Leaving An Abusive Relationship: Why Can’t I Just Leave?

January 22, 2014 Kellie Jo Holly

Leaving an abusive relationship usually can't be done the moment you figure out your partner abuses you. Leaving abuse takes planning and time, if you have it.

So many people beat themselves up over the question "Why can't I just leave?" You want the easy answer? You aren't ready to leave yet.


  • haven't been convinced that the abuse warrants you leaving, or
  • you lack financial resources, or
  • you're in business with your abuser, or
  • the kids are too small, or
  • the kids are almost out of school, or
  • the abuser needs you, or
  • fill in your reason here.

Notice I said fill in your reason here. These are not excuses. The reasons you stay may sound like excuses to someone else, but don't let anyone belittle your decision to stay. I really want to end that sentence with "to stay for now" but truth is that you may never leave. You could be 70 years old and wondering how your spouse is managing to exceed life expectancy, them being so miserable and nasty and all (lots of people are doing this right now).

I want you to be okay with choosing to stay, because making decisions is empowering. Staying is a choice you can make.

Leaving An Abusive Relationship Is Important

Irresponsible Advice

It would be very irresponsible of me if I don't say a few things at this point.

  • I want you to end your abusive relationship. Life is too short and precious to spend it with a person who hurts you.
  • If your abuser physically assaults you, I hope you leave right now. Verbal abuse escalates to physical assault and assault escalates to death. Additionally, you may not be the only one to die -your abuser could murder you and then your children and anyone else on the scene.

Point is that choosing to stay with an abuser will have very serious emotional and/or physical consequences. It is only a matter of time.

Leaving An Abusive Relationship Is Not Your Only Option

Honoring a person's choice to stay in an abusive relationship is a relatively new concept to domestic violence social workers and other domestic abuse helpers. You might find helpers who support you no matter what you decide to do. On the other hand, you might find helpers who decide there's nothing they can do for you if you do not leave the abuser. That hurts, I know, but just because they're the experts doesn't mean they always know the right thing to do.

Additionally, many of your closest friends and family members may distance themselves from you if you choose to stay. Often we tell ourselves that they're tired of listening to us complain when we won't do anything to change it. Remember though, the ones who love you need to keep themselves sane, too. If they're in the battle with you, they may not be strong enough to pull you out if you change your mind and leave the relationship.

Don't take it personally if people don't support your decision to stay, and please don't beat yourself up because you feel you can't leave. Let's just roll with this for a while and see what we can do for our mental well-being when we choose to stay.

Key Concepts to Accept About Your Abusive Relationship

You cannot make your abuser happy, therefore you cannot make them mad, either. You do not have magic powers that control your abuser's words or actions and no combination of your words or behaviors will result in an end to the abuse.

Most everything you do and say will be "wrong", and if you are right today, you'll probably be wrong tomorrow. So you may as well do exactly as YOU please at all times. Make your own decisions, act on your hunches. It doesn't matter what you do, the abuse will continue.

You are in a relationship that thrives on your honest disclosures about yourself. However, unlike healthy intimate relationships, your significant other uses your deepest secrets against you. You cannot trust your abuser with your heart, so keep your mouth shut about it.

There will be moments of joy and pleasure in your abusive relationship. Go ahead and enjoy the sex, the compliment, the joke, etc. But leave the joy in the moment. Don't assume that because s/he smiled a minute ago that the smile will be there when you look again. Humans need joy in their life, so grab all you can.

You need a safety plan. Period. Abusers are unpredictable and you never know when you're going to have to get away from them. Thinking through a safety plan during moments of peace will help you to think more swiftly and clearly during moments of danger.

Keep people on the outside of your relationship close. Isolation is the abuser's best friend. When you're isolated from others, you lose the most valuable lifeline an abused person can have - ideas from people other than the abuser. You increase the effects of abuse by only hearing your abuser's opinions, so stay connected to the world outside your home.

Educate yourself about domestic violence and abuse. Search words and phrases like verbal and emotional abuse, side effects of abuse, gaslighting, crazy-making and brainwashing. Learning a little bit each day about how your partner manipulates and controls you lessens their ability to do it.

Concepts to Accept About Yourself

You are human; a delightfully imperfect person who can do the very best you know how to do in this instant. Every instant.

You are lovable.

You deserve respect.

You can choose one thing today and another thing tomorrow.

You are powerful.

You can learn, grow and adapt.

You do not have to accept or absorb lies, even if the lie has a grain of truth to it (see Detaching from Verbal Abuse Hypnosis MP3).

You hold God's hand, even when you cannot feel it, but sometimes you must do something differently so He can help you in another way.

You decide who stays in your life.

You decide when leaving an abusive relationship is right for you.

You can also find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

APA Reference
Holly, K. (2014, January 22). Leaving An Abusive Relationship: Why Can’t I Just Leave?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2019, August 20 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 28 2018 at 4:20 pm
Hi Susan,
Thank you for commenting here. I'm sorry to hear you're in this situation. Are you in a position to seek legal advice regarding your home and assets? It would be worth contacting a woman's refuge or domestic abuse charity in your area to get some practical help. Our <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">hotlines and resources page</a> has contact numbers for domestic abuse helplines that you might find helpful.

