Develop an Exit Strategy to Escape Verbal Abuse

May 5, 2011 Kellie Jo Holly

Create an exit strategy to get out of the way when your abuser fires up. There's no reason to stand there and listen. An exit strategy helps you cope better.

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?

Learn exit strategies and get out of the way when your abuser fires up. There's no reason to stand there and listen. Read this. 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

Learn exit strategies and get out of the way when your abuser fires up. There's no reason to stand there and listen. Read more. 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)

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

*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.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2011, May 5). Develop an Exit Strategy to Escape Verbal Abuse, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

November, 12 2020 at 6:26 pm

Could you and I talk on Instagram or something so I can explain my situation better? I'm on Twitter and Instagram as im_AbrianaMtz
Thanks :)

November, 17 2018 at 7:00 am

My husband really tricked me. I gave up everything my career and my self identity to travel with him for his career. Now I cant find a job due to following him for his career and now that I cant find work he treats me like dirt. Very verbally abusive. He has the audacity to blame me for everything. I cant take this any more I have to leave and will leave.

Bob K
April, 29 2018 at 7:22 am

Hi all, my wife is verbally abusive. In November of last year, she left for a month. I made the choice to accept her back into the house. She made promises and so did I, that we would do specific actions to take steps to better ourselves. She hasn't followed through 9n any of them, we are back into the same cycle. Her threat is always that she is leaving, how wonderful it is without me.... by proxy, taking our kids. I'm sure I am terrified for my own emotional reasons, but, I can't stand to see my kids go through that or me go through not being able to be with them.
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.
Ideas? Suggestions?

Joy Johannes
February, 12 2018 at 10:37 pm

I feel really stuck. If I stay, stand to receive lots of $$. If I leave, I receive only a quarter or so. I haven't worked in 7 years - I am not able to do the job anymore. What is to be done?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 13 2018 at 4:07 pm

Hello Joy. In my experience, if I stayed, I stood to gain $400,000 -- relatively soon as it turned out. However, although the past years have been financially difficult, I am very glad I did not stay. For me, the prospect of $400,000 wasn't enough to keep me in the abusive relationship. Even when I saw that money paid out to others, I felt no envy or regret. I also had no relative work experience, and although difficult, I persevered and my working life is much improved. No amount of money can guarantee happiness, and I know this because I'm much happier and healthier broke than I was when I had more money.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

February, 20 2018 at 12:01 pm

Joy, Thanks for reaching out! Are you referring to a relationship you're currently involved in? I'm so sorry for your troubles. Feeling stuck is the worst! It can feel hopeless and like things will never change, but don't lose hope! I like to think nothing in life is permanent. There are always changes that can be made. I imagine that the idea of leaving and being left with nothing can feel really scary. Do you have any close friends or family that you can reach out to? Reaching out to trusted loved ones is always some of my first advice. Also there are women's advocate programs for women suffering abuse. They offer anything from legal help to counseling, shelter, etc. I'll include a link with some hotline numbers and other resources below. Thanks again for reaching out Joy. Take care -Emily
Hotline Numbers
Women Against Abuse Legal Center
Domestic Abuse Counseling

Rachel m jackson
May, 12 2017 at 4:01 am

I need help!!!

August, 14 2016 at 6:41 am

Hey Kellie. Hopefully you're still watching this article. I've read through this whole series and it's been so helpful! I've tried to establish boundaries before, but I find it so hard to leave the house (he just follows me to a different room if I only leave the room) while my children are still at home. I want to take them with me because there's a big risk that he would take it out on them if I leave. However, if I start to take the kids with me (I have two; one is three and the other under one so it does take some preparation to leave with them), he accuses me of being manipulative by depriving him of our children. I would pass that off as another abuse tactic but his therapist stands behind him on this point. Help?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
August, 15 2016 at 4:11 pm

His therapist? You mean the one he lies to and manipulates? This sounds like another set up on his part. He's worried about you leaving him. If you consistently leave him without taking the children, that opens the door for him to show that you abandoned them, repeatedly, when you thought he was abusing you. How will that look to a judge when this disaster of a relationship ends up in divorce court?
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.

