Escaping Abusive Relationships: Therapists Keep This Quiet

April 9, 2015 Kellie Jo Holly

The aftermath of escaping abusive relationships is an emotional minefield many aren't prepared for. I can help you avoid some of those mines. Read this.

Escaping abusive relationships involves more than the escape plan, and you won't know the depth of your problems until you break free. But, as you plan your escape, it often feels as if getting out of the abuse will make everything better. And once you get out, you will have well-deserved stages of bliss - you will often feel much better! But at first, as often as you feel better, you will feel worse or confused or doubtful of your ability to create a life of your own. The aftermath of escaping abusive relationships is an emotional minefield that therapists won't warn you about. I can help you avoid some of those mines.


First of all, your therapist does not want to deter you from planning to escape or escaping abusive relationships. They know that after you leave, you will gain your mental footing and you will become emotionally and mentally healthy. Secondly, therapists aren't psychics. There's no guarantee that you will experience even one scary emotion after leaving abuse. You could be the exception, blossom immediately and maintain that bloom for the rest of your life!

But reality says you'll experience emotions similar to many other survivors of domestic abuse, so I want to give you a heads up on some confusing emotions you may encounter after escaping. If you know your strange emotions are normal, then you're more likely to sail through them without returning to your abuser.

Escaping Abusive Relationships: The Other 3 Things Your Therapist Won't Tell You

For numbers 1 and 2, see Part I, Escaping Abuse: 5 Things Your Therapist Won't Tell You

3.) You could feel an overwhelming desire to speak well of your partner to your friends, no matter what he or she did to you.

Escaping abuse is the first and most important thing you can do for your mental health. Find out what you could experience after you leave.How did you make up for the things your abuser said you did wrong during the relationship? You somehow soothed your ex-partner's ego, got them to calm down, apologized, or perhaps purposefully let them overhear you speak well of them to others. Old habits die hard. You know your partner feels angry with you for leaving them. You know they want to react in their typical way. Calming his or her ego was priority number one during the cycle of violence, so don't be surprised to hear yourself say things that remind you of your ex's better qualities (real or imagined).

Additionally, you could feel compelled to say good things about your ex out of guilt.

4.) You could feel incredibly guilty for leaving your abuser for any number of reasons.

Your logical mind knows that you have no reason to feel guilty. The abuse wasn't your fault, you didn't cause it and you couldn't stop it. But holy cow! Your heart bleeds for the person you left! He never had a good example of how a man should act. She fell victim to a sexual predator during her formative years. You feel sorry for them.

I challenge you to re-channel any guilty feelings about leaving to how you feel about your partner's behavior toward you. One of the side-effects of abuse is forgetting to pay attention to your feelings. You feel guilty because you're imagining what your ex might feel, not because you did something wrong. When you start feeling guilty or hear yourself giving your ex a glowing review, get in tune with your emotions and leave what your ex could be feeling alone.

5.) You could find yourself mourning the death of the abusive relationship.

I know you don't want to feel like a victim anymore. You're a survivor and you escaped abuse. But you must allow yourself to mourn the death of the relationship, and more than likely, you will feel intense loss and sadness. For me, I discovered that I didn't so much need to mourn the marriage I had as the marriage I wished I had. The dream of growing old with the man who finally learned to love completely was very difficult to let go.

When the sadness overwhelmed me, I let myself cry and be angry; but I reminded myself that I mourned for something I would never have and that escaping my abusive relationship was the best thing I could have done. And it was.

As you prepare for escaping your abusive relationship (or imagine what leaving would feel like), I hope you look at your possible future emotions as a rite of passage. No matter how horrible you may feel during recovery, escaping abusive relationships is the only way to guarantee your mental and emotional health will improve. Expect the unexpected, including the urge to return to the abuser, and talk your way through it with your friends and a therapist.

Although your therapist didn't give you a heads up about how hard it would be to stay gone after escaping your abusive relationship, he or she will definitely be by your side as your story unfolds. A therapist's job is not to guess what you might feel, but to help you deal with what you do feel. And you won't know what you will feel for sure until you leave.

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APA Reference
Jo, K. (2015, April 9). Escaping Abusive Relationships: Therapists Keep This Quiet, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 25 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

April, 12 2015 at 8:00 am

leaving my ex was the worst thing i EVER did.. i should never have bought into all the nonsense.. at least i knew what i was in for, i had money, a nice home and stability for my kids... now i have nothing.. they dont tell you that YOU are the one who ends up with nothing. I wish i could go back but hes got someone new now and im on my own

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 12 2015 at 12:20 pm

I hear it Nicky. It's been a tough 5 years for me financially. Despite alimony for three years and a decent settlement, I spent two years in school and STILL didn't have what it took to get a well-paying job. After 18 years at home with the kids, I had no work experience at all. Last summer I spent time homeless, living in a tent and bathing behind the only church in town that didn't padlock its exterior water faucet.
People say women profit in a divorce, but it just isn't true. At least not for the middle class.
But there is where our paths differ. I would rather eat dirt in the park than ever go back to my ex. Thinking of living with a man who disrespects me again is like poison. I won't consider it. Give yourself some time. Remember that his new woman gets the same treatment you did no matter what it looks like from the outside. Be strong for your children - show them that you are capable to get through this hard time. Eventually, someone new will come along. In the meantime, make sure you know the red flags to look for so you can avoid another abuser.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 21 2018 at 10:24 am

The financial aspect is just one form of the demoralization and subversion process. Too many women fall victim to that trap. It literally costs more money to be a woman, CBC marketplace exposed that in detail. Sometimes if it is bad enough it's wise to make a conscious decision to sacrifice. Even if women get equal pay the circumstances are still not equal. The more that women wise up to this and take action, the less power we can let the ungrateful dirt bags take from us. Being on your own can be a great opportunity to know yourself. I hope you choose to allow yourself to grow from it all.

