If you are in an abusive relationship, you cannot just wish that your partner would change. You must critically assess your situation – even talk with an expert if necessary – and make a decision that guarantees your safety and that of your loved ones.
Note that a toxic relationship is not the only one where your partner physically assaults you. Some of the forms of partner abuse include emotional, financial, psychological, and sexual abuse. Likewise, consider leaving a relationship where you are unhappy or your partner controls and manipulates you, as these are abusive relationships.
When To Leave or Break Up With An Abusive Partner
The first step is to recognize the behavioral pattern of an abusive partner. While these vary from person to person, consider answering the following questions:
- Does your partner physically assault you?
- Has he/she ever threatened or suggested assaulting you?
- Does he/she exhibit any controlling or monitoring behavior, such as always wanting to know where you are?
- Does he/she frequently make baseless accusations?
- Does he/she blame you for his/her behavior?
- Does he/she promise one thing and does the other?
- Does he/she exhibit punitive behavior, e.g., withholding intimacy and delaying your important needs/decisions?
- Does he/she have a history of abusive behavior with a former partner?
- Does he/she make you do something even when you are clearly uncomfortable?
How To Leave or Break Up With An Abusive Partner
- Take An Inventory Of Your Situation: If you answered yes to more than two of the above questions? You are in an abusive relationship – and need to get out. Consider talking to a professional at the National Domestic Violence Hotline.
- Make Two or More Exit Plans: This step is significant if you live with an abusive partner. Begin by taking a danger assessment quiz. You will need to plan on how and when you are leaving. Does your partner have a routine that gives you a window of opportunity to leave and go to a safe place or local shelter? Make that plan A. If you have many things in his/her place that you will need to get back, you will need the help of trusted friends or law enforcement. Being sneaky and discrete about moving your belongings is not advisable because abusive partners quickly recognize the pattern. Instead, consider leaving first and having your friends pick up your stuff – and in extreme cases, call law enforcement. Having supportive friends or officers accompany you will help make leaving easier.
- Financing Your Plans: Financial independence is crucial, especially when leaving a physical abuser or a controlling and manipulative partner. With your plans ready and secure, save up or get a loan from supportive friends and family members. If you can afford to, you may leave all your belongings when it is time to go.
- Break The News: The delivery method is critical when dealing with a violent, unstable, controlling, or manipulative partner. The best place to break the news is in a public place where you feel safe. You may have a supportive friend stay within visual range, ready and quick to intercede if necessary. A rule of thumb is to gauge your partner’s mood or mental condition before breaking the news. However, if you do not wish to see or face your abuser, write them a note, text, or email. However, consider dropping the message and sending the email at the last possible time, just before you leave.
Here are a few quick tips:
- Make it short and brief – be assertive
- Do not stay to talk things over or explain how they have been abusive
- Control your emotions as much as you can. A manipulative partner can sense and exploit your emotions
- Keep a safe distance and do not be physical with the person
- Do not mention where you are going, as this may give the partner access to you
What To Expect When You Leave or Break Up With An Abusive Partner
- They will beg you or try to reason with you – and make promises
- If that fails, your abusive partner may guilt-trip you
- Rage and anger is a common reaction
- A vindictive partner may try to ruin your reputation
- You may miss them in the first couple of months; this is normal. However, maintain your resolution.
If you need help in any of these steps, talk to professionals at the National Domestic Violence Hotline on Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233).