BB Doe
April, 28 2016 at 6:07 am

This is great, but I'd love to see articles that address physical illness or when the abused person is unwell...what do they do?
" 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?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
May, 2 2016 at 12:45 pm

The best thing to do is to call the NDVH or visit their website at Tell them everything and maybe they can guide you on this dire situation. Perhaps you could qualify for a caregiver to visit you (tell your abuser that he/she needs a break every now and then - you're only thinking of them, blah blah). If an outsider comes in, you'll have someone to confide in. The caregiver may also be able to get you to a safe place.
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:…
Here's our information on 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.

March, 25 2016 at 9:41 am

hi Peeps
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.

February, 1 2016 at 4:01 pm

my mother is a very suspecting and abusive person. she suspects my dad all d time and abuses him. I feel really bad fr dad but I can't help. its not that I haven't tried. nothing seems to work. yesterday she was yelling at me bcz I was a bit late home saying she will destroy my life and kill me. plz tell me what to do. I won't b able to earn up until a couple of years from now but please tell me how to deal with this now

December, 3 2015 at 3:04 pm

Stella: best of luck to you and God bless. My wife is a verbal abuser. I have 2 young girls and i try to make sure she limits her drinking to when they are in bed. However her abuse occurs with or without alcohol. I need to stay in the marriage because getting full custody is so difficult. I need to stay because of the drinking/anger she exhibits regularly. There have been times the girls were sick and she was passed out cold on the floor. I often think of those nights and just cringe of the thought of me not being there. As others have said...she often accuses me of "running away like a pansy"....I know it infuriates her more than anything when I calmly walk away because this is the point where her control is lost. So as I walk away she usually tosses the worst and loudest insults---getting a last couple parting shots in. I'm always the one to blame for everything. The other day she (soberly)accuses me of losing the scissors. Swearing yelling, front of the kids. Then she quietly apologizes and says "you're still an asshole" again, in front of the kids. She hates being wrong and basically hates that I'm younger, make more money than her, exercise more than her, am nicer, am a better parent, you name it. Everything's a competition and she's not a good loser. I try to suggest talking calmly and rationally (if sober) but it doesn't help at all. I bring up the topic of karma and she laughs at how stupid this idea is. A few times she made fun of me when I pray with the kids. When this last happened (she was drinking) my 5 year old was very upset. Each time I am speechless and try to keep praying in tears. She and I were both raised Catholic and she went to a catholic university. I work hard and am a really good dad and involved in everything our kids do. She says I'm useless and lazy. i just hate that my perfect girls have to witness this. It's a heavy burden. The second our kids are in college, bam!---I am taking a LONG trip to anywhere she ain't.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
December, 6 2015 at 7:31 pm

It sounds like it would be better to take the children and go wherever she ain't NOW. Yes, you'll probably have to share custody (since she's not physically violent), but time alone with your children where you can help God soothe their troubled minds while they are young is worth more than sending them to college after the damage is instilled.
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.

November, 21 2015 at 5:43 pm

I just went through with my safety and exit plan. Left my ex husband after 16 years once and for all. He is bipolar and hard core alcoholic. On and off his meds. I quit my job and he turned on me when I couldn't find another one. Verbally abused me. Told me the day before I left that he really wanted to kill me or physically hurt me. I had already planned my exit. Made up a story about house sitting for someone. Walked out the door and never went back. His sister tried to contact me. So I wrote her a letter and told her everything. It has been about 14 weeks since I left. I am not sorry but feel a bit guilty about not telling I was not coming back.

