Why is it So Hard To Leave an Abusive Relationship?
One of the major concerns when it comes to mental, emotional, and physical safety is intimate partner violence or domestic violence. When you hear someone being in an abusive relationship, you might wonder, “Why?”, why are they in the relationship if their partner is abusive?
However, when you look at it, it’s not easy to leave an abusive relationship and move on while keeping one’s mental and emotional health or sense of safety intact.
It’s hard to leave an abusive relationship. The idea of stepping away from a partner who’s used to violence is hard, scary, and frankly, overwhelming. It’s not like the one being abused doesn’t want to leave, but it’s just not that simple. They might have even tried, several times, to step away from the abusive relationship before they finally managed to leave.
If you or a loved one have been in an abusive relationship, and if you’ve been wondering, “Why is it so hard to leave an abusive relationship?” then this article explores the reasons why you can’t leave an abusive relationship and the steps you can take to leave an abusive relationship, safely.
Why is it so Hard to Leave an Abusive Relationship?
Some common reasons why one hesitates to leave an abusive relationship can include;
1. Hope for a better future:
You may still believe that your abusive partner might change their behavior and that things will eventually get better. Your partner may also have “promised” to change, fueling the hope for a better relationship in the long run. Things might even change for some time, but then the cycle of abuse may begin again.
2. Experiencing dissociation:
If you’ve been subjected to abuse and trauma for a long time then you may experience dissociation where you feel numb to whatever’s happening around you. This can make it harder to respond to the trauma and abuse, leaving you wondering about the relationship.
One of the manipulation tactics that abusers use is gaslighting. This tactic may leave you feeling confused and make you question your reality, wondering if you are alone and responsible for the abuse you’re experiencing. This may also make you feel helpless and powerless to change the status quo.
4. Poor health conditions:
If you’ve suffered or struggled with poor health – injuries or disorders – then it could also make it harder for you to leave an abusive relationship.
5. Feeling isolated from your support system:
Another common tactic that abusers use to control the other partner is isolation. They isolate their partners from their support system, making them feel that they have no support or somewhere to go if they choose to leave the abusive relationship.
6. Children in the relationship:
If there are children born in an abusive relationship, then it can also be a common reason why you find it hard to leave an abusive relationship. Co-parenting can become difficult when you choose to walk away from the relationship and the idea of disrupting the children’s lives can make it harder for someone to leave the abusive relationship.
7. Financial dependency:
If you are financially dependent on your abuser or if your independent account is under your abuser’s control, then it could also be a reason why you find it hard to leave an abusive relationship. You may feel that if you leave the relationship, you won’t have financial ways to support yourself.
8. Threats in the relationship:
Abusers may also threaten their partner with physical violence if they try to leave an abusive relationship. This threat can also extend to the partner’s family, pets, children, or friends. To stay safe (at least physically and keep their loved ones safe) can make it hard for someone to leave an abusive relationship.
9. Not understanding the abuse:
Another reason why it is so hard to leave an abusive relationship can be the inability to understand the signs of abuse. If the abuse is subtle, then it could be harder for one to see the signs and take them as a red flag or warning to leave the relationship.
10. Pressure from society:
More often than not, the pressure from society to maintain a relationship no matter the issues can also make it hard for someone to leave an abusive relationship. Divorce and separation are often considered social stigmas in many cultures so the pressure to keep up the image can leave one feeling stuck in an abusive relationship with no way out.
11. Ashamed of admitting to abuse:
If someone is ashamed to admit to the abuse then it could also make it hard for them to leave the abusive relationship. Victims of abuse often feel blamed for the abuse even if it isn’t their fault. This kind of blaming does not help and makes it hard for one to leave an abusive and toxic relationship.
12. Legal issues:
If you gain the courage to leave an abusive relationship and decide to ask for legal help, there’s a chance that authorities may dismiss your concerns as a domestic argument or “family matter”. Being legally compromised can make it harder for you to ask for help. Legal issues may also include false accusations, false complaints, etc. that could put your economic safety at risk.
6 Steps to Leave an Abusive Relationship
If you’re worried about leaving an abusive relationship, here are 6 steps that you can take to leave the relationship and move on, safely;
1. Have a safety plan
Having a safety plan is very important. This plan can help you figure out what actions you can take to reduce your risk of harm during the confrontation or breakup.
This safety plan can include the contact information for a shelter or a support person, items to take with you when you leave, steps to take to protect yourself or your loved ones, steps to navigate different situations with the partner, etc.
You can also reach out to a local shelter and ask for their help in making a safety plan. A safety plan gives you the confidence and courage to stand up and leave an abusive relationship.
2. Reach out to your safety network
To avoid going back to the abusive relationship, you need to reach out to your support safety network. This network could consist of your friends and family who are constantly apprised of your reasons for leaving an abusive relationship. This step also assures that you don’t feel isolated during, and after you leave your abusive relationship.
3. Keep your reasons in mind
When you miss your partner or feel guilty for leaving the relationship, you need to remind yourself of the reasons you left the abusive relationship in the first place. You need to remind yourself that while there were good times, there were also times when the bad times overpowered the good ones.
You can remind yourself that you deserve a healthy and happy relationship by writing a note. List the reasons why you left the relationship and why it was important to leave an abusive relationship.
4. Your safety comes first
Again, if you begin to feel guilty for leaving the abusive relationship, you need to remind yourself that your safety matters and comes first. Your feelings matter too, and you deserve to put your well-being before anything else. Remember that you are making a choice for yourself, and you decide to choose a healthy and happy life.
Prioritize your growth and development rather than that of the relationship. You can try practicing self-care during this period and give yourself patience, kindness, and time for healing.
5. Trust your instincts
Trust your instincts, no matter what! If something feels wrong about the relationship, then listen to your gut and follow it. Your intuition can be your superpower during these moments so do not ignore it. Trust that you know what you’re doing and it’s the right thing to do.
You need to resolve your heart and mind to leave the relationship, and you’ll be successful only when you are truly ready for it.
6. Seek professional help
Couples counseling might not work in abusive relationships, but seeking one-on-one therapy can help. You can learn to set strong boundaries, improve communication in the relationship, and even understand the power dynamics in the relationship. A professional therapist can help you build on your coping skills and give you safety tips as well.
In therapy, you can also understand the signs of abuse and manipulation that might or might not be there in your relationship. If your therapist deems that you’re in danger, then they can help you reach out to a shelter and even help you make a safety plan.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship then you need to understand that it’s not easy to leave an abusive relationship. Walking away from an abusive partner is a complicated process that can take months and even years.
Having a safety plan, a support network and the right tools to protect yourself from danger can be the initial steps in leaving an abusive relationship.
If you or your loved one is in danger or experiencing domestic violence, then you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1800-799-7233, or text “START” at 88788.
If you’re having suicidal thoughts or thinking about self-harm, then you can connect with National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988.
I hope this blog helped you understand why it is so hard to leave an abusive relationship and what you can do. For more, you can write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on social media. You can also comment in the section below with your thoughts.
Take care and stay safe!