I know it feels overwhelming, but it starts with one small step toward reclaiming your life. That phone call to a helpline could be your first step. Good luck, and please come back here for support and information any time you need.
April, 26 2018 at 6:13 pm
He belittles me every day, I don't want sex so there for I'm accused of wanting sex with others. Nothing I do, ware, say is right. He has hit me in the past, he uses me financially, and makes me feel terrible. If I apply for jobs on my phone, I'm texting guys. He sneaks around the house trying to spy. He rummaged thru my personal belongings while I'm away or sleeping. I have to hide money, keys, and ciggereets, or he won't leave me anything.he cooks foods that I'm not supposed to eat. When I cook he won't eat. I thought I could trust him this time. He uses my hurt against me to make me hurt more.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 27 2018 at 12:59 am
Joy, I am so sorry to hear you are suffering the way you are, that is just awful. I hope you'll look into the other articles we have on the blog because there are several that would be very relevant to what you've been going through. Have considered seeking counseling or therapy to help you cope or even develop an exit plan? Therapy was instrumental for me in rebuilding my life and leaving unhealthy relationships in my past. I've attached a few articles for you to check out and I wish you all the best. Please continue reaching out to us here at Healthy Place. Thanks again, hang in there Joy. -Emily

<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Relationship Abuse is Sabotaging Your Life</a>

<a href="Reasons to Leave Abuse" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow"></a>

<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Verbal Abuse Coping Skills For When You Can't Just Leave</a>
April, 26 2018 at 8:59 am
I have decided to leave my wife and get out of the abuse after 4 years. She knows I am leaving and cries and apologizes but now is blaming me for not being perfect either and that we all make mistakes. Well, I never spit in her face, threw tantrums destroying property, verbally abused her, hit her, belittle her in front of family, cause financial strain, ask her to get her own place many times, threaten to call the police and make up things, make her retreat to the basement out of fear of another argument, or talk about being with other women. She did all of these things to me. I didn't show her I had respect for myself by staying even with the way she treated me so I am now showing her. She is now making every excuse for herself and actions and points it all back to me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 27 2018 at 1:06 am
Jonathan, I'm so sorry for everything you've been dealing with, that sounds pretty horrific indeed. Everything you mentioned is without a doubt abusive and it is not uncommon for abusers to react to being called out by pointing the finger back at you. If you think you need to leave and move on, I think you should trust yourself and try to find your happiness. Divorces are awful, but staying in an unhappy and unhealthy relationship for years of your life you'll never get back is terrible in of itself. I'm going to attach a few articles I think you may find helpful. Thanks! -Emily

<a href="Reasons to Leave Abuse" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow"></a>

<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Gaslighting, Emotional Abuse and Manipulation</a>
April, 27 2018 at 7:03 am
I am now finding it harder to leave and its ripping at my heart. See is now crying all the time telling me she will change and to give her one more chance and she also told me she wanted to kill herself. I'm so confused. I don't want to see harm come to her or see her in pain. Any advice? Sigh with heavy heart..

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 30 2018 at 5:56 am
Hey Jonathan, that is a normal reaction for her to have as she now realises you're going to leave her and that is the last thing she wants, imagine all her power over you just disappearing into thin air. It would be awful for her but probably great for you. I am no expert and merely somebody who's been in this type of relationship and my best advice is that you leave anyways and don't look back, I know you have already given her plenty of chances, however if you don't feel ready to leave maybe try giving her one last chance , write it down tell her clearly that if she does it again you're gone, but what's most important if you do this is that you actually leave the moment she messes up her chance. Good luck.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 30 2018 at 10:58 pm
Hey Jonathan. Reading your comment is exactly to every word I am going through at the moment. I know how you feel and making that decision to leave is the hardest thing to do. But for us to get ourselves back we need to make that step and move out. Eventually it will be a 100 more chances given and then its too late we will be so depressed or dead. Remember love is not all the most important thing is happiness. Look after yourself first and you be able to look after someone else. Take care
Lisa Young
April, 24 2018 at 5:31 am
So severely damaged to implement these concepts to accept about yourself. This has shaken me to the core. What should I do?
Emily Clarke
April, 20 2018 at 9:05 am
Apparently none of the blogs and articles can help me recover or to get out from an abusive relationship. What should I do?
April, 17 2018 at 9:26 am
My boyfriend is living in my house and the only way to get him out is to get a protective order or evict him. I think he is a good person by himself but not to me. I don't want him to go to jail just out. He doesn't see that he is abusive.
April, 16 2018 at 10:20 am
I am currently living in a household that I am afraid to leave. I go to work everyday, take care of my kids, pay all my own bills. You name I do it. My son's father and I have not been together in at least four years and refuses to leave my home. When I say I am plan on leaving he threatens me and tells me he's going to harm me if I try to leave. My children are afraid of him as well as I am. I am tryingto leave but fear keeps holding me back because I feel I won't be able to protect me and my children once we leave. I have talked to the people in my life that I trust and they all just want me to leave because thy can see the hurt this is causing me. I have went from a outgoing, easy going person to someone who hates life. I just don't know what to do at this point.
April, 15 2018 at 7:09 pm
I searched “how to leave an abusive relationship” &amp; I stumbled upon this. God will is all I can think. I’ve been with my boyfriend a little over 6 years and I’ve been through hell while trying to make it work. My daughter turned 12 and I through her a party. I decorated myself, cooked everything myself &amp; basically did everything while he hid in the bedroom because it was too much. I walked on pins and needles for almost 36 hours hoping and praying he wouldn’t start screaming and yelling about the noise and/or the mess. He didn’t (thank god!) until the very end when it was my daughter &amp;only 2 of the little girls here. He started yelling at me telling me there will never be anymore parties at our house ever again. I swear every bit of effort I put into my kids I get backlash from him. He’s called me every name under the sun &amp; has caused many nights where I cry myself to sleep unnoticed while he continues on, my family hates him as do most of my friends. He’s a mean man and has brainwashed me into thinking everything will be okay after seeing a couple tender moments from him. I’m young only 28 &amp; neither of my children are his so once the break is made it’s done. I’m scared to be a single mom. I make decent money but have no savings whatsoever &amp; we currently rent from his mother. I worry I won’t be able to get my children’s bedrooms out of this house nor my pictures &amp; memories. I’m scared &amp; I feel trapped. I’ve developed severe anxiety &amp; depression as has my daughter who has also developed a cutting problem. I have taken step one. Out of every check I’m depositing 100 dollars. I’m bulking up my savings &amp; im running. I have to keep this in mind because he’s good at making me feel like everything’s going to be okay. I’ve got to go while I still have a bit of hope left even though I feel it draining day by day &amp; im scared to be completely broke. I miss me. Light, happy me. Someone that isn’t held down by so much sadness &amp; fear.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Natalie evong
April, 25 2018 at 1:07 am
Hi. I get it. We dont need to get into a big conversation but i will tell u i get it.. For obvious reasons. And thr fact that u cried out for help like this is incredibly courageous. So be proud. I understand your feelings. Please believe in YOU.
April, 12 2018 at 10:10 pm
I’m stuck. I can relate to every story told. His family has told me he’s damaging me and I need to leave. We have 1 child together. And I have my oldest son. I feel like I can’t leave because I’m completely broke. And he keep breaking me. One minute he’s lovely dovely then bam he turns into Satan. He blames me for EVERYTHING!!! Then he’ll apologize before bed. Saying he’s sorry for being [moderated], that he’s just stressed. And he threatenes that if I leave, he’ll kill himself. I know that would be his choice and his own fault if he did. I’m just scared. I want things to work but I know he’ll never change. And worse yet he’s threatening violence. I don’t deserve this but I dunno how to leave. I’ve left once but he said he’d change. But of course that was all lies. I’m not worried about belongings just my boys happiness. Please how do you leave when you literally have no way to go. He has me states away from my family. I feel sooo trapped. He’s abusing emotionally and mentally. Manipulate and cruel.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 14 2018 at 3:50 pm
I was in a similar situation, isolated, drawn back in again and again, wanting to believe he would do the work to change because he loved me. That would never happen, and I escaped by going to a womens shelter. I urge you to carefully contact a shelter, in a way he can't monitor, and ask for help getting you and your boys to a safe place where you can breathe and think. You need space, he'll never give you that. You have the strength to take care of yourself, even if he tells you that you don't. You aren't alone, but will need to reach out for help on this. Take care, and I wish you well.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 15 2018 at 7:09 am
Hi Marie,

