Verbally Abusive Relationships
I would be wrong not to tell you that this here Exit Strategy for verbally abusive relationships could lead to the need for a Safety Plan. As time passes and you begin to realize just how often you are required to excuse yourself from your abuser's presence, you may begin to think about exactly how much good there is to be had in the relationship. You may start to doubt your decision to stay with a person who pushes you away, pushes you out of your own home and your emotional safety zone so darn often.
You may find that upon returning home, your abuser has not redirected his anger/emotions, and has instead patiently waited for his target to return. If this happens, you'll have to enact back-to-back Exit Strategies involving your children, your friends' homes, and overnights.
For now, write down your Exit Strategy to include many different options for escape. But promise yourself that the first night you find yourself sleeping on a friend's couch because you've had to leave home three different times that day, you will create a safety plan.
But first, focus on taking the bright red and white target off your chest and develop your Exit Strategy.
How Do I Stop the Verbal Abuse? (Part 1)
Help for Verbal Abuse: You Have To Reach Out For It (Part 2)
Learn About Verbal Abuse So You Can Stop It (Part 3)
Set Personal Boundaries To Increase Self-Reliance (Part 4)
Develop An Exit Strategy And Safety Plan (Part 5)
The Signs of Verbal Abuse (Part 6)
*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.
Holly, K. (2011, May 5). Develop an Exit Strategy to Escape Verbal Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, May 22 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2011/05/develop-an-exit-strategy-how-to-stop-verbal-abuse-part-5
Author: Kellie Jo Holly
Is there any way to stop the manipulation? The gas lighting is the worst, happy one hour, I'm a ignorant a%% the next. I feel like I'm crazy and I used to be able to defend myself, but, now I have zero drive or ambition to even try.
<a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">Hotline Numbers</a>
<a href="http://www.womenagainstabuse.org/services/legal-center" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">Women Against Abuse Legal Center</a>
<a href="https://www.healthyplace.com/abuse/domestic-violence/domestic-violence-domestic-abuse-counseling/" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">Domestic Abuse Counseling</a>
We are not set up to help anyone directly. However, we have compiled many resources and hotlines. Please see here: https://www.healthyplace.com/other-info/resources/mental-health-hotline-numbers-and-referral-resources/
Reach out to one of those places for help.
- Natasha Tracy
This is a trick. Don't let it work.
There is a reason you think he would hurt the children if you left them behind; I would honor that reason and be true to yourself. It's time to consider why leaving the children with him is so detrimental. Don't be afraid of your fear. What would he do/say if you left the kids? What reasons do you have to feel afraid for the kids? Write it all down because one day, you may need those specifics for a restraining order. I wish you would leave now, but I understand the process. I understand you want to exhaust all options before leaving.
At the least, it's time to consider another strategy. The boundary you set is a good one. If he badgers you all over the house, you've got to do something to save your mental health and self-respect. Getting the kids ready to leave takes time; so make it so you don't have to get them ready. You could put a second diaper bag in the car, extra food/snacks that don't go bad in the heat, a toy or two. Wipes. Make it so you don't have to grab anything but your babies to get out of the house.
If you're afraid he'll find and confiscate the second diaper bag, then let someone in on your situation (if you haven't already). Ask a friend to keep the diaper bag and supplies at her house so you can go get it when you must leave like that. Get creative. Get out of the house as fast as you can even if that means asking a mere acquaintance for help. Consider calling someone as he's abusing you. That used to shut my ex up while I got my thoughts together. They don't want anyone else to hear them behaving that way.
We know that "his" therapist is snowed. What about your therapist? What does s/he say about it? If you don't have one yet, get one. You need the support and honesty.
" When in a verbally abusive relationship, the benefit of an Exit Strategy is that you do not have to stand there and listen to one single abusive statement. When you sense the beginning of an abusive attack, you leave the presence of the abuser. He doesn’t have to say anything for you to employ your strategy. He could be slamming cupboards or looking at you in that certain way. You know your abuser best, so you know what behaviors predict his abusive outbreaks. Watch for those behaviors, and leave his presence before he has a chance to say one bit of nonsense.
Leaving the presence of your abuser ranges from calling a friend or listening to music on headphones to leaving the house to run an errand (the errand can last as long as you need it to last)."
---but what if you are stuck in the house? or your abuser is also your carer/nurse? What if you have no friends or family?