April, 13 2015 at 6:51 am

Nicky, I hear you. I feel your pain. It has been pure hell since leaving my abuser. It has been lonely and rough financially. I lost a lot of "friends" and a damn good job. I even "lost" custody of my kids. I lost a home and most of belongings. It's been a few years for me since leaving. And I'm still "recovering". It is NOT easy, and definitely not like you see in the movies when a someone leaves an abusive partner.
But you know what I didn't lose? ME. If I had stayed, I'm pretty certain that the world, my children and anyone else who needed me would have lost me , for good. I was suicidal and I'm certain that of I had stayed with him, I would have ended my life before he could.
I chose to live. I found me. I found strength and a new support system. I found a part of me that had long been lost. And my relationship to my children is much stronger and I'm a better parent now. Sure, it's hard. Damn hard. But I truly believe if you can make the break to freedom from abuse, you CAN survive and overcome.
Don't give up hope, Nicky. You've got you. :)

April, 14 2015 at 2:20 pm

imagine dating a malignant narcissist sadist.i am and don't know how to leave him or want to sometimes. sometimes im strong enough to leave and other times im too weak .I go between disliking him and feeling sorry for him. does anyone have answer for that..

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 19 2015 at 3:35 am

Go when you are strong. Dislike and feeling sorry are NOT opposite feelings. The opposite of dislike is to like - doesn't sound like feeling sorry for him is "liking" him. You do not have to stay when you feel sorry for someone. The narcissist wants his feelings to be above yours, and he's getting his way. At the bottom of this page you can download a safety plan (free) that will help you plan what to do.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 11 2017 at 9:38 am

I was in that situation, only he was physical and verbally abusive. I stayed far too long. Even after leaving I went back, shot our youngest is only 3 months and I walked away again at 17 weeks pregnant. A narc is only for themselves and you are merely their drug of choice at that moment, they will use anyone to supply their need. You are an interchangeable part. I don't know if that knowledge helps you any, but it sure freed me from staying longer. He could get his fox from any of the other 5 girls he was with. My son is 3 months and I've been free for good for around 7 months. I've just started wearing make up again, after 6 years of not wearing it. I've gotten my hair cut and I've started to feel like I used to. No, not every day, but it's the little victories. I'm no longer huddled in my bathroom on the floor vomiting from fear of what he's going to do to me. I'm not walking up at 3am so scared of a noise thinking this is it he's here and my time is up. I live hours away and I'm healing. It's slow. I don't get up feeling free daily, but this past week I did for two days and that's so much of a win that I have hope that some day it will be everyday. I still get scared, that word could never have covered the amount of terror I used to feel. The obsession, I still have that, I still have days where I change 10+ times cause he wouldn't approve or even foods I love but can't make cause in my head they'll earn my certain punishments cause "I know better". But those two days last week? Those two days have me feeling like some day, some way I will be that fierce amazing woman I was, my family tells me about that woman I was all the time and encourage me daily to find her. She's in there, ready to tackle this life and those two days I could feel her looking up from the deep dark place I put her. I'm not her yet, but when I grow into her again I'll be even stronger than she was cause of this. I have hope. I also have proof, even living impoverished with my children no longer wearing name brand, no longer playing on tablets, or having a giant play set in the yard, they smile more. Oldest tells me she misses having wifi, but that she's happier. That is reason enough to keep turning him away when he asks. I have to co-parent with him, but I don't have to put up with the rest of him.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

October, 8 2018 at 1:34 pm

This sound just like my situation. Thank you for sharing I am in the process of getting out of this marriage. The problem is that i am not financially stable so its hard. i have had enough and im ready to escape.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 29 2018 at 2:04 am

You are dating the same man as many of us. The blamestormers, the fit throwers, the threateners, chasers, belittlers, beraters, snapping, mood swing whacko psychotic mentally unstable ego driven hateful controlling MAN ***** that they are. RUN!

April, 17 2015 at 4:13 pm

I am very confused. I've been told what I have and am experiencing is verbal abuse..... But all of my life this has been the norm - one way or another. Aren't I just supposed to suck it up?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 19 2015 at 3:15 am

So long as there are abusers in your life, they do expect you to suck it up. No, you do not have to do that. I think you know that already <3
Normal is not necessarily right. Normal can change, but you must be the agent of change. Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or (1-800-787-3224 if you’re hearing impaired). Their website is at and offers a chat service.