Thank you for sharing your story. I'm Emma-Marie, one of the author's of this blog. What you're describing is coercive control, which is illegal in the UK and carries a prison sentence of up to 5 years. Where do you live? Sadly no law exist in the U.S. as of yet, and it's not necessarily a route you'd want to go down, but I think it's helpful to know your struggles are valid and your pain is recognized.

Coercive control looks different in every relationship, but it is characterized mainly by threats of violence (including homicide or suicide), attempt to control the partner or family, and verbal abuse -- all of which you describe here.

I can't tell you to leave the relationship, but I think you're right for wanting to get out for the sake of you and your children. I think you should seek some legal advice and speak to your nearest domestic abuse shelter or charity. It's important to have a plan in place. And if the situation does turn violent, don't hesitate to call the police.

I know it feels like there's no way out at the moment, but a life free from abuse is worth fighting for. Good luck!
April, 10 2018 at 8:17 pm
I keep logs of what I call episode, I want to share the most recent one with you. I am ready to go but I can't leave my things behind. If I can find a 2 bedroom apt I amiss able to pay am out!
My recent log happened 2 days ago
I live in a house, a beautiful house with a big yard in a nice neighborhood. Everything in this house beside a few things belong to me. I work and pay all the utilities in this house + groceries. I clean,cook,laundry,decorate, and a few other things that are needed to be done in a house. I don't pay anything on the mortgage, it the only thing I don't contribute to. Life should be easier now, kids are all grown and on their own,so that responsibility it over. I should be able to enjoy the fruits of my labor..
But no, this is just what it is a house not a home, the man that I share this house with and life for 26 years, has never stopped being verbally abusive.
My kids all left the house earlier then many do and I believe it was for this same reason. But now am left behind, with the abuse. As a cost of this I have isolated myself from family and few friends because I don't have many, the put downs and insults are imbarasing.  I fear that he suddenly gos off on me, because of something I may do or say on front of people. I mean he does it but I don't know them because its usually in the street, I just walk ahead and avoid eye contact with anyone, I make it look that it's not with me. Oh so many times this happens, I get chills in my chest that go deep in even feel chills in my heart. Usually those episode are followed by in the car screams and insults put downs, threats of crashing, and so many more. In all this i try to defend myself and argue back but it only make him more angry and things worst. All I think about is getting to the house so I can lock myself in the room. And then is the silence, while I always get emotional because a thousand thought go through my head, he carries on normally. Like nothing.  I usually stay in the room for a couple of days, I go down and fix myself  something to eat when I can no longer hold the hunger, and he just sits there watching this programs on TV laughing, enjoying every minute of my misery,his doing, his accomplishments seeing me this way is his goal at that moment. I usually can hold the silence more then 4 days, and by this time I am all cried out, have convinced myself things would get better and I go and start a conversation. Everything it's always my fault he apologizes but explains that if I would not piss him off things would not happen, he tells me that I need to learn how to talk to him, that if things don't change we would have to go our own ways. But remember I have no savings all my money go's in this house, I don't have money to put down for any apartment. And I can't afford the 1200 rents. I have my dogs not all places accept pets, moving truck..I don't drive.. I can probably call someone to help but again I am a shame of people knowing what I go through... So what I do?
I put on a happy face, to the world of Facebook we are perfect, those that he associates with think he is the most proud and loving husband ,because he brags about how beautiful his wife is and how good she cooks and always keeps everything on point, perfect. Noone knows how he is behind closed doors beside our kids and a use to be good friend,but I keep away from her now as well. My outside look doesn't look nothing like my inside,  I use to convince myself that my kids needed me so I had to be strong for them and be here to defend and try to protect them from their fathers mouth. But they gone now, they live their own life's. Oh it's taking so so much of me to stay in this world, My grandson is what keeps me going,seeing his little face makes everything go away. But one day he is also going to grow and live his life. By then I am probably to old and broken, most likely still being abused and hoping death would give me peace.
The house is silent now, in max 4 days my happy face would be put back on....