I'm not sure how ill you are and I'm not certain how to help you. The best thing you can do when your abuser is going off on you is detach. Here's an audio that you could download to help: http://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/verbalabuseinrelationships/2011/02/detaching-from-verbal-abuse/
Here's our information on detachment: http://www.healthyplace.com/relationships/serendipity/detachment/ but you can find more, especially at al-anon or AA websites.
Nothing is impossible. I'm going to have to give your concern more thought. I'm sorry I don't have all the answers.
I have been married for 13 years and have 4 kids.
my wife verbally abuses me tot he extreme.
she curses my family, my mother my brother and me most of all.
she does not care if the kids are around. I cannot take it anymore.
I am only staying because of my children and I know she wants me to leave so that she can tell her family I walked out.
I am 39 and she is 32, she sais I am old and boring and make her miserable.
I am a good father and will rather let her go out and I will stay with my kids.
all I do is catch fish as a hobby, play soccer and work.
I also clean, cook and do the washing when I am off.
what does she do, get up go to work come home and go to the room.
I for the last 10 years, take kids to school, go to work, fetch them from school, so she has no worries at all.
lately she started drinking again, I mean after work on a Friday go to a pub with people I don't even know and come home after 10pm.
go's to friend I don't know, and when I say can I drop you?...she explodes.
I mean she gets dropped at home and when I come tot he door the person who dropped her is long gone.
when I ask who dropped you then the verbal abuse started.
I mean come on, If you drop a lady you will first wait for her to enter her home and then drive off?
I am so sad and she is breaking me down, if we argue and I leave the room, she will follow me and further curse me.
I have had it...the worst part, we just bought a home together and I am so regretting this.
i love to bits, but in the same breath dispise her.
I understand that leaving the children in her care (alone) is scary. However, there are things you can do to make it less scary for you and your children. Think about giving them secret cell phones, or help them make a safety plan for when mom passes out or goes ballistic. You can do this without disparaging the other parent (as court documents sometimes say) by making these types of safety plans for every home the children may visit, such as grandparents or neighbors.
Speaking of neighbors, if you trust them, let your children know you trust them AND inform the neighbors of what goes on at home. Ask them to be discreet, but to call the police if the girls come over when mom is drunk and crazy. 3rd party documentation of emotional abuse of your children could eventually give you full custody. COULD.
Keep praying. But pray for happiness and peace in your home (no matter whom you share your home with). I think moving out (or making her move out via court order) is the best thing to do.
You aren't playing the victim, you are the victim. Call the national domestic violence hotline and go to a good therapist who understands abuse if at all possible. Go to therapy alone and/or with your son. Leave your abuser out of it.
For instance, self-esteem problems do not produce the symptoms you list... depression does, yet simple depression is NOT what plagues people in abusive situations. That's PTSD, which can mimic other dx's, including depression.
Also, once one member of an relationship AFFECTED BY ABUSE (not "abusive relationship," which taints the entire thing rather than just the problem area) consistently says, "That's abusive, please rephrase it..." or "Please wait until you're not going to use physical intimidation to tell me about this," s/he is NOT complicit in the abuse, and therefore codependency or bad dynamic is no longer at issue.
What's at issue then is acquiring new communication skills (for both) AS WELL AS self-reliant-intimacy (for the usual aggressor) so that the usual-aggressor is not using the other as a whipping boy and the usual-whipping-boy is NOT taunting the other, even inadvertently. (Often it's the usual-whipping-boy's own interior strength that humiliates by implication the fractures in the usual-aggressor's sense of self... and the whole thing is triggered beneath the level of consciousness... but I digress.)
I have to mention here that also, I'd like to caution you about "gaining allies." If the relationship has enough good in it or good history or kids that immediately leaving is not an option... it's often NOT a good idea to tell friends, neighbors and family about the abuse. As soon as many (including the BULK of psychologists) hear the word "abuse," even verbal abuse, they blame the victim if she does not immediately leave the situation and furthermore, make huge and sweeping assumptions about her. (And... often... indeed almost always re-constellate the abuse as well.) This further isolates and damages the victim (usual-whipping-boy).