April, 18 2015 at 4:37 pm

Hearing what has been written is honestly making all this more difficult. My husband knows how to "torn on the charm" & make things appear very differently when others are around even when it's just the two of us & I'm crying b/c I'm afraid, typically after he's hurt me either officially or emotionally, he will come to me and ask what's wrong, like he didn't have a clue as to what just happened. Then when I tell him that he hurt me, he "claims" it was self defense. He has been gaslighting me for years. He has been the cause I'd me losing every1 friend & even family that loved me to think the worst of me. He has me stuck in a corner b/c I have NO SUPPORT!! I have no clue how I can make it on my own, but I also know, if I don't leave, there's a good chance that things could be much worse. I feel so alone.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 19 2015 at 3:05 am

Susan, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or (1-800-787-3224 if you’re hearing impaired). Their website is at and offers a chat service. The hotline is really the best place to get started when you need help for domestic abuse or domestic violence.
The hotline can put you in touch with groups and organizations local to you and you can begin to build a new support system. It is very important that you reach out for help to strangers (just like you did with this comment). Unfortunately, the kind of help you need must come from people trained to assist you. The Hotline is your best starting point.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

May, 12 2018 at 3:23 pm

Just leave Susan, find your inner self and love yourself.. You can do it please be strong! I recently lost my gf of 4 years because I was a complete idiot I’ll admit it to the world now, I was too ashamed to before. But I myself was and who knows I’m trying to stay strong and change still am that way like your husband “a charmer” I would grab up on my girl and let my emotions get the best of me. I have always had anger issues since I was a little girl. My dad was a verbal abuser he still is till this day. I hated him for the way he treated my mom and there was a part of me that hated my mom for staying with someone like that. Once in a blue he would hit her but as my older sister and I grew up we didn’t tolerate it and hit him back. Sure enough he stopped being physically abusive but never and I mean never changed being verbally abusive and guess what? My mom is now 65 and still is with him even though they’re separated they’re legally married and I never understood why and she doesn’t either. I’ve always tried to make sense of it all, was it because he was good with paperwork? Bills? Did she stay with him for us? Even though we would’ve probably been better off without him. She was a hard worker and hard working mom I love her to death. But anyway back to me I was an idiot, deep down inside I have unresolved anger and never bothered to seek help. I hid it from everyone but eventually would break. I would treat people like shit and that was only towards nice people. I’ve made plenty of girls sad. I was riddled with guilt with my first online gf for talking to her like shit at times but then would apologize as if I knew what I was doing was messed up but never understood why I fell into the same pattern. Was it because she was an easy target to let out my anger on even though she was there for me in my time of need? I’m thinking now that I’m 28 this was when I was 16-20 mind you that I talked to her online. I never really had control over my life my at home situations so maybe for me it is easier to control someone else??? Why take advantage of that? You ladies and this is coming from a lady, deserve so much more! I then spent 5 single after she deleted all of her accounts and I knew nothing of her since. It was a roller coaster of emotions then I found someone else. She was different, even more loving than the last. After 2 years she moved to be with me. I changed when I didn’t even know why. There were times where she would catch an attitude and it sparked something in me. Sometimes I’d argue back or just walk away. It got to a point where I let certain insults slip. Going back on my pattern and not caring if I hurt her feelings. It was like I would turn into something unwillingly and then when I noticed I was in too deep, acknowledgment of my actions kicked in and I couldn’t get out of it. It’s like I accepted it. Then later on that’s when physical violence came in. Sadly I became the person I hated (my dad) he is bi polar and perhaps that’s what I have because sometimes my ex would tell me I would say things and I literally would not remember. I hit her at times or grabbed her and she would cry and tell me “don’t hit me” or “why are you doing this?” for some reason I felt nothing at that moment and afterward I would cry so hard and sometimes I felt suicidal. But! In those moments I was more scared to get caught then I was scared of my actions. It’s a horrible thing and I’m not telling you this to feel sympathetic towards abusers or anything of that nature. Like I said now that she is gone I’m riddled with guilt. It’s eating at me but I’m coming to terms with it and I have opened my eyes. I’ve been reading these types of forums to get a better understanding on both sides of the plate. A part of me is sad that she’s gone and she tells me she doesn’t trust that i will change because I’ve said sorry countless times and repeated those actions. I don’t blame her, I sometimes don’t trust myself. But then I’m scared because a part of me is angry that she left, why? Because I lost control over something I felt I had control over? I hope it’s not that. I can’t come to a conclusion ever and I asked her the same thing I’ve asked my mom all of these years. Why did you stay with me??? Why did my mom stay with my dad??? I’m a broken person for sure and I will be seeking help because I know I lost something important in my life. But at the same time I’m forcing myself to let her go. I want her to be happy because what we had was so unhealthy. I hope I find myself and my self happiness, I would tell her all the time idk how to make you happy since I don’t know how to make myself happy. I hope she finds her happiness too. I hope you all do and thank you for taking the time to read this if you do. Good luck ladies.

April, 19 2015 at 3:29 am

All I can say is I've been through it and it hurt like hell. But I really believe everything does happen for a reason. It all makes us stronger for what's to come next. Women are the strongest, most resilient creatures, on this plant.

