Leaving Abusive Relationships & Escaping from Abusers
A Complete Guide
Breaking the cycle of abuse
If you are in an abusive relationship, it is important to reach out and speak to someone. Remember that you are not responsible for the abuse, you deserve a happy and peaceful life in which you are treated with respect.
Your safety and well-being is priority and so breaking the cycle of abuse is the first step towards recovery.
Ending the relationship is not going to be easy, especially when you’ve been isolated, physically beaten, and emotionally and financially controlled.
This can be a long process but remember you are not alone. If you feel anxious about approaching friends and family, you may want to approach other organisations which are available to help and support you.
Details of various organisations will be provided towards the end of this guide
When is it time to leave an abusive relationship?
Unfortunately some victims need to recognise that they are being abused before they can decide to do anything about it. For others it is quite common to make excuses for the abuser, living in the hope that they will change. You might be living in fear, terrified about how the abuser would respond to you leaving.
In any event, you need to know that these feelings all form part of the abuse. You cannot change the abuser, they will continue to abuse, and you just need to get away from them.
When you have gained the strength to make the decision to leave, you need to escape, using a plan which puts your safety first. Make sure your abuser does not become aware that you’re planning to leave.
Take your time to really think what you can do to stay safe.
How to prepare to leave an ongoing abuse situation
Leaving an abusive relationship may seem terrifying but you need to keep reminding yourself of your right to this freedom. A right to start a new life, leading away from the abusive relationship and into safety. You may feel unsure of what to do, but know there are people who will be committed to helping and supporting you.
You may find the following points helpful:
- Wait until the abuser is out or away when getting things in place ready for you to leave
- Do your research on places to live and what financial options are open to you
- Use the ‘incognito’ mode when using google, this allows you to search anonymously, the abuser will not be able to trace your search history
- Speak to a trusted neighbour, friend or family member
- Keep an extra set of keys in a safe place
- Ask a trusted person to hold your important documents, i.e. Passport, birth certificate, driving licence etc.
- Set some money aside
- Keep your car fuelled and ready
- Prepare a bag with essential items when you leave, ask a trusted person to hold on to this
- Keep proof of the abuse, this will really help after you have left.
How to safely escape and get away from abuse
Practice your escape plan so you know what to do when you are ready to leave. Ask some trusted people in your life if they could support you with the plan. This may be arranging to be collected, a place to stay or help with contacting the police.
Do not let the abuser know of your intentions to leave, this can easily be done in an argument. Not only can this lead to a potentially dangerous situation, but the abuser may try to use their manipulation tactics to begin to regain control over you.
Remember focus on a safe time to escape, this doesn’t have to be right away. However in an emergency always call the police on 999.
Leaving an abusive marriage or co inhabiting relationship
Being in an abusive relationship with someone you love can be a traumatising experience. You may feel committed to your abuser and want to help them or feel too frightened to leave. In either situation know that no one has the right to mistreat you.
There are lots of organisations committed to helping and supporting victims of abuse. They will be able to provide further guidance on orders that may be available to you. A non-molestation order can prevent your abuser from contacting you after you have left.
Alternatively an occupation-order can order your abuser to move out of the family home.
Leaving an abusive relationship if you live apart
Leaving an abusive relationship in which you live apart can be difficult, but no one has the right to abuse you. The fact that you were living apart may not have been a bad thing, focus on yourself and surround yourself with people who genuinely love and care for you to support you through this ordeal.
Getting away from an abusive family member
It is a natural reaction to trust people who should be caring for you, so it can be a confusing and frightening experience when you are abused by a family member.
Remember you should feel safe and loved and abuse is not acceptable under any circumstances. Reach out for help outside the family to ensure someone is aware of your situation.
Considerations for a minor escaping an abusive adult
Unfortunately child abuse can take place anywhere, at home, school or a friend’s house.
It can be a traumatic experience being abused by adults who you trust. This may cause a lot of confusion and minors may feel scared to reach out.
However, know that no one has the right to abuse you, it is important to speak to someone about what is happening to you. There are lots of good people out there who will be willing to help and support you.
Considerations of escaping an abusive friendship or workplace
Abusive relationships can exist outside the home too, sadly you will be exposed to the best and worst in people wherever they exist.
Leaving an abusive friendship or workplace may not be an easy decision. You may fear the risk of being unemployed because of financial commitments or feel a sense of loyalty to your friend.
Know that you will not progress in a toxic relationship or environment, your safety and wellbeing should be priority. Friendship should be loving and supportive not a cause for misery.
There is no attachment with an abusive friendship or workplace, so walk away and surround yourself with people who will support you.
Considerations of leaving a violent or threatening abuser
Most abusers are often more dangerous after their victim has left as they have now lost control over their victim.
It is vital that you do everything in your power to cease all contact with the abuser.
Change your phone number, block the abuser and anyone else who was friends with both of you. Make sure you do not disclose your place of stay to anyone.
Let the police know of your plan to escape in case something goes wrong. Keep evidence of the abuse, this will help when applying for court orders against the abuse
What happens to an abuser after their victim leaves
The abuser will feel angry because they have lost control over their victim. They will want to try everything to regain this control.
They will find it difficult to accept the victim was brave and strong enough to take this step and will start to look at ways to trace their victim.
The abuser may try to use their manipulation tactics or threats to lure their victim back.
The longer the victim stays away and ceases all contact, the more likely the abuser will begin to accept the reality of the situation.
Staying out of your abuser's control
Even when you’ve built the courage and strength to leave the abuser, it is not uncommon to feel tempted to go back.
It can be difficult to let go of someone you love or just the fear of starting a new life all over again.
When this happens, just remind yourself of your reasons for leaving in the first place.
You need to understand you cannot change the abuser, you can however change and direct your own path, embrace this power of independence and freedom.
How to help and support someone else leaving an abuser
The important thing to remember is, it will always be difficult to understand what the victim has endured when you are not in that situation yourself.
How you respond to a victim’s situation can make a huge difference. It is important that you listen without judging or criticising. By encouraging and supporting the victim, they will feel stronger in their decision making.
Do not make them feel bad for not leaving earlier or staying in the relationship, it will only damage the victim’s confidence further.
Summary and further reading
Remember your life is too precious and no one deserves to experience abuse. Remind yourself you are worthy and deserving of a life filled with love, dignity and respect.
You may find the following links useful to get support;
If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you can’t speak and are calling on a mobile press 55 to have your call transferred to the police. Find out how to call the police when you can’t speak.
Women’s Aid have a directory of domestic abuse support services across the UK.
If you are experiencing domestic abuse or are worried about friends or family, you can access the Women’s Aid live chat service 7 days a week, 10am to 6pm.
- Women can contact The Freephone National Domestic Abuse Helpline, run by Refuge on 0808 2000 247 for free at any time, day or night. The staff will offer confidential, non-judgemental information and support
- Men can contact Men’s Advice Line on 0808 8010 327 (Monday and Wednesday, 9am to 8pm, and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 9am to 5pm) for non-judgemental information and support
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