As much as I hate the medicalization of abuse and wish the case were totally different, as much as I wish that our culture supported (mostly) women better, it's best to rely upon only a couple of trusted professionals or seasoned Abuse Group members for counsel. Make no mistake, this is hard, this is unfair... but it is necessary. PTSD is almost a given with any kind of abuse... yet PTSD is a dysfunction of recovery and of social support... it is almost unheard-of in populations like Isreali veterans (1%) where social support is widespread for soldiers. Yet, here in the US, the last thing one needs while under the double whammy of abuse and PTSD (60+% of veterans here get PTSD) is more difficulty.
So... be CAREFUL. The last thing this site needs is for the... brother of the abuser to get wind of the victim "telling tales" and attack her, or falsely report her for child neglect. Or to have a victim take bad advice to look for allies... lose all her friends... and be berated by yet another narcissist for not putting herself first. Sometimes, protecting your own best interest INCLUDES not riling-up your abuser, aka enabling his egomaniacal crud while you form a plan and get him and/or just yourself/kids the help needed to regain your own power. But, it is worth including in your various advice moments, that the very act of looking for your own self-reliance again is often enough to trigger more abuse. This is sadly, a natural move for a narcissist... as recognizing that if someone's got an issue with you... it means that you're not perfect.
Even if it's a totally inadvertent triggering... it's important to remember that at least in the eyes of the usual-aggressor... there are "reasonable" or "normal" reactions to your undesired actions, words or even facial expressions. Anything... but especially subconcious reactions... can and will trigger BOTH of the members of a couple under certain circumstances... especially if they've riled each other up into PTSD. It happens. It's human. It's not desirable... but it exists... and it IS something that can be "fixed," if both people want to fix it and apply themselves whole-heartedly to steering the relationship away from abuse.
Abusers turn your weaknesses and strengths against you. Either you told him that you are "ashamed to fail" or you are very persistent and rarely fail. Either way, he's using your words against you. Because they are familiar words, your brain falls into his trap.
I'll bet he promised to love, honor and cherish you. When was the last time he showed any of those emotions consistently? He has ALREADY FAILED YOU.
Don't listen to his nonsense. Get out of there.
His potential isn't your responsibility. Perhaps if you left him he would be forced to rely on himself instead of sapping the life force out of you. Or he'll find another woman that he can drain of her potential.
My abusive husband was charming during the time we dated. However, on our honeymoon he shocked me and the abuse started. He used every method to abuse me that the professionals write about. The more trapped I was with moving, buying a home, the kids, the more abusive he was.
After 18 yrs I had had it. I found myself detached from the marriage, using some well developed defense mechanisms to simply interact with him. My world was caring for my children.
I finally broke the silence and told my friends and family about how I have lived. I needed to know that I was not crazy, or overreacting, etc. And all those things he told me I was. I got such support from my friends! I was able to get the courage to leave him. He refused to move out of the house. That would mean giving up his control, not allowing him to work on his issues like he should have been doing. That was a miserable time.
But, as the divorce proceeds, I am in my own place. It is so peaceful and I am finally in a better place.
The safety plan is key to a smooth transition. My advice, stash money. Little by little take extra money out using the debit card at the store every chance you get!
We tried counseling but it did not help. Actually, the counselor supported my decision in leaving him. The good thing is that we have children between us. So, I left even-though, I had no money, no job and I was planning on one year of schooling. You can't change an abuser, but you can walk away.
It has been a full year since I left and we are filing for divorce. I just finished school and did not get a job yet. I still don't have money and not sure how I will pay for my expenses. But I am happier and stronger than I was before.
Separation and divorce are hard, but it is harder to imagine myself living the same self loathing period that I lived through last year.
I gained back my self-respect. There is life after abuse. Trust me.
because he won't fix it. So trying to find work outside of our business is very
difficult. My credit is horrible because he has a f'em attitude towards
collectors.So my dream is to have an income that will support my two daughters and I so that we can leave. My spirit is gone. ..
Since you work together, perhaps there is a way you can squirrel some money aside. Or, if you have a plan in place for where you can go, instead of depositing a large check into a joint account, put it into your own account and fix your car or have a friend come get you and the kids. The problem with waiting for an income to support you and your daughters is that it sounds eerily similar to the thought "things will be so much better when he (quits drinking, understands creditors are important, feels bad about hurting us,....). The abuse thinking can wreak havoc with safety and plans to leave.
One way to begin getting clear is to download and use the safety plan here: http://verbalabusejournals.com/pdf/safety-plan-stay-or-go.pdf