October, 21 2015 at 7:15 pm

Hello I'm wanting a bit of advice please. I'm 34 yes old mother of one son. My bf and I have been together for a year now and we currently live together. He is very verbally abusive to me. He calls me names and says mean things to me. He talks about my family members to upset me including my parenting to my son. He gets upset about the smallest things just as equal to something bigger. He hurts my feelings so bad and I cry a lot. He causes my tears but says I'm always playing the victim. I do think that he has mental issues that was caused by his childhood. I do find myself making excuses for his actions because I love him so much. Once he realizes how horribly he has treated me he does seem remorseful and apologizes and does things to make me happy again. Most days he can be so sweet and charming but in others he's the devil. My self esteem is very low. My family says that I've changed. I pray all the time for us to be more in tune with each other but I'm still waiting. I do feel stupid and dumb for staying. I guess it's the good days that keep me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
October, 23 2015 at 8:04 am

The good days are liars. You know that though. You keep waiting for a break in the pain, and the good days give you that break. This pattern will continue as long as you stay with your abuser. It will wear you down further. You will lose your friends and family because they want to help but don't know how. Your son could come to resent you for staying, or worse, begin acting like the male role model in the home.
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.

August, 23 2015 at 12:27 pm

Be careful. Much of this site is heartfelt and I'm sure helpful to many, but it promotes the confusion of several different psych concepts and rolls them into one, and sometimes into other totally unrelated concepts without carefully drawing distinctions.
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.

November, 17 2014 at 2:11 am

My boyfriend tells me I'm immature when I leave the house and spend the night somewhere else to avoid his abuse. He tries to guilt me into staying by saying that I need to act like an adult, stop being childish and not "run away" when we argue because according to him, everything we argue about is "minor." I told him I leave because I"m not going to stick around and take the verbal abuse and he retaliates with "You don't know what verbal abuse is" It becomes hard to leave because he will just call me incessantly and continue the abuse. And not answering my phone doesn't help that much. He calls me to say that he "wants to know I'm safe" such bullshit. But then he'll rant on about my "childish behavior" It really is a no win.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 19 2018 at 12:52 pm

I have done this. I abused my husband. I used this manipulative tactic to try to make him feel bad for leaving, because it made me feel bad. It was coming from a place where I knew I had done something wrong but when he leaves I feel crushed, like there's no hope of resolution. We developed a system that he can tell me that he needs to disengage, and I can tell him I need to disengage, whenever the argument is no longer productive. Neither person is allowed to engage the other until the person who disengaged is ready to come back and talk. Having something like this agreed upon ahead of time made it so that it doesn't kick my anxiety into overdrive when he leaves during an argument because I was being destructive. And because my anxiety isn't triggered by him leaving in this way, I don't get more abusive and I realize it IS the healthy thing to do. Now I need to work on disengaging before I go nuclear, which is tough. There is actually less support for abusers to get help than those who are abused.

September, 21 2014 at 5:59 pm

My husband always said things to remind me of how desired he was. Aside from his 10+ marriage that ended in divorce (according to him she cheated) he had sexual relationships with random women and tried to get married a few times before we married. He was on many dating sites but promised to stop going to them. After finding that he was still visiting theses sites we argued. He said he would stop and naturally by then I had a complex and low self esteem. When he's angry he calls me horrible names. I was a complete lady when I met him so his words are empty but it hurts because he's saying them. I want to leave but I'm ashamed to fail. He always tells me that I'll fail at everything that I do even in this marriage. I guess I'm stubborn. Do I leave? I know I'll be better with out him and his abusiveness. He goes as far as throwing my school books around and calling me a whore and bitch that I'm sure the neighbors can hear him. He's says he's leaving tomorrow and that his life will be better than living here. He says itleast he lived in a house. We live in a studio. What he fails to understand is that with every word he only closes the door on our marriage. I know now that I must leave. I hope he does go. I may be a failure and have no money but I'll itleast have a clear mind. Aside from failing which seems inevitable I'm afraid too. How am I going to pay my bills with no job? He also said that if I stay here it will only be because I'll cry and the victim otherwise I'll go to the streets. He always says that I have no home no country. These are all words to hurt me so I ignore them. In my defense I was not jealous or had low self esteem but he created this monster. I only blame myself for allowing him to manipulate me. It's a sad good bye because I lost my marriage. I'm glad that this suffering wasn't a long one and that better times are coming.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
September, 22 2014 at 9:15 am

"I want to leave but I’m ashamed to fail. He always tells me that I’ll fail at everything that I do even in this marriage. I guess I’m stubborn. Do I leave?"
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.