April, 19 2015 at 4:13 pm

Hmmm.... I simpy feel that there are many out there that need help more than I. I need to suck it up. I feel badly fir wasting peopmes time. i can fight if need be. Police can "only operate wi confines of the law" so they have said. Police involvement several times a week.... Setting up hunting cams.... Air horn I've already discharged once. Police have told me not to engage the "suspect".
There is a quick exit plan in place. But I am frustrated w the system, it shouldn't have to be like this. I am very lucky to have a great support network of friends.....
Any advice?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

September, 21 2018 at 11:13 am

I cannot advise you, but I can tell you what I went through. Victims Services hears the same stories every single day about how frustrated people are with the system. Personally, I gave up on thinking that the system will work. I personally have made the choice to focus on me. The problem is perpetuated by the very system itself. You can survive the abuse, and then for some reason you are the one in mental health, probably with a label that will be used against you later while nobody bothers the aggressor about their mental health issues. This whole process is now being exploited in the family courts and it really needs to change. If you have a great network of friends you have survived the social life attack stage and are ahead of the game. If you continue to call police it will just result in more retaliation and you may be compromising your credibility. I went to the extent of
learning the tactics,
getting educated in the ways of conflict management and self defense after first taking lifesaving,
cutting toxic people out of my life,
getting creative after having obtained said knowledge,
studying at least basic survival so that when issues arose I could say fine, parting with everything I owned more than once
staying out of relationships for at least 2 years in an effort to work on myself,
and i can assure you that merely upsets dominant aggressive individuals even more.
Men in some ways are typically more strategic and tactical, unfortunately in some cases they are nothing more than a Nemisis in a war of the roses. Clear discussions need to be had about all the ways in which women are subdued and the system itself abused across the board. It is a very real problem.
Study the stages of demoralization and subversion and you will see how men are able to play the system against women so easily. It's literally political warfare tactics. Frustrating as hell. I have found several instances of slipping things into the record that causes things to go poorly as a result of misinformation. People only act based on the information that is provided to them. Police have a mandate and only act based on the information that is provided to them. As far as they are concerned you may just have depression or anxiety like every single female in these situations apparently does. The more independent and the more capable you are on your own the more the problems will increase. I am under the impression that it is an attack on the independence of women.
I have chosen the ordeal to be a learning experience and opportunity for personal growth. Unfortunately, that comes at a price. The price is always higher for a woman than it is for a man. I have to tell myself everyday that there is no such thing as a mistake, there is only learning. I follow that up with a daily reminder that I am still learning to keep the ego in check. The worst thing you can do is take it out on an individual officer who has no idea as to what is really going on. Their jobs are complicated and half the time they can't investigate what they know they need to for reasons we may not understand. You may need to go to the extent of hiring a private investigator to document what is going on. Most of them will respect the rules of investigation, those are the ones you want.

April, 26 2015 at 9:31 am

These blog entries have been so helpful....I am in the process of leaving my husband of 3 years, who has been emotionally and verbally abusive for the last 2 1/2 years. I filed for divorce just over a week ago and his reaction was not what I was expecting at all. Rather than responding in anger (I called him from my parents' house to tell him because I was too afraid that he might abuse me physically if I told him in person....we also have two toddlers, whom I wanted out of harm's way) he begged, pleaded, admitted to his alcoholism (other issue), started going to AA and is insisting that he's changing and that we can "work things out." I am back in the house w/ him bc of financial issues (and he hasn't physically attacked me so I don't have a "real" reason to have him removed) and he keeps trying to act like life is normal, is being all sweet to "show me" that he's changed. I can't help but feel like it's all manipulation to get me to change my mind, yet as I live in this suddenly peaceful house I am starting to wonder if I am the crazy one and should just forgive him and move on. Yet experience has shown me that every time I forgive we eventually get back into our sick dynamic (though everything looks fine to the outside world). Ugh....I'm just so confused right now. I feel like I'm doing the right thing getting out but am disgusted with myself at the same time for not being able to let it go and be happy for his "changes"....
Any thoughts? Could my husband's actions be part of the cycle? Any advice on how to encourage the positive changes w/o giving false hope that we can "save" our "marriage"? Or on keeping my sanity during this time of limbo?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 27 2015 at 5:08 am

Unless your husband goes to therapy or a batterer's program on his own, then he is manipulating you with false hope. Even if he DOES go to AA or one of the other programs I mentioned, there is no time limit on how long he can "act" like a new man.
As for the (false) positive changes you see, either don't comment or tell him something like, "I appreciate that you ___________________." That's it. If you do NOT gush and gloat over him (or NOT do whatever you usually do during these honeymoon times), then he will get confused because his "goodness" isn't working the same. He will get frustrated and the real man will reappear.
Remember, what you see right now is the mask. Keep your distance.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

April, 6 2017 at 11:02 am

The same thing happened to me, but I refused to pretend I was all in love and had forgiven him. I stayed distant, but not unkind, and waited. It's been nearly two years since he swore he'd change, and he's only substituted daily anger, put downs and silent treatments for monthly raging outbursts where he curses at me, twists my mind, tells me how many people think I'm awful, etc. Then he "apologizes," showers me with gifts and compliments, coerces me to "rest" while he does all the childcare and housework, etc. From the outside, everyone thinks he's so much better (it took my friends and sisters telling me that he was abusive for me to see that his previous behavior wasn't my fault!), but I know it's not, it's just different. In fact, it's even worse in some ways because I feel even more unstable, confused, and twisted. I've told him I want a divorce, I've started sleeping in a separate room, and I'm getting better about setting boundaries. So far he's been pretty respectful, but I know it won't last, unless he starts making real changes for himself. I think he wants to be better, for our kids (our oldest is 6 and is starting to behave VERY much like his dad), so I do believe he can change, if he commits to it. But I can't stay any more. I have nightmares his verbal and emotional abuse turns physical, I have zero attraction to him, and I'm just way beyond done. I need to protect myself and my children now. I wish him luck, I hope he can figure himself out and fix his sickness, but it's not my problem anymore. Remember ladies, when they start guilting you into staying, promising change, saying how much they love you and how much it will hurt when you go, how your distance is disrespectful, your lack of affection is unkind, REMEMBER: "Protecting yourself is NOT the same thing as hurting someone else." Good luck to everyone dealing with this. I know I've still got long road ahead of me, but I'm worth more, and just bc it's "normal" or "common" doesn't make it right, and you can choose to live and live differently.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 16 2018 at 1:57 pm

This is exactly how my SO is. Compliments me, showers me with gifts. His gifts and compliments mean nothing to me anymore. He says I don't appreciate anything. How can I when my soul is destroyed?