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 11 2018 at 12:15 pm
Your post comforted me while I’m sitting in my room burping a 1 month old and being kicked by a sleeping toddler. I can relate to so many parts of what you’ve written except I’m not financially supported by my husband of 17 years. This makes me feel like an even bigger weakling for staying in the abusive, sometimes physical abusive relationship. I make excuses that he hasn’t punched me so it’s not really in the category. Pulling hair, kicking throwing things are not as bad right oh and I forgot the spitting.... Never in front of the kids I think or thank god they are too little to see... I could go on and on but today was a bad day and I’m exhausted. Not by the fact of having a newborn but the fact I love my husband and don’t want our marriage to end. How messed up is that. I have a very supportive and loving family and heaps of friends but they think he is lovely and we’ve always been the “ great couple” and I’ve always heard “ oh you’ve got one of the good ones”. In life I’m a strong, outgoing, funny, successfully driven woman and I’m so ashamed that I put up with it all. All I want is for the boy I fell in love with at 16 to change but I know this will never happen.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 11 2018 at 3:50 pm
Sandy I'm so sorry you're going through this. I'm early on in a relationship and deep down in my heart I know that what he does is wrong I get accused of so many false accusations. He's not ok. But why do I feel like I can help and fix him. I miss the man I met. I read a quote once that said " the truth was he needed me more than I needed him" I'll pray for good days for you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 11 2018 at 4:28 pm
Sandy, I'm so sorry you have been suffering. It can be so exhausting to try and keep everything in order when deep down you're feeling like it's all in disarray. Have you considered couples therapy or even/especially solo therapy for yourself? A good therapist or counseling can be a very worthwhile investment. I've even seen some apps lately that look like therapy apps, so you wouldn't have to go out if that would be a reason holding you back. There's usually therapy and counseling available through women's advocates that specialize in domestic abuse and abusive relationships. Have you considered trying to rent a room rather than an apartment while you get back on your feet? I suggest you reach out to the people close to you for love and support and seriously look into counseling for yourself. I'll also attach an article that may be helpful for you. <a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Verbal Abuse Coping Skills For When You Can't Just Leave</a>
Thanks again for reaching out Sandy, we're here for you anytime. -Emily

