The problem with abuse is often that it creeps in slowly and leaves you helpless. Even if all the signs of toxicity are apparent, leaving an abusive relationship somehow is not that easy. The constant anxiety and fear wrap you in a way that renders you weak and unable to stand up for yourself.
Abuse can be physical or emotional. Either way, it impacts the victim to an extent that they resist any kind of emancipation and simply resign to their fate because of how afraid they become. From gaslighting phrases to physical violence, any form of abuse should not go unnoticed or unaddressed.
Getting Out Of An Abusive Relationship
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What is an abusive relationship, you wonder? While there is no proper checklist, abuse comes in many shapes and sizes. Read the following account about Amanda, her partner and her journey of leaving an abusive relationship to understand more.
When Amanda, my close friend, came to see me, there was a haunted look in her eyes. To me, she resembled a frightened doe. When I asked her what the matter was, she held my hand tightly and narrated her story that involved her and her abusive boyfriend, Cole.
Amanda and Cole were classmates at university. Amanda came from a middle-class family and was quite pretty to look at. But she thought that Cole was out of her league. He was tall and handsome, and came from an extremely well-off family.
Surprisingly, it was Cole who asked her out. He wrote Amanda a charmingly eloquent and poetic love letter to win her over. Amanda’s resistance soon broke and she said yes. Soon after graduating from university, the couple rented a home and started living together.
It began with words
It took her six months to discover his true nature. Initially, Amanda had no idea that Cole would turn out to be this way. His initial sweetness gradually gave away to taunts. It seemed as if he was turning into an abusive boyfriend.
“My family is rich,” he said one day, “Yours is not up to our standard.”
This soon turned into emotional abuse and name-calling.
“You idiot! You can’t even cook a decent meal properly. Are we just supposed to eat boxed mac n cheese for the rest of our lives? Can’t you make something different?” he spewed, that too when she had cooked a meal after returning home from work at 9 pm.
While Amanda got a corporate job right after university, Cole decided to pursue a Master’s degree. Since it was a distance-learning institution, he wasn’t obliged to attend class. Yet, it was Amanda who did all the chores at home. She took care of all the cooking, cleaning, and other household work, and even bore all the household expenses.
Related Reading: What is abuse in a relationship?
Then, the beatings started
This abusive relationship story only gets more traumatic from here. It didn’t take long for Cole to turn physically abusive. When Amanda objected to one of his female classmates calling him too frequently, he kicked her and she fell to the ground. Then he slapped her as she tried to get up. That was the first time she was dealing with domestic abuse.
The situation worsened every day. Cole started to raise his hand on Amanda at the slightest excuse. Once, during a fight, he put a pillow over her face, trying to smother her. Amanda folded her hands and begged for her life; it was then that he let her go. This incident was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
It was at that point that she came to me, her friend. She arrived at my house and said, “Am I in an abusive relationship? I don’t know what to do. I feel so helpless. I do love him”
I decided to help her escape because leaving an abusive relationship was the only way she would regain some normalcy and feel like herself again. We spent days planning it. One day, when Cole wasn’t home, Amanda called me over. We quickly packed a few of her necessary belongings and she came away with me to my hostel. She left a message on his phone saying that she was leaving him.
Related Reading: When I decided to walk towards freedom after facing abuse
He was not ready to let her go
Cole wasn’t ready to let her go. He soon found out about our hostel, where we had been staying and met the warden, asking her to release Amanda to him. The warden, to whom I had told the truth, refused. It was now up to us all to help Amanda find an answer to how to leave an abusive relationship.
Cole, then, went to her workplace. But he wasn’t earnest or desperate to find her because he wanted her back. He was badmouthing her and saying awful things to her coworkers and friends about her. Wherever he went, he engaged in slut-shaming.
“She left me – I think for someone else. She has a bad character. Onto the next one. Maybe she will drain him of all his money too,” he told to whoever cared to listen.
He took recourse to lies. “I paid for everything. Now, she has to return my money.” This abusive relationship story was now turning into financial abuse.
Amanda was severely upset and cried in private, but she was not one to be easily cowed down. I took her to the police station and we decided to tell the cops about the situation. What she thought was a sweet and loving live-in relationship quickly turned into the most painful experience of her life.
Related Reading: How does the abuser operate in an abusive relationship?
Taking the help of cops for leaving an abusive relationship
Amanda called Cole and said that she wanted to give him some money. When she went to meet him, two policemen accompanied her. When Cole opened the door, the cops accosted him and warned him to stay away from Amanda. They also helped her recover some of her remaining belongings from the house.
Amanda was filled with rage on seeing him and felt empowered like never before. She knew that others were on her side and she would not let Cole, her abusive boyfriend, get away with it. Her final words to Cole were, “I cannot believe I missed all the warning signs of gaslighting for months. Don’t try to get in touch with me or I will have to get a restraining order.”
Her story of getting out of an abusive relationship taught her that trust takes time but one should never let love overpower one’s self-respect.
Today, Amanda has put her past behind her. She has rented a great apartment with her coworkers, is doing really well at her job. Leaving an abusive relationship has taught her now to choose her company wisely and not bow down to any man.
I admire my friend for not giving in to oppression and standing up for herself.
(Names changed to protect identities)
Leaving an emotionally abusive is simply about realizing that one moment when you know things cannot be salvaged anymore, gathering your self-respect and walking out. If you are committed to making it work, you can try therapy and counseling, but in most cases, it is just one of the biggest break up signs and time for you to walk away.
Emotional abuse can completely strip one of their self-confidence. It can make them meek and afraid to a point that they don’t even realize the gravity of their abuse. This will internally erode one’s happiness.