April, 27 2015 at 4:36 am

I am getting divorced, it has been two and a half years. I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. Not the name calling kind. He ignored me, and if I said that I wanted to spend time with him he said he never met someone so needy. He let his mother control our lives. Towards the end of my 20 year marriage I went online and met someone else, I wanted to get out of the marriage but I thought I could not do it alone. I met someone who was kind and loving and everything I dreamed of in a man. But he had no license he had a DUI, he had been in jail for it, he just got a restraining order on him for phone harrasment, had no job and lived at home with his mother. I was so lonely and unloved, and very suicidal - I thought he was a breath of fresh air and believed every thing he said. We had a great relationship at first. Then he started getting verbally abusive, so I would hang up on him. He would call me over and over again. Last week I saw 93 missed calls. He left me horrendous messages. Threatenin to go to my soon to be exes house or show up at mine, and shout so much I would get kicked out of my rental. Then he calls back saying he is sorry and ashamed, that my childish behavior makes him like that. Having no job or license, and health issues make him angry. That my ignoring him makes him so angry and that is why he is the way he is. I am confused, scared, and I love him. My three children live with their father, as he has no job and rich family. My children are so angry and hurt. I thought I did what was best for them, as I needed to heal. Now I am in this emotionally abusive relationship, and my children hate me for being with this man. I would have divorced their father even if I had not met this man. They don't believe that though. I feel that if I don't make this relationsjop work, then I failed myself and my children. I keep on staying in these awful relationships.

April, 29 2015 at 7:58 am

I suggest you keep ongoing. I stayed with my husband through his sobriety and it has been sheer hell. While I am grateful he is sober, the first year of his sobriety was a nightmare. Now 5 years later, he is sober, yes, but emotionally bankrupt and not willing to get any better. I have allowed myself to be controlled and verbally abused by him to the point where I have retaliated and also abuse him (e.g. name calling, screaming, etc). He says he want to get better (sound familiar?) but does absolutely nothing different to change his behavior or learn new skills. I am trying to focus on my codependency and move on. If I could change one thing it would have been to have left a long time ago.

May, 21 2015 at 6:01 am

Hi Kellie,
Just checking back in to say you were I knew you were. He showed his true colors again for about 3 days (doing the intimidating silent treatment thing, which is his MO....and which is also just up to the line where I can't really call him abusive....), but now is back to being "Mr. Wonderful" (without apologizing, of course, b/c he had just "hit a low point"....the silence and critical texts weren't hurtful at all :-P) I keep trying to remind myself that I know what it's like to be married to him, and to just keep my eyes on the goal.....can't wait for it to be over, though.

July, 4 2015 at 4:09 am

I just want to say thanks! I'm reading all of this and scared to death right now. I have been in a anusive marriage for 20 years and I just can't take it any more. As I write this he is upstairs packing stuff and selling stuff and saying that he is leaving. I am a stay at home wife and I know that I'm about to lose everything financially. I'm scared to death! I feel so lost right now. I'm trying to use your pages to help me get through this. Wish me luck:(

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
July, 4 2015 at 4:15 am

I was a stay-at-home too. It is tough financially, but the chances that you'll lose everything is slim.
Things you can do:
Get your purse, keys, and whatever else you usually take together and put in a safe place by a door you can get to easily
Leave the house (with the kids)
Call the police
Call a friend to come over
Go visit the neighbor

December, 1 2015 at 11:55 pm

I would like to thank everyone who has posted. It makes me - and I am sure others - not feel so alone. Our stories are so similar in many ways. It is some time since I left my emotionally, psychologically and verbally abusive relationship. Yet I still have PTSD. This is compounded by the fact that I was not believed by the therapist we saw and my ex-partner was. Has anyone else had this experience? It has been as devastating to me as the actual abuse. Of course being told he was not abusive - I was gaslighted relentlessly, subjected to the silent treatment frequently, he would fly into rages and threaten suicide - he was essentially given free reign to continue the abuse. It was like stepping from one nightmare into another. I wanted to post this just in case there is anyone else out there with a similar experience in the hope they will not feel so alone.

December, 19 2015 at 11:19 am

An option to leaving an abusive relationship is to learn tactics to challenge, block, deflect or reduce the impact of abuse. De-escalation works to prevent increasing the violence. Agree to block the power struggle, walk away rather than fight back, listen and relect the thoughts and feelings of the upset person. Active listening and remaining calm are vital. If the level of violence threatens physical harm try to diffuse tension, escape to somewhere safe, use self defence or get help or give what they want to survive. Many of these comments refer to emotional or verbal abuse that can often be resolved through assertion or setting clear limits and consequences.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 8 2018 at 1:54 pm