September, 9 2014 at 1:42 pm

I need help on my very verbally abuse relationship, I have been with my husband for 2 1/2 years and all he does is criticize me for any and everything, for the way I dress, cook, everything. I am only 19 years old and we have a little boy together. I don't make enough money to be able to support my son fully and that's what is really stopping me from leaving. I love him with all my heart but I already have mental illness and he makes it ten times worse. He isn't a good father. He makes good money and works really hard but, he's very materialistic and selfish. If we do not have intercourse every night he proceeds to tell me that he is going to cheat on me N record it and make me watch it and calls me names like cunt and whore. I got no idea of what to do for the sake of my son. I want out but I think of it as just take it and take it until your break, and I can't get to my breaking point. I'm lost and don't know what to do.

August, 18 2014 at 3:17 pm

Your blog is very well received... Sadly that is.. But all the same, what is that saying, once your ready the teacher will appear.. First off I am deeply saddened but have to accept what you have explained.. I know my husband had emotional deficits for years and I know he has always been abusive. But you always find a reason to excuse their bad behavior.. An ex model, turned RN I have always taken pretty good care of myself.. All of a sudden I am a shell of what I once was. He isolates me and does whatever he wishes... He throws money at me after bad behavior and in the beginning that was was I took away from the relationship.. Now I grow weaker and know I must go... He threatens to go until I'm so stressed out... And than comes home and I'm like why??? Cuz obviously he needs me to knock down cuz he feels so low... I want to run screaming!!!! I now see he couldn't possibly care for me.. But this time no more belittling me.. I'm soo angry but I know communicating with him is useless.. He blocked me from leaving before, but I will figure this out before my health deterioates further and my children suffer more abuse...

Maggie Johnson
July, 16 2014 at 8:19 pm

If you are living, or married, to someone who is abusive and drinks you might want to find the nearest Al Anon meeting. I read in one of the posts that "my spirit is gone". You will find your spirit again through Al Anon. Through time you will find the strength, and desire, to do what needs to be done.....whether that is staying in the relationship or moving on. Living with substance abuse is hard, and we become enablers without realizing it. All of us have responsibility in helping create a bad relationship, and unless you own your part, another bad relationship might be in your future. Al Anon is free and most places in the civilized world have meetings. Google the nearest meeting place and time. Good luck. I still live with my alcoholic but I am living a great life in spite of his drinking and drugging :) When my last child graduates from high school (three years) it might be time to move out.......we shall see.

November, 14 2013 at 1:25 am

I am getting tired of my boyfriends procratination and not letting himself live his full potential. Because of he tries to put laundry off, responsibilities ex. He finally got a job after two years of me supporting us. He has left me twice and both times i brough him back from Orlando, I live in Miami. When he left the second time I was a little wild and I did see other men. I was honest with him as I believed we "broke" up. Now when we argue he throws that in my face he calls me a "Wh**e" and he say's that I have other men to tend to me and take his place. But says in a very nasty manner. He goes through a rge type faze. Even though we agree to put past behind he won't let go. The he will start talking to him self where i can here and say thing to provoke and tells me to shhh! Don't say anything. I can't take it anymore. We make up and he apoligizes I accept. Each time i hope and pray that he will get over me with other men. When I tell him that I don't deserve this abuse. He says, "u are always the victim" in a sarcastic way. He is very dependant on me but doesn't believe that he is. Everything he does he asks me with approval as if he is constantly trying to please me. Then he flips... I am so confused and yes I sometimes wonder how far will this go. Will it ever go away..

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
November, 14 2013 at 5:51 pm

Nope. It will never go away Maria. What you're seeing is what you'll get for the rest of your days. He's attracted to you because you see his "potential"...BUT, in time, he is going to snatch your potential away from you. You will become his pawn and have little motivation to do good things for yourself because his manipulation and control will take all of your energy.
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.