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 14 2018 at 2:24 pm
Sandy I relate to so much first of all I want to say thank you for being brave enough to share your story and my prayers for you all overcome this. my story is much the same 15 years of being with my husband since we were kids I have to kids 11 year old boy 8 year old little girl my daughter has epilepsy my son struggles with ADHD and a lot of the same angry behavior traits as his dad my family doesn't come around anymore I don't have any friends complete isolation I do the very best I can as a mom to protect my kids to focus on their happiness and to also protect them from their father's mouth my husband is an alcoholic and an extreme verbal abuser cuz and screams at me on a daily basis at any point in time plublic in my yard people it's so embarrassing and shameful I just looked down try to get away and then spend a lot of my time crying someone had even called the police at my house cuz of my husband screaming so loud and breaking things it doesn't take much a lost pair of glasses or a lamp being on in the morning while I'm trying to get ready to get the kids ready most mornings I wake up being screamed at it completely Rob's my fresh thoughts for the the day. He'll leave like normal go to work and he'll call me and say that he's sorry but hope to have a good evening and make plans plans that I never get to see never any undivided time he'll come home and the first thing I do to upset him he'll tell me I don't want to see you for the rest of the f****** day you have nothing I want to look at I can't tell you or Express the pain I hear things like that. I'll walk away and most of the time he will sit outside in his shed and get drunk. Then come eat dinner cuss me a little more and go to sleep. No matter the situation it's always my fault he would have never said those things if I didn't make him mad he doesn't mean to call me a loser but can help that most of the time I am one. he always has his reasons of why I deserve to be treated the way that I do. Not to mention how horrible he talks about me to our family his coworkers again it's just too much sometimes I've been doing a lot of praying and starting to realize finally after all this time I don't deserve this I want to be happy I want to wake up in the morning and open my eyes without being screamed at I don't want my kids to hear these things anymore. I want to be able to give my kids the best that they deserve a home that's peaceful a home where it's okay to make mistakes, you won't get condemned for spilling a glass of milk he won't get called stupid for accidentally leaving the light on. I've been trying to make the first step to get out starting with reading some of these articles and hearing other woman's testimony I just recently went back to school to get my GED I know that's not much to be proud of but for me it's a lot. I want to set the better example to my children, to show them to never give up and to push forward with everything in you my prayers to all of you going to these kind of things. May God be with you and give you comfort in those dark times and to know it is he is with you.
April, 10 2018 at 3:31 pm
John, thank you for sharing..I'm a woman, but completely relate..I'm sorry, no abuse doesn't discriminate..I don't think, never did, that it's a man thing...I don't hate men.. actually hate myself more for staying..good luck.. again..thx..
April, 4 2018 at 11:12 pm
Thank you for sharing this...
April, 3 2018 at 9:03 pm
I'm a guy who was in an abusive relationship for about 10 years. I left just yesterday. I'm already experiencing the anguish and sadness that comes from the loss of someone who I thought I would be with forever. Forever, that's a word we used in our relationship early on. We met online. Our first mistake was over-accentuating our positive attributes, and downplaying or not discussion our negative attributes. My girlfriend came from a family with terrible parents, and abusive drunk for a father and a mother that looked the other way when her older brothers abused her. She carried this trauma with her into adulthood and never got over it. It was carried into our relationship. She can be the kindest, most thoughtful person at moments, then turn on a dime and be verbally vicious whenever she was hurt. It didn't take much to hurt her -- the wrong comment made at the wrong time could set her off. Our relationship started out magical from my point of view, we did a lot of fun things together and I really enjoyed the good times. But the bad times were awful. She knew how much I valued the relationship and I believe she used that against me, threatening to end it whenever she got mad. She said she would crack my skull open once after a fight, and joked that if she were ever to kill me, it would be by food poisoning. I really don't know if I should have taken the last of her comments seriously, but taken in consideration with other red flags, maybe I should. She had no sense of boundaries, and kicked open my locked bedroom door on more than one occasion when I refused to come out to confront her. Abuse occasionally escalated into physical violence. She threw things at me, slapped and hit me in the face before. I don't agree with hitting women, and am ashamed to admit that I finally hit back, partly in self defense and partly in anger. That happened once. It didn't help anything. I'm no saint. I did my share of things to make the relationship bad. For example, I pretended to like the physical intimacy, when in fact I had grown to hate it. All to keep her happy and so that she wouldn't blow up. The fights/verbal abuse/threats gradually destroyed my hope, faith and ability to trust. I wanted to leave but couldn't because at the time I didn't have a car or any friends and family nearby, having moved across the country to be closer to her. One day her anger got out of control and she had a stroke. I stayed to make sure she was ok. I blamed myself for it happening to her. Logically it wasn't true, she hadn't been taking her blood pressure medicine, but part of me wondered if our fights, or whether or not I was bad for her, contributed to what had happened. She lost the ability to be physically abusive, got more heavily immersed in the church after having a stroke, and seemed to be changed. But somewhere in the back of mind I could never shake the idea that she might return to her former self if she heals completely. And there were still times where she used leverage where she had it, to make power plays, such as with the car, threatening to call the cops if I used it, even though we used it together without problems when everything is ok. I've been gone for about nine months staying with family in another state, but had left my stuff in 'our house.' After learning she was planning to move her sister into the house (her sister is fresh off a divorce, and has the same rage/psychological issues from her upbringing that my girlfriend had) I decided with a very heavy heart to make the difficult decision to leave. I bought a ticket and flew in when she was gone helping her sister pack, got whatever I could fit in two bags, left a text message letting her know what was happening, and am back with my family. I don't know why I shared this story except maybe to help show that abuse isn't just something men engage in; women can be just as bad, and it can be just as emotionally devastating for an abused man than an abused woman. There is no shame in admitting you have been the victim of abuse. It doesn't make you any less of a man to come forward and share your story if you have one. I hope more men will be open in the future to sharing their stories. The reasons for staying in abusive relationship are complicated and different for everyone. Me personally, I'm sentimental, it really hurt me to break it off and I think it will hurt deeply in the coming weeks, days, months. I hope it was the right decision.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 6 2018 at 6:12 pm
Thanks for sharing. Many similarities here. Now trying to sort out the legal issues.
April, 2 2018 at 10:28 am
I just got out of an abusive relationship and now I’m trying to move on with my life. I’m having trouble sleeping and I keep thinking about the abuse. I’m going to counselling and it seems to be helping me understand why this happened and why it isn’t my fault. My ex is bi-polar and an alcoholic. He abused me when he would drink verbally and physically. I left the relationship but he convinced me after he went to rehab that he changed. After I went back there he verbally and emotionally abused me. He cheated on me and told me I was a bad person because I left after he physically abused me. The day I left him and his family bullied me while I was sobbing that my fiancé was cheating on me and verbally abusing me. I felt so alone and I had to find the strength to gather my things, stand up for myself and try to cut off contact after I left. Right now I’m dealing with the trauma of that day and when I close my eyes to sleep that’s all I can think about. But I know I don’t want to ever go back and that I’m safer and happier without him.
March, 31 2018 at 10:57 am
I have beven in a mentally abusive relationship for 14 years . He has took everyone from my friends and family . He hated me to be around my mother . Now I really regret staying away from her as much because I didn't want to fight with him. She passed away 3 years ago . I also lost my best friend .That I had completely stop talking to because of him . He convinced me that everyone was bad for me. And I believed him. Now I have no family or friends left. He is very manipulating he goes from mean to sweet all the time. He calls me names all the time. He cheats on me. Tells me am not a woman or a mother.I don't know how to do anything right. We work at the same place because he don't allow me to be alone . Everything I do at work am trying to see some man . He gets mad even when a male speaks to me he takes it out on me. I tried to do everything he asked but I still do something wrong. We both have 3 children I have 3 by my ex husband and he had three with his ex before we meet. We have wanted a baby together for years. But I had by tubes tied after my 3 rd child. He said that a baby will change him. I know better. But I still wanted a baby. Five years ago he had another baby by someone else. It hurt me so bad even threw all the abuse I still thought he loved me. I thought that he was like this because he was scared I didn't love him. Also his ex kept his kids from him for years. I thought he was grieving cause he missed them . Well his kids have been back in his life for the last few years he just got worst and my kids have had to go threw hell . His kids do nothing wrong my kids or bad they do everything wrong. Two have left one is 19 the other is 17. He says their grown they need to be out of the hous. He has a 16 year old . He still a kid he plays sports he doing something with his life. Is what he said yours isnt.I tell him all the time you cant treat them different. He will just say that I don't know how to be a mother. This wouldn't happen. He tells me his ex is so much better than me all the time. I tell him to leave and go be with her. But he want leave no matter what. He never sorry for anything he said or dose. He will just love on me and tell me he loves me . And I fall for it every time. He tells me that all ithe have us him.That's what keeps me with him I have no one else to ca'll or talk to. Also the home we live in belonged to my family and he want get out . I would have to leave my on home and go stay in a shelter somewhere to get away. I cwouldn't even do that because my youngest is 15 year old boy. Shelters where I live don't allow males over 12 to stay. Am so miserable I feel like I don't even want to live anymore sometimes. I know I could never take my own life I would never do that to my children. But am so miserable i am s tried of being told am nothing everyday of my life and getting accused of cheating or looking at other man. I don't know what to do. I pray that he changes and see what he is doing.I even tell him how he makes me feel he just gets angry even more.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 31 2018 at 5:55 pm
Dawn.. I read this and this hurts to hear that you are going through this. Its a hard situation... I know because Ive beem that too. The advice I can give you is to stay positive and strong. Ignore him and just get through it by praying and not allowing it to bother you. All this nonsense is for a reason. To be strong and to learn. I know u dont feel like u can leave him now, but understand that you can try to help him understand how you feel. But dont argue or fight about it. Talk to him and approach him differently then you usually would. You need the strength to move out. Material things are replaceable but family and humans arent. Your important and there is a purpose for your life. You can do this. Stay strong and if you decide to stay with him , I understand because i know its hard. But dont allow him to continue to disrespect you. You just giving him the power of you. Only way these men learn is when you put your foot down and dont let him get away with that. I HOPE AND PRAY that your heart heals from this. Im sorry to hear about your mom's passing. But you just gained a guardian angel and she is watching over you and protecting you. You will get through this and your experiences from this is going to help someone else. God bless your and your children.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 1 2018 at 12:30 pm
Hi Dawn,