January, 1 2016 at 7:51 am

I have escaped 10 years of emotional, physical, verbal, financial abuse. I wouldn't recommend anyone stay in this type of relationship. I tried to leave about 6 times, and I fell for the "honeymoon Phase" the Charm. They quickly go back to the abusive ways. I am a way better mother now then I could have been living in so much chaos. There is never a happy moment with this type of person, they ruin everything they ruin friendships family, family outings. I got to the point I didn't want to go nowhere or do anything because he would embarrass or belittle me. I went to work and came home that was it. We slept in separate bedrooms for the past five years, he would only come in when he wanted sex. I felt so used and not attractive I never wanted to have sex. I would only give in to avoid him breaking my things or putting holes in the walls. I could go on for pages and pages of things that have happened in 10 years. Im exhausted I left in late september 2015 its now January 2016 . I'm living with my 2 children and my parents and I had to leave everything I owned other then a closet full of my clothes, he wouldn't allow me to take anything more then that. I had to buy my childrens clothes all over again they had no toys or nothing. We are still going to court right now and its just never ending. He has been using Methamphetamine and marajuana for years. I have a fulltime job and custody of both of my children, and the smile that i'm able to put on my face when I wake up everyday feels amazing and so real. Even though I'm going through all this legal matters, to escape from someone hurting my feelings and scaring everyday is more then I could ever ask for. The changes that Im seeing in my childrens behaviors is even more amazing. I may only have clothes and my vehicle, but material items don't mean squat to having me and my children in a safe place. There is plenty of places that help mothers and children if you don't have a support system. My area had the Family Crisis Center and thats where they helped me get my Temporary restraining order and If I needed a place to stay they could of provided this. Get out get help. I threw away 10 years of my life, and have to live with this everyday. I am trying to heal from all the verbal abuse and get my confidence back. Its not easy but, easier then living with abuse.

January, 15 2016 at 7:31 am

Are you insane? Your describing how to deal with behaviorally challenged children or maybe prisoners. "Give what they want to stay safe" ?! Are you an abuser? That's what you sound like - or you really are clueless. These commenters are not going to type a full 1 hr therapy session's worth of psychological evidence to prove to you what REAL abuse they are living. The ONLY person who could respond the way you are describing is someone who wouldn't stay in an abusive relationship to begin with. Abusers start their manipulation subtly, psychologically, usually the signs are only seen when looking back into the past over the relationship after an explosive event. Unless you have been trained to spot these psychological predetors, like a hunter hunting another hunter. As a child warrior (I don't like the word survivor anymore) of an manipulative relationship I came away with these skills. I saw the legal system give no victory or redemption to my mom, she left so many times I can't count them all. Thank God he was not my dad and he fathered no kids with her. She was a broken person for years after the final break up. And it has reformed her personality-like he broke her a rebuilt her into his image of a woman. BUT she has overcome, she fought for her FREEDOM and won.
If I can have people who've been abused cling on to one thing it's this
Remember the price that has been paid and that YOU are paying for your FREEDOM. You are a prisoner of war. Even when you leave your captor, you are still in enemy country -the legal system (not justice system). You still have to fight. And you will. Because you have been fighting this whole time. You are not a survivor. YOU ARE A F*CKING WARRIOR!
(Thanks Facebook user "the naughty good girl" for sharing that phrase!)
See this article,…
(I haven't finished this article, written in 1998, but it has opened my eyes so much. I hope it can help others prepare when facing their abuser in the legal system)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 8 2019 at 1:05 am

His post is shocking, yes, but he gave tips for survival. Most women killed in the world are killed by their abusive partners, so ignore you’re living with an abuser, who by the way doesn’t really care about right or wrong, you better learn how to brace into the hellish life and keep damage to the minimum until you get out of there safe, sane and alive. If you expect talking an abuser out of his sadistic behavior, psychotic manipulation and guilt him up for what he does, you’re wasting your time and energy, because as you’re speaking to him, all he hears is noise. And if you think by fighting back you’re defending yourself, no, You’re just engaging him and giving him what he wants so bad, and what starts with verbal abuse, can quickly become physical before you know it. Make staying safe a priority, be smart and crafty and have wit with this kind of human waste until you leave.

March, 15 2016 at 5:44 am

Thanks it is tomuch

Jahnai Cain
March, 29 2016 at 9:03 pm

I need advice I'm 22 and been married since 19. I've had three kids byhim that are 3,2,1 and he's went from being physical to emotionally abusive. The last thing he said to me cut me deep to where i snapped and broke a window. He had me arrested and i spent two months in jail and dealt with him torturing by using my kids because he knew i couldn't touch them and watch them grow. I got out after case was threw out but i didn't feel safe. I wanted to take the kids and leave but i needed to get on my feet. I use to be able to see them and talk to them. He'd bring them to visit me since i don't drive. Now he's stop answering my calls and hasn't brought then by in almost a month. What do i do? I have bipolar depression and severe anxiety disorder, and I'm breaking down and feeling like i abandoned my kids. I feel like i don't deserve to be a mom or live. PLEASE HELP

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
March, 30 2016 at 4:28 pm

Find a way to visit the children so you aren't locked out of their lives permanently. Try to work something out with him. Ask a friend to drive you over (call first) and don't engage in verbal abuse with him when you get there. Do not move back in with him. There will be more physical violence, verbal and emotional abuse, etc. Call the NDVH or visit the website at and speak or chat with someone there EVERY DAY to help you get straight and stay strong.
Check your community for mental health help. Your mental health issues are of SUPREME importance. Bipolar disorder, bipolar depression and anxiety are very serious business. Getting back on your feet should include some form of health care.
You deserve to be a mom. The idea that you don't is the bipolar depression talking, not a fact.

