5 Ways to Break Free From Abusive Love

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You’ve been down this road before. The cycle of abuse – those tantalizing high highs and gut-wrenching low lows – has become so familiar, it feels almost comfortable at times. But in your heart you know you deserve more. You long for a love that doesn’t hurt, a partner who lifts you up instead of tearing you down. The thought of leaving is terrifying, but so is the thought of enduring more years of mistreatment. This is your life, your one chance at happiness. Isn’t it time you broke free? Within these 5 simple tips lie the keys to gaining the strength, courage and clarity to walk away from abuse. The journey starts with one single step. Let this be the first.

1. Recognizing the Signs of an Abusive Relationship

Controlling behavior

Does your partner constantly check up on you, demand to know where you are and who you’re with? Do they get angry if you want to spend time with friends or family without them? This controlling behavior is a major red flag. Healthy relationships are built on trust and respect.

Criticism and verbal abuse

Does your partner constantly criticize you, call you names, or yell and scream at you? Verbal and emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. You deserve to be in a relationship where you feel loved and supported.

Isolation

Has your partner cut you off from friends and family or made it difficult for you to see them? Isolating you from your support system is a way for them to gain more control. Don’t let them cut you off from the people who love and support you.

Jealousy

It’s normal to feel some jealousy in a relationship, but excessive jealousy, like constantly accusing you of flirting or cheating when you’re not, is a sign of an unhealthy dynamic. Your partner’s jealousy likely stems from their own insecurity and need for control, not because of anything you’ve done wrong.

Threats

Has your partner ever threatened to hurt you or themselves if you leave the relationship? Threats of any kind are unacceptable and a major warning sign that the situation could escalate to physical violence. Please get help right away by calling emergency services or a domestic abuse helpline. You don’t deserve to feel afraid or trapped in your own relationship.

There are always people who want to help you. You can build a happy, healthy life free from abuse. The first step is recognizing the signs – the rest will follow.

2. Understanding the Cycle of Abuse

If you’re in an abusive relationship, know that the violence typically follows a cycle. First, there’s the tension building phase. Your partner starts criticizing you more, yelling, and becoming increasingly controlling or jealous. You feel like you’re walking on eggshells.

Eventually, there’s an abusive incident like physical or emotional violence. Your partner may apologize afterwards and promise it will never happen again. This is the honeymoon phase. They shower you with affection, gifts, and kind words. You want to believe them, so you stay.

Slowly but surely though, the tension starts building again. The cycle continues repeating over and over, each time potentially becoming more violent and dangerous. Many people struggle to leave because they become trauma-bonded to their abuser through this dizzying cycle.

You absolutely deserve to feel safe and loved. Don’t buy into the empty promises – your partner will not change, and the abuse will not stop. There are people who can help you create an exit plan and find the strength and courage to break free.

Start by telling someone you trust about the situation, like a friend or family member. Contact local authorities, a domestic abuse helpline, or shelter. Plan how you will leave safely by setting aside emergency funds, copies of important documents, and a place to stay. You don’t have to deal with this alone.

With support, you can gain a new perspective of the abuse and manipulation you’ve endured. You can rediscover your self-worth and build a happy, healthy life free from violence. Breaking the cycle of abuse is challenging, but you owe it to yourself. There are always alternatives, so don’t lose hope!

3. Building a Support System to Help You Leave

Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult and scary. Having a strong support system will help give you the courage and means to get out. Surround yourself with people who love and care about you.

Talk to Close Friends and Family

Tell people you trust about the abuse. Ask them to keep your conversations confidential and not to confront your partner themselves. Let them know you need moral support and help making an exit plan. Ask if you can stay with them temporarily if you need to leave quickly.

Contact Local Abuse Shelters

Abuse shelters have counseling and legal services that can help you create a safety plan, secure emergency housing, and obtain a restraining order. Call or chat with them anonymously if you’re concerned about your privacy. They are there to provide you resources and help you find the strength within yourself.

