Free yourself from the abuse.
Abuse comes in many shapes and sizes — emotional, physical, or even spiritual. Whatever it comes wrapped is just as impacting.
When I'm coaching women on how to let go of their ex-relationships, I notice all sorts of behavior that their ex exhibits and in some cases, it's "abusive". However, the most abuse I see is actually the self-abuse that my ladies inflict on themselves when they live in this sort of relationship.
Abusing yourself while living in this sort of relationship comes hand-in-hand. I'm a big believer that your outer reflects your inner world, which means that how you let someone treat you usually reflects how you treat you.
I understand that leaving an abusive relationship is challenging as you may:
- feel that you deserve the experience you are living
- tell yourself that you will be the one to change him as he needs you
- be too scared to leave because you're frightened of his threats and what he will do to you and/or your children (if you have them) if you were to do so.
Whatever the reason is for staying, there are just as many reasons for leaving and escaping, which (if you are in an abusive relationship) you will have told yourself a thousand times.
So how do you leave an abusive relationship? There are 3 steps:
1. Overcome your fear and guilt of leaving.
In the first instance, it's really important to overcome your fear of leaving. Fear will paralyze you and keep you stuck. The most prominent feeling that most of my clients feel is fear, followed by guilt as a close second.
Fear keeps them captive as they believe that they can't escape without their abuser lashing out. They believe that their “abuser” needs them, which kee[s them captive — which, of course, is not the case.
How do you overcome the fear and the guilt?
Let's tackle fear first. Be mindful of the scenarios that are playing in your head as to what you perceive would be the worst outcome imaginable. It hasn’t happened yet even though you are being threatened.
Write down a list of benefits to the worst thing can happen. By doing this, you're starting to balance out your perception about your future to see that even the worst situation can be a gift.
Guilt is just another way of saying, "I will hurt the person if I do what feels right for me." This, of course, is not true. There are always two sides to the story.
Leaving your aggressor may ruffle his feathers and make him feel that he can't function without you. However, it's his responsibility to find his own happiness and fortune — NOT yours.
2. Protect yourself.
It's important to have a protection plan before you leave so that you and your children (if you have them) are protected once you leave. Make sure you tell friends and family of your plan and report what you have been through to the authorities, and make sure that you have a secure place to go to.
I know quite a few women who have chosen not to because they didn’t feel it was necessary. If you feel that you're in this camp, ask yourself why wouldn’t you? Is it because you truly believe it, or is it because you fear the consequences?
Get real with the reason and if you find yourself still being controlled by fear and guilt, repeat the steps that I lay out in part 1.
3. Heal from the experience.
So by now if you have physically left, it is time to start healing from what you have been through. When I meet women who have been "abused", their sense of self has completely dissolved and so has their self-esteem.
So it's time to focus on you and start healing what has happened to you so that you can discover your inner power and reclaim who you truly are from the inside out.
When choosing someone to work with, make sure that you choose to work with a professional that will not hold you to how awful the experience was but who will challenge your perceptions so that you take yourself out of the victim mentality.
Staying in the victim mentality (no matter how awful the situation was) will keep you hostage to your past and keep rendering you powerless.
In short, you have to realize that there is a problem and that the situation you are living is NOT normal and that you don’t deserve it either.
Your fear and guilt will keep you coming back for more — only if you let them. However, you are more powerful than your emotions. That is all they are — emotions.
You then need to leave and protect yourself when you take the plunge. Finally, it’s really important to heal from the experience to work with a professional who will re-charge your batteries to bring your power back.
Marina Pearson is a living coach, international speaker, and blogger. Download your free e-book "The 7.5 Mistakes That Women Make To Stop Them Moving On From Their Ex" on DivorceShift.