April, 8 2016 at 4:16 pm

@Wow Thank you soooo much for your comment. It's very encouraging & helps me as I read it. Thank you!!

April, 11 2016 at 11:14 am

I didn't realize so many other ladies have the same experience of psychological/verbal abuse. It has made me suicidal in the past, but now I'm just wasting away. For me it's been about 15 years with my kids' dad and he does all those things, blames me for his anger, calls me names in front of the kids (in public too), crashed my car and replaced it with one that he won't sign over the title and says if I try to leave town, he'll have me arrested for auto theft. Been a stay-at-home mom, doing free lance graphic design but not enough money to leave with the kids. If I leave them here to get a steady job and apartment, he'll get custody for the simple fact that I left. He has never actually spent any time with his kids (just has me taking care of everything)....eats meals in his room, getting high and playing video games, but he wants me to give them to him if I leave and will legally fight me, even though they're all afraid of him. He slanders me to everyone he knows and I have a terrible reputation b/c why would his friends not believe him? He screams at any friend I make to leave us alone and it's too embarrassing to try to make new ones. When his family visits every few years, he comes out of his room and acts like part of the family, even telling stories he overheard us tell, as if he was there....awkward for everyone. Recently, he came stomping out of his room and knocked a spoon off the counter by accident and flew into a rage, threatening to "end me." He has a gun in his room that he already fired in his closet and out into the neighborhood. I asked for clarification about killing me and he said "we'll see." I got the cops involved and they did fact, they went to high school with him and thought he was cool. Since I don't have a way to save enough to leave with all 4 of them, I'm hoping to try to find any job online with a decent paycheck to help me and my girls go. Data entry? Who knows what he'll do if I can make it out, but it's been so long since I've had any joy in this life, other than my kids. Thanks for the ear :)

April, 13 2016 at 12:36 pm

Thank you once again for all the details.

Judie Quaintance
April, 20 2016 at 2:24 am

Have been dealing with an abusive marriage for close to 18 years.Why not leave,I am disabled and a senior but the thing holding me back is I have a medium size dog.Ever tried to find housing that allows a medium size dog? Impossible.I cannot leave the dog,that would be classified as animal abuse.I have been working with various agencies, county,state and local.Due to budget cuts,program deletions,they are strapped but have so many victims to deal with the local domestic abuse shelter is using offices,pantries,conference rooms as bedrooms.He started drinking heavly when his sister was murdered 5 years ago.refuses help, lies, I have been approached by people who know both of us and they tell me he has a girlfriend..he claims it is his evil twin.Kick him out you say..I cannot afford the property taxes..for a $73,000 house the property taxes are over $3000.That is about what the lawyers want around here for retainers.As for the dog he deliberately got it knowing how hard it would be..back when his sister was murdered his stepfather tried to sexually assault me in the front yard.I called him at work and instead of coming right home he went to the bar. Then gets mad at me when I got the police involved.He was bringing home his alcoholic buddies clothes for me to wash(thus they could spend more time at the bar) until I kicked the bag out of my way and it broke open revealing a bag full of human excrement.He had no reaction other than "well they don't use the bathroom just go in their clothes".He has called me names real horrible names.I could go on and on with daily episodes.I am receiving counseling. and using what resources are available but I feel like I am riding a bike up hill both ways in a snow storm on molasses..

Judie Quaintance
April, 20 2016 at 6:24 am

have to add to the above I found out later through the police he was trying to sell me for sex..I cut that out of our relationship a long time ago.I do not know where he has been or with who.I have family out of state but closer family three hours from here..why not go there..housing folks,housing...the local agencies and resources are strapped worse than around here.

April, 20 2016 at 8:22 pm

Just left my abuser about an hour ago he beat me in front of our 1 year old forced me to take drugs for three days with no sleep just so he can disrespect degrade and beat me because he said he wanted to break me mentally so that I don't ever leave him my body is covered in bruises and I know it won't be the last time ive tried everything but as long as court doesn't think my daughter is in danger no matter what he does to me we share custody

May, 12 2016 at 12:08 pm

I currently live with my abuser of the past 5 years. It all started 4 years ago when I didn't tell him about all of my past relationships. I had told a little white lie to stop the conversation and little did I know that he went behind my back and did his research into my past. He has been degrading me and controlling my every move since that day. Recently I had asked him to step up and help parent our child and his son from a previous relationship, he in turn told me it was my punishment for being a stupid c**t it escalated from there to the point where his hands were wrapped around my neck. The next day he was acting like nothing had ever happened. Happy go lucky. I told my mom and she went looking for houses to buy to get my son and I out of here. He has not once helped around the house and won't clean up after himself he says its te woman's job to do. (I work full time) I'm so glad I have support from family and friends to help me through this tough situation. It is better for my son.

May, 13 2016 at 2:32 pm

Reading this makes me want to vomit. I left my abuser... physical, emotional, mental, verbal 3 weeks ago. We were together 14 years, married 7, 13 year old son. He talked to a lawyer and she told him that if I was so scared why did I marry him. If I was so scared why did I agree to buy a house with him. I'm scared for what my future holds. I never want to be with him. I will be moving into an apartment starting next month. Year long lease. I am afraid though. Afraid he'll try everything he can to hurt me. I even had to quiet the fear by telling myself that even if he got full custody of our son it wouldn't be forever.. he is 13. I hate the fear that grips me so much. When I talk to my husband I tell him false hope cause I'm afraid he'll be horrible if I don't. Will this ever get better?

