Friday, July 19, 2019

Understanding emotional abuse and getting out of it. Part 5 "How to get out of an abusive relationship and get your mojo back."

Abused girl

This is the final post in a series of notes on how abusers work and how you can exit an abusive relationship. If you missed the others, the link at the end will lead you to the others.

Today we'll take a look at the question, "How to get out of an abusive relationship and get your mojo back."

Okay, straight off: leaving an abusive partner feels very scary. If they are violent, it can also be dangerous. Therefore, the first rule is STAY SAFE.

Everything you do, must be geared to keeping you safe. That means that the rules for breaking up with a normal partner don't apply. You won't be having breakup chats and you cannot be friends – ever.

Here is a series of steps to implement:

Get your support network in place. Exiting is best done with help. Make a list of everyone who will help you: family, friends, people at your temple or mosque. If your partner is violent, also call on police and NGOs dealing with domestic violence.

Make a solid plan that includes all the steps you will need to take: telling them it's over, moving out, getting your stuff etc. Go through every step, and anticipate what may happen.

Tip: plan for the worst. It may not happen, but it's best to be over-prepared. Note: this is where you can ask an NGO or therapist to help you. If you think your soon-to-be-ex will turn violent, visit the police and ask them for help.

When you are prepared, you can break up. It may seem cruel but you can't leave yourself open to abuse or violence. Break up over the phone or by email. If you must meet, do so in public and have physical support with you.

Abusers don't let go easily, so expect rage, emotional blackmail, threats etc. Don’t try to reason with your abuser. Just say/text once, "This relationship doesn't work for me. It's over." Then stop.

They will scream and issue threats, or try to get you to come back. Don't get sucked in. Do not respond. Block your ex on your phone and social media.

Alert your wider network. Warn extended family, casual friends, work colleagues, and the people in your building or regular haunts that you have an abusive ex.

NOTE: if you think your ex will bother you at work, inform HR and your boss. Do this in advance so that they are prepared. You need not go into detail. "I have ended a relationship with NAME. They are taking this badly, so I am taking pro-active steps. If they approach me here, will you please step in?"

Abusers don't like it when victims leave, so expect tantrums. If they come to the door, don't open it. If they approach you in public, ask the nearest person to help you go to the nearest police station. Do not engage. KEEP SAFE.

If your ex tries to leverage other people to force you into meetings or going back, be firm. "The relationship is over. For reasons I am not willing to discuss, I cannot be meet or be in contact with NAME. Please respect my wishes." If the busybodies push, block them too. Better to get rid of toxic types than end up in hospital.

You will have blocked your ex but should they contact you via email or letter and threaten you, keep copies. Show these to a lawyer or to the police. In most countries, sending threats via the post or internet is a criminal offense, so you can use that to keep your ex at bay.

It's scary but stick to your guns. Keep to your plan, do not engage. If it helps, try to imagine yourself as a rock – or a superhero who won't buckle under pressure. Freedom is yours, so go for it.

When you have escaped, you need time to heal. Typically, victims cycle through shock, guilt, denial, shame, and fear. At this point, you hold on to your support network. Accept that you are not responsible for other people's behaviour. You are not to blame. BREATHE.

Repeat these helpful affirmations:
I am a good person and I have the right to be happy.
I have a powerful core that's tougher than any bully!
I am choosing my path to happiness and freedom.

Also, sign up for regular therapy for a few weeks. It will help you talk things out and remove that mental fog we talked about earlier. There are lots of avenues for help, from paid people like me to NGOs. So, pick a support system that suits you and know you're not alone.

Now, to get your mojo back. Whatever you do, don't date for a while. Being a victim of abuse really messes with your mind.

Work out, eat well, sleep well, do happy things for yourself and connect in healthy ways to sane people. Rebuild your life. Focus on joy and affirmation.

Note: Image by cocoparisienne