September, 24 2013 at 3:56 am

Very good article.
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!

September, 1 2013 at 9:10 am

I left my abusive husband after being married for less than two years. Of course things did not start bad since day one, but I felt that there were some strange and usual behavior from his side. I loved him then, or so I thought. I trusted him in everything including my money. His choice of residence and lifestyle cost my job. He forced me to live a rental unit were it took me almost 4 hours of commuting every day to go back and forth to work. I was not able to work weekends because he would drag me with him to the cottage every weekend. Eventually, I got laid-off and that is when the abuse and control became so obvious.
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.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
September, 1 2013 at 10:55 am

Congratulations, Hashimi! I did not know how I would survive when I left, either. The stress of not knowing was much easier to deal with than the stress of being abused. At least without him abusing me I was able to make good decisions for ME. I also know there is life after abuse. It is a BETTER life, even with the hardships. Thank you for sharing your story.

August, 5 2013 at 2:57 pm

I've often thought of hiding cameras in the house so that my husband can see the evil look in his eyes. When he's telling my daughter's or myself to f off, calling us stupid idiots, the look on his face is so scary. Our relationship started off abusive. I tried to leave but he lured me back in. Ive been in this for almost 20 years now. Last night he went crazy again. Of course he was drinking. I recorded him and tried to email it to him so that he could hear how he sounds. When it didn't go thru I told him he needed to hear it and he told me no. He's acting like he has no idea of what I'm upset about. I have no running vehicle
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. ..

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Holly
August, 7 2013 at 5:10 am

Angela, I understand your desire for security before leaving him. However, it will be easier to find that income without him in your home constantly abusing you. When I left I had no job and no prospects of a job. I did have $2400 (enough to get into a rental home at $600/month). I talked to the landlord and told her I would find a job within three months, and fortunately, I did. I don't know if you believe in God or a higher power of some sort, but I believe that God helped me as much as He could while I lived with my abuser. When I took the leap of faith and left, God was there to catch me, help me, comfort me, and provide for me and my boys.
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:

January, 7 2013 at 9:24 am

I got my lightbulb moment after 22 years of marriage. I knew from the day he verbally abused me out of the blue there was something terribly wrong. I am now divorced and have nothing to do with my ex husband every so often I get a ranting email and it just reminds me how his mind works. Although now married (poor woman) he obviously needs to still blame me and make me responsible for how he feels. It is crazy making stuff . At the end of our relationship his abuse escalated to new heights. Not til I got him away from me did I truly recognise what his game was and was shocked more about the way he used his charm to hook me back in far more than the abuse for some reason that seemed far more sinister.

December, 28 2012 at 1:29 pm

I've tried a lot of exit strategies, including trying to ignore the person's abuse. However I'm at a disadvantage in two respects: 1.the attacks normally happen unexpectedly and at the most inopportune times and places but normally when we are alone or with our kids; 2. when I try to exit my wife, being obsessed with the idea tha I WILL listen to what she has to say, tends to become physical and backs me into a corner or drags me where she wants me to be so I can't leave without having to beat her up and she must know I don't have the stomache for that. The last fight happened when, whilst she was partying with her friends an drinking, I was unfortunate enough to mistakenly feed the baby with breastmilk earmarked for the next day instead of older milk. As I was sitting with my older daughter who was about to sleep, enters my wife in the bedroom shouting at me like I'm a child like I'm not allowed to make mistakes. Telling her that I don't appreciate being treated like a child and not being allowed to make mistakes really set her off. I felt I had enough and told her in a ver impolite way that I did not want her in my life. I felt very bad that my daughter had to witness this including my response, so I apologised to her that she had to witness this and that I love her ver much.

May, 5 2011 at 4:49 am

I have used exit strategies more often than I care to mention. The more empowered I become with the help of my therapist the more explosive he gets so I have a list of places to go such as the mall, a movie, or going to the park with my Ipod to sit, listen to music, and enjoy nature. To think I used to play the victim but not any more!

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