I am one of the authors of this blog and I'd like to thank you for your brave and honest post. I am really sorry to hear what you're going through, but I can only say that perhaps it is a blessing in disguise that you didn't have a baby with this man. I agree with what Jamie has said -- you can't go on like this. Emotional abuse and cohesive control are incredibly damaging, and you will only continue to feel like a shell of your former self if the situation doesn't change. Whether you make a plan to leave him or you try to create boundaries within the relationship, something needs to change.

If you want to leave, you could call a <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">domestic violence helpline</a> to find out what your options are. I know you say shelters aren't an option, but there are other charities and organizations set up to help women in your situation, depending on where you live. If you can find a free legal advice session happening near you, a solicitor could answer any questions you have about what might happen to your home and work arrangements if you split from your partner. Please don't give up -- you deserve better than someone who crushes your spirit. Good luck!
March, 20 2018 at 1:57 am
I have been in abusive relationship for 9 years now. It used to get physical about 5 years ago and he would hit me give me a black eye once, the physical abuse happened when we would drink heavily. He hasn’t hit me since but the mental abuse is at an all time high. I feel so cut off from the world. He hates my family. Always bad mouthing them saying my entire family are horrible people. We live two hours from them. I have a two year old daughter and I’m a stay at home mom. I don’t have access to anything. He won’t add me to the bank account, he doesn’t allow me to drive. I have no money. I can’t work cause he won’t pay for childcare. I’m really starting to feel like I need to leave for my child. It breaks my heart that she needs to see and hear what she does. He has absolutely no respect for me. Just five minutes ago he called me a dumb bitch. He is constantly threatening to kick me out and get full custody of our daughter. I feel so trapped. I’m so depressed and I feel so alone. Some times my daughter and I go days without leaving the house. I have been a mess lately. The abuse is getting so bad. I’m constantly walking on eggshells. Everything I say makes him mad at me. He will scream at me in front of our daughter and I know it’s going to have an effect on her. I don’t want her to end up in the same situation I am cause she thinks it’s normal. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I’m so broken.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 20 2018 at 4:52 pm
I’m sure your family would love to help you. Please know there is always a way out, you just need to find it. Please do before it gets even worse, think of your child, they deserve better, they deserve got their mum to be happy and respected. Start putting a plan in place to leave, you’ve made the first step.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 22 2018 at 8:32 pm
I’m afraid to leave. I really don’t want to lose my daughter. I have no money of my own and I can’t try and secretly hide money because I don’t have access to it and he would know if I did. My mom can’t really afford to help me with anything. I don’t know what my rights are as far as leaving with my daughter. He spins everything on me and says it’s all me and I’m a miserable person. I can’t even say anything to anyone anymore with out feeling tense or like I’m being judge or made fun of. I’m so lost. I want to leave I just don’t know how or where I’ll go. I definitely can’t afford a lawyer. He has told me in the past that he’ll throw me out and keep our daughter cause he can afford a good lawyer and maybe not on the lease so I’ll have to leave. He’s such a toxic person.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 24 2018 at 1:54 pm
Hi Danielle,

Thank you for commenting here. I'm sorry to hear what you're going through, but I am glad you can realize that your situation is toxic and dangerous. I know it feels impossible right now, but it seems your only option of being safe and happy is to make steps to leave and take your daughter with you. Your partner will be reinforcing your feelings of isolation and hopelessness because that's what keeps you under his control, but not everything he's saying is necessarily accurate or true. You do have rights here.

That said, you do need to seek some advice. Lawyers quite often do "pro bono" work to help people in similar situations to you, particularly women, so that is worth exploring. You should also get in touch with your local Women's Aid or domestic abuse shelter to see if they can help. There is a Domestic Abuse Hotline number on our <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">resources page</a> that you can also try.

I am by no means an expert on family law, but I think any case he puts up in court will be dismantled if you can prove he's been abusive toward you. Start recording incidents, taking photos of injuries and consider reporting him to the police. All of this could be used as part of your defence, and the police may be able to help you prepare an exit strategy.