Seek Counseling or Join a Support Group

Speaking with a counselor or others who have been in abusive relationships can help you work through your feelings, and give you strategies for leaving. A counselor can also refer you to other helpful services. Look for free or low-cost options in your area.

Have Cash Stashed Away

Start saving any money you can in a secret place in case you need to leave abruptly. Even small amounts can help pay for necessities like food, gas, or a hotel room until you get on your feet. Ask friends or family members if they would hold onto any valuables or important documents for you as well for safekeeping.

Make Your Safety a Priority

Leaving an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time. Have an exit plan in place, pack a bag in case you need to flee quickly. Let trusted others know of your plan and whereabouts. Change routines and routes to avoid being tracked or located easily. Your safety comes before any possession – be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. You deserve to feel secure and live free from fear. There are people here to help you.

4. Making a Safety Plan to Protect Yourself

Leaving an abusive relationship is difficult and dangerous. To protect yourself, create a safety plan in case you need to leave quickly.

Have a bag packed

Keep a bag packed with essentials like clothes, medications, important documents, cash, and a charger. Store it somewhere your partner won’t find it. That way you can grab it and go at a moment’s notice.

Establish a code word

Come up with a code word to alert friends and family that you need help. Let people you trust know the code word and what it means, so they can call emergency services if you use it.

Hide copies of keys

Make copies of keys for your home, car, and work and give them to people you trust. That way you have a backup in case your partner takes or hides your keys to prevent you from leaving.

Practice your escape route

Plan how you will physically leave the residence. Plot multiple escape routes in case some are blocked. Practice and rehearse these routes when your partner isn’t around so you feel confident using them in an emergency.

Call emergency services

Don’t hesitate to call 911 if you feel you are in immediate danger. Your safety is the top priority. Emergency responders are trained to handle domestic violence situations and can provide protection so you can leave.

Seek counseling and support groups

Speaking to a counselor or support group can help give you the courage and resources you need to leave an abusive relationship. They can also help keep you accountable to your safety plan and offer guidance for rebuilding your life after leaving.

Leaving may be difficult, but by putting a safety plan in place, you are preparing to take control of your situation. You deserve to feel safe and happy. There are people and resources to help you, so don’t lose hope!

5. Beginning the Journey to Heal and Recover

The first step to breaking free from abusive love is recognizing that you deserve so much better. You are worthy of real, healthy love – the kind that builds you up and makes you feel happy, supported and secure.

Believe in Yourself

After being in an abusive relationship, your self-esteem has likely taken a huge hit. Begin building yourself back up by reminding yourself of your strengths, talents, and accomplishments. Surround yourself with people who love and support you. Their positivity can help reframe the negative messages in your own head.

Set Boundaries

Establishing firm boundaries is key to avoiding future abuse. Decide what behavior you will and will not tolerate from others. Be prepared to enforce consequences when those boundaries are crossed. Start small by being assertive in lower-risk situations. Practice saying no, and mean it. As you gain confidence, you’ll get better at standing up for yourself when it really counts.

Seek Professional Help

The trauma from an abusive relationship can be difficult to overcome alone. Speaking to a counselor or therapist can help you work through feelings of shame, guilt, and low self-worth. They can also provide coping strategies and help you identify unhealthy patterns so you can build healthier relationships going forward. If needed, call emergency services or a domestic abuse helpline for additional support.

Surround Yourself

With A Strong Support System Connect with others who truly care about you – close friends and family members, or local support groups. Let them comfort you, cheer you on, and hold you accountable. Ask them to check-in on you regularly as you navigate this difficult recovery process. Their support can help lift you up during moments of self-doubt and discouragement.

The journey to heal will be challenging, but by believing in yourself, setting boundaries, seeking professional help and surrounding yourself with a strong support system, you will break free from abusive love and build a happy, healthy life. Stay committed to your recovery and know that you absolutely deserve to be in a nurturing relationship where you feel safe, respected and cared for.

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