May, 17 2016 at 11:47 pm

I left my emotionally abusive husband 2 weeks ago. I've tried to leave several times in the past but fell victim to his manipulation time and time again. Abusers really know exactly the right words to say at the right time to keep you trapped. Finally got a side job and enough money to get my own apartment and I didn't hesitate.
I am still a bit in the denial stage hoping maybe just maybe this time will be different and he'll learn how much he hurt me and learn how to love in a healthy way...and I have given him the opportunity to try to be a better man. but every day I have more and more moments of clarity where I feel such peace and relief to be on my own. I've never lived alone and my income is not particularly high, so this is extremely scary for me, but I have never felt like I'm on the right path more than I do now. We're in a 'honeymoon' stage right now, so I do feel guilty for turning around and serving him with a divorce after I've given him a chance, but the more I think about going back to him, the more terrified I become. I'm so glad we don't have children. The thought of having his kids literally makes me sick because I can imagine how he will treat them...Divorce is the only option. We've got to listen to our gut, no matter how tough it is, right?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Ready for the future
May, 20 2018 at 10:31 am

I can appreciate everything you have said here and I am about to leave and know I will struggle but when staying is worse than leaving it is inevitable. I do t want to be sitting here in 5 yrs still thinking something g could work only to think I should have just done it 5 yrs ago!!! I have 3 grown children.

Divorced Man
May, 26 2016 at 5:44 am

I am an abused and divorced father of 2. I thought the divorce would end the abuse, but it did not. My oldest son recently went to live with his mother after calling the police and accusing me of abuse because his mom told him to do it. Countless times I have had the police come to my door, or been served to go to court over odd things.
I see a counselor and lawyer- they both say I need to just go. So Im doing just that.
I'm sorry for all of you who have been hurt by other men. We are not all the same, please know that.
My life has turned upside down, and my beliefs have changed and been challenged to the core. I live with a man now, frankly because relationships with women terrify me, and I find myself trying to build a life that cannot resemble anything in my past. I suffer grief, loss, guilt, and all the things that go with dealing with an abuser for 13 years.
My advice? I hardly have any. But be you, however that may look as you walk through the tornado of leaving and rebuilding. You wont be the same, which may save your life if you think about it. Who knows, maybe on the other side it will be wonderful, I personally dont know yet.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
May, 26 2016 at 9:15 am

Thank you for that comment. It is beautiful. And life on the other side, as always, is what we make of it. Beautiful and ugly and easy and difficult and it's all wrapped in a shiny package of memories. My goal is to make that package mean something when I open it. To make my memories mean something.

May, 30 2016 at 3:46 pm

Last Saturday I was verbally assaulted for "making him out to be a monster on instagram " I had shared some memes about relationship abuse. The fight turned ugly fast as it always does when I defend my human rights. He started screaming and i raise my voice over his and this time he spat in my mouth. He turned away and then spat again in my face while muttering "stupid fuckin bitch!"
I was so broken. How could it cone to this? Now anything goes. All I want was for him to see the abuse. But he is blind and Def to himself.
They start off about the subject that started it but soon turn into me explaining how he doesn't respect me by the all day put downs. He disregardes it, Than he claims I am the one who is disrespectful to him because our 3 kids break things. Suddenly it's a measuring stick of how inferior he is than me and how worthless I am in comparison. That my mothering and house keeping are a joke. Then lately it escalates psychically. And then he's trying to throw me out and we go days were I get the silent treatment. That he wants a divorce.
He wanted me to apologize for making him a monster. I then found a kik on his phone with lots of women. 2 different acounts. By Tuesday he still wanted a divorce after I apologized. I begged and begged for us to work it out. He accepted after a long time and the next day I explained my feelings and ask for his. What he thought our problems were. How we could try to fix us..."I don't know." And nods were his responses. He was happy go lucky but empty.
No real effort or attempt at solutions. He is a empty vessel. I realized after 2 days of trying to actually talk that he can't love or really care about us. That he has no strings to pull. When you love someone you have strings to the heart. He has none. I had a moment of clarity Thursday night and I was ready to give it all up. No I'm slowly losing my clarity. It's now Monday and I am going back to thinking about how what I am doing must make him feel. As if he feels anything for me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
June, 2 2016 at 2:16 pm

It's hard to do, but once you have that moment of clarity, remember it. Remember how it felt, how you found hope and even felt better knowing you are stronger than the abuse. You're doubting yourself because of the abuse and because those moments of clarity are short-lived (at first). For longer moments of clarity, like years of it, you have to get out of the relationship.
This is not your fault. You did not make him into a monster any more than you could make him into a saint.
I'm guessing that with his dating accounts in place, he's feeling like you're too much trouble to manipulate anymore. If you don't separate, I forecast that he'll cheat on you physically (if he hasn't already). He'll find easier prey. But he won't go until he's found a more willing victim.
There's only heartbreak ahead if you stay. Continual heartbreak.

May, 30 2016 at 3:57 pm

He calls me every name in the book. He makes me wait for his attention and he constantly reminds me of his stupid gender roles. At first I thought that sins we started church it would help. It maid it worse. And church permits abusers more because they ignore what they should be doing as a christian husband but remember everything a christian wife should do. Ignore the verses that tell them to love their wives as god loves the church. Or how they should not commit adultery.

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