Good luck, and don't forget how brave you are for having to face this every day. There is a better future out there for you, I promise.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 30 2018 at 3:09 pm
Get out I was in the same situation for 9 years call the police get a restraining order and you can move on

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Alice Hendersona
March, 30 2018 at 5:22 pm
Danielle, I really know how you feel, our grandsons have been victims of a very sick narcissistic step father, so you need to call the police when he's not home, and please get child protective services involved too. He sounds severely narcissistic. But you are brave for just opening up about what you are going through.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 31 2018 at 6:07 pm
You can leave him. If he hits you call the cops. Get him arrested and there are so many things out there to help you. Sign up for medi cal, welfare anything that can get you through this. You have a child so the government will help you more. I was in abusive relationship for years. I had enough when my son was 6 years old and all the times I called the cops on him. The courts didnt give him a chance. He went to prison and i was able to get away from him. It gave me a chance to go to school and get a degree. My family was there to help me. Once he got out, he hit me again because i was dumb enough to believe he changed. So i called the cops amd that was the end of it. I realized i was worth it and he didny deserve me. Dont allow his misery to ruin two lives... yours and your daughter. This is a sign for you to escape now. Call the cops and dont protect or feel sorry for him. He doesn't deserve you and your daughter deserves a better role model. She will have emotional scars. Please find a way out. And only get temporary assistance for government. Grow from it and once you are on your feet then you wont need it anymore.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 31 2018 at 11:00 pm
Hi Danielle , I just read your post. I can relate to your story. I would love to chat with you and have someone to talk to help me threw.
March, 15 2018 at 7:39 am
I have experienced this in the past from lady who verbally abuse me, it took me some time to understand this because in my mind i thought its only the men that abuse women never knew it could be the other way around, thanks for sharing this for more people to know and understand where they are heading to in their relationships.
March, 11 2018 at 6:45 am
Hey I'm pregnant and I'm 23 years old I've been with this guy since April of 2017. Every since then i have been moving around place to place with him trying to get on our feet. But nothing ever works out. I have alot of mental disabilities. Everywhere we go we can't stay long enough. He does not want to keep his mouth shut in order to get on our feet. He has made it to where my family don't want nothing to do with me and especially him. He makes problems out of every little thing anyone ever says or does it could be who picks him up from work. It could be anything. He is always getting mad at me because I'm worried about losing my baby because he don't know how to keep his mouth shut and I tell him we got to get on our feet or i will lose my baby and that he needs to stop. He gets mad and says that I am saying everything is always his fault. And he will yell at me threaten to take my phone away or even not pay my fine because I got in trouble and now I have to go to court he says get my family to pay it and see what happens since everything is his fault and I just try to tell him it's best not to say anything it only makes things worse. He demands sex he says if I won't give it he will take it. He has pulled my hair grab my face etc. He has made me turn against my family. He says I can't make it with out him and sadly because I can't work I feel that way. At one point he threatened to take my baby away. He has messed up my mind to the point to where I can't even function right. I'm so emotional and I sometimes I feel suicidal because of the situation he puts us in. Nothing is ever his fault he never does anything wrong as he says it. He yells at me till I start crying won't stop and then afterwards a few minutes later he says come here you know I love you baby I wasn't getting a attitude with you. He used to control what I wear but since I started getting further in my pregnancy he stopped. We just got kicked out my cousins place now we going back to my mother's knowing how long that's going to last she is and alcoholic and raises hell all the time and it gets bad she has put her hands on me called me names and I feel so trapped I can't get out and even if I want to something happens in my head and it's like I can't leave him. He calls me bitch, whore, slut, and at times he says I'm just like my stupid family and I always take up for them even though i just try to get him to stop saying things because it's going to make our situation worse. And won't listen to me.he has gotten mad at me just for asking him a question when he's got his ear phones in. He says just because I tell him we need to make things work and save up his money as fast as he can to get a place to stay before anything else happens like getting kicked out. And also we don't have to worry no more and he gets mad and says all you do is using me for my money. And that's not it I'm concerned for my baby. I fear of losing my baby so much to where it is no end. He basically eliminated me from my whole family turned my family against me and me against my family.he says what he says goes. And he says all I care about is my baby and my court date. At times he can be really good to me and he blames it on my family if we get in and arguments he says it's always my family. He has broke my mental state to where I don't even know anymore. He is in a way forcing me to name my baby after him which is the third. It's like anything I want doesn't matter. It's always what he wants he doesn't trust me with not even his phone he says I'm always going through it. And he don't trust me with money. He has put me through the ringer. I don't know what to do or how much I can take. At one point I wanted to go get my self a mental evaluation he wouldn't let me. One of our fights got so bad I wanted to call the police he threatened to hurt me. He hit me in my head before. And then says he never hit me. There has been times where he is really good and sweet to me but then he gets really mean. He has blamed me for things happening. Blamed my family. I feel like I'm stuck. I'm having a war inside my head and it's not very fun. I just feel like giving up. He has basically made it to where I'm always confused I don't know who to trust and I'm always paranoid. He has made it to where I wouldn't know how to live with out him. He's made me feel so bad over everything.i just wish god would help me somehow. I pray everyday. I'm always depressed, scared, worried, paranoid, and my emotion I can't think of. I feel there's no way out.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Nicholas L Bankston
March, 19 2018 at 10:02 am
Your story sounds so close to mine .everything you said hit so close to home .so i will tell you what i did ..i ask him to go to the store for a pack of ? and when he gone i got on a bike and went to the neatest hospital. And told them everything how he grab me by my throat and how he pulled me down the hall by my hair he forced his self on me everything .they called the police. And i was taken to a woman shelter then the next day to a safe house..where i waited for a week til i finally got in touch with an old friend thing to do is speak out let people know what is going on..

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 20 2018 at 5:09 pm
You deserve so much better. You need to find a way to leave. It will be so hard, but so worth it. Sending love.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 23 2018 at 5:17 pm
Kimberly, I'm so sorry for everything you've been going through! Being pregnant is already so hard on us emotionally without all of the abuse and trauma on top of that. If he is treating you badly, and offering you no hope for a secure and stable future for your baby, I think you need to consider some other options. I understand things aren't good with your family right now, were they always this way or is this solely a result of his influence? As a soon to be mom I imagine you must be constantly weighing the options of what is best for your baby, separation from the father that has proved to be toxic and making it on your own as a single mom and child or sticking with him and hoping for a change to keep the family unit together. I have to tell you, I too was in a toxic marriage when pregnant and it was incredibly difficult for me, when my twins were born I filed for divorce when my babies were just a couple weeks old and it was the best thing I ever did for myself and my babies. I know my story isn't the same as yours and the outcome may not be either but I want you to know you don't have to feel hopeless without him. You could very well go on to have a happy life with a healthy happy home for yourself and your baby. I think you need to do whatever you feel is best for your child. Also, if you are considering harming yourself because of the level of toxicity in this relationship, you need to reach out for help. I will attach some links to a few articles and resources I think may help you in your search for the right path to take as well as some important numnbers in the case you are having suicidal thoughts. Please hang in there, I wish you the best of luck, reach out to us here at HealthyPlace anytime.

<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Toxic Relationships: Friend and Family Estrangement</a>
<a href="" rel="noopener" target="_blank">Reasons to leave a verbally abusive relationship</a>
<a href="" target="_blank" rel="noopener nofollow">Hotline Numbers and Resources</a>

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 24 2018 at 12:44 am
Kimberly what city and state are you in? I’ll try to find you help
Sleeping with the enemy
March, 3 2018 at 1:54 am
Refreshing take on dire situation. I have been married for 20 years. Verbal and physical abuse were right out of the gate. I still had a voice somewhat, but then lost my job. The trouble escalated to a beating if I talk back. I still can't leave. I tried 3 months ago stayed away 8 weeks and did horribly! He threatened me the 2nd day I was back. I stayed with sick father and step mother. I felt like I was in a fish bowl for display. My step mother is very manipulative and used me and pitted dad against me so I came home. Now with no where to go I'll stay and deal and pray.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 20 2018 at 5:11 pm
Please don’t, you have to find another way. There must be help in your area, an agency or someone that can help you.
February, 18 2018 at 4:24 am
I'm am a victim of mental torture. I so much want to leave my relationship but I just can't. I feel that no one will believe me what I'm going through. I just don't know how to explain what hell I'm going through. My wife has it that way I can't even talk to my daughter, who thinks it's all in my head. I have read about gaslighting and it's exactly what is happening to me . I'm scared to leave, I will have nothing. I don't know what to do. I need help.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 19 2018 at 6:05 am
Hi Michael,

I'm so sorry to hear what you're going through -- and thank you for commenting. A lot of people who are abused fear that they won't be believed, and part of what makes psychological abuse so insidious is that the perpetrator has a way of making the victim feel that it's all in his/her head, as well as influencing those around them.

If you're sure you want to leave, could you start preparing an exit strategy? Saving a small amount of money on the side, for example, or arranging to stay with a friend for a while? These things can feel impossible at the time, but there might be ways (granted, less than ideal ways at first) you could make it happen if that's what you want. Speaking from experience, however awful it is to find yourself alone, living in a toxic relationship is far worse.

In the meantime, speaking to a licensed therapist will help you deal with what's going on and perhaps come up with ways you could respond to your wife to curb her abuse. A therapist may also be able to point you toward some other resources that could help you leave the relationship and help you deal with the fallout.

Good luck, and please know that it does get better.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Emotionally abused 2 yrs
February, 22 2018 at 6:18 am
I feel your pain!! I2M in an emotionally abusive relationship. Well, he actually left on Friday and typically R cycle is he leaves gets very mean says horrible things blames my son and I but then says he loves us so much and can't live without us and wants to come home. This is about the 9th time that this has happened. It is so hard to not just tell him to come back. It's so hard because I love him. But, at this point I have realized that the emotional abuse is affecting my teenage son and I and I need to just let him go. This pattern of abuse has gone on for way too long and I'm embarrassed that I have put up with it. But, people put up with things when they love somebody. When hes good hes so good he so caring loving. Empathetic, supportive, But when something sets him off boy he is the biggest you know what! He has recently smashed my son's gaming system that my son paid for with his own money, took his computer, took his cell phone, has smashed its at least 2 other cellphones. One of the scariest things I have experienced is he has held a gun to his head right in front of me a few times. He has also threatened suicide many times and told me that he has Taken pills and he will be gone soon. That is how I brought him back home last time, I went and picked him up. I hope that I can stay strong and not allow him to come home. We have been married for 3 years. Anyways, felt good to rant. I am sorry for anyone else who is going through similar experiences. Stay strong leave when you're ready.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 3 2018 at 8:28 am
I know how you feel, I have been there before. I left my husband on two weeks ago today and took our young son with us - from the sounds of it your daughter is older.
If you haven't done some of these things, I highly recommend doing them:
1. Call the National Abuse Hotline - they are trained and can help you talk through what you are going through. They can also help you get a plan together and figure out what action steps you need to take. They also can provide you with Resources for your area which can help you - shelters if you need it, legal, etc. They are wonderful.
2. Start Journaling - if you can't explain what is going on from memory, don't. Start writing it all down in a journal after it happens! Be discrete about it. The journal will ensure that you don't forget anything and you can see that you are not making it up, and you will have something to go on.

I didn't realize the abuse was happening to me until I started writing down my observations in a journal. Two days later I left because it was SO clear.

Now when I look at my husband as he is seeking counseling, I see a very weak man. He was so cruel so me and our son because he didn't want anyone to see how weak he really was. He had tricked me into believing it was my fault, and that I had to be "perfect," to have him act "good," when in reality, the only person who can "fix" him, is himself. It's not my responsibility. He must do the leg work.

I can say that finding a good church has been hard, but a wonderful resource for support. Not many, but a few people have offered out numbers to me and have been there for me. Be deliberate in your actions and go to places where you can be showered with love. You need to thaw out for a while and feel like a sensitive, loving, human being again.
I will be praying for you.

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