So, you’ve made the decision to leave your abuser. You know that this is the only way to a happy and safe future – but you are anxious, even afraid, of what happens next. Here’s how to feel the fear and do it anyway.
You didn’t decide in a heartbeat. You waited for him to turn back into the Prince Charming that you fell in love with. You tried to help him to get better, no matter what it cost you. You turned a blind eye, you made excuses for him, you changed what you do and even who you are. You’ve likely tried to leave before, but succumbed to his manipulative tactics to make you stay.
You have cried a river – again and again. You know that this is not okay. You do not consent to any further abuse. You now realise that only YOU have the ability to improve your situation. You now understand that you can’t change him – but you can take your power back.
Well done. This is one of the biggest and best decisions you can ever make.
FEELING THE FEAR
You know that leaving will be hard. It was for me. I was terrified not only of what he may do but also how I would cope without the man to whom I was trauma-bonded. But, I knew by then that my best chance of being safe and happy was a leap into the unknown – rather than continuing my zombie-like existence with my abuser.
Every abuse survivor has once stood where you are. They felt the fear, and did it anyway. You can, too.
Now that you have reached the inevitable but huge decision to get out, you will find strength you didn’t know that you had. (After all, a weak person couldn’t live with an abuser, could they?). And, you will find sources of support in all sorts of places – perhaps even where you never expected.
“When a person really desires something, all the universe conspires to help that person to realize his dream.” Paulo Coelho
DOING IT ANYWAY
Now, you have the power and control! So use it, and turn your decision to be free into a life-affirming step forward.
Here’s four things that will help you make it happen.
1. Reach out – but not to him
Don’t tell him you plan to leave. He will promise you the sun, the moon, and everything in between. He will emotionally blackmail you. He won’t change back into the man you fell in love with. Instead, as he grasps the threat to his power, his need to control you will go into overdrive. The abuse will get worse. Trust me on this. The one and only time I successfully left my abuser, I did it with stealth.
Instead, think about others that you could reach out to. If your abuser has isolated you from friends and family – how about supportive colleagues, the friendly neighbour, or a mother at playgroup? Or, check out the Resources and Support page to find a service provider that can give you vital practical and emotional support.
2. Make a safe exit plan
Women are at greatest risk of being murdered at the point of leaving, or after separating from, a violent partner (Lees, 2000). For that reason, a safe exit plan is one of the most important things that you can do. Check out my post on making a safe exit, for more about preparing to get out and reducing your risk.
3. Know where your essential items are
When you leave, it’ll help to take a number of essential items with you. These include birth certificates, passports, and identity documents for you and your children. Also, things like driving license and registration papers, insurance documents, and any evidence that you have of the abuse will be extremely helpful.
Pack an escape bag if you can do so safely. If you’re worried about setting your abuser’s alarm bells ringing, familiarise yourself with where these essentials are – so you can grab them as you go.
4. Sort out your finances
Getting your finances in order will give you more options once you have escaped your abuser.
Think about opening a secret bank or checking account in just your name. Use it to squirrel away any money you can. Change your PIN and security details on any personal accounts that you have – and change the address too, if you can do so safely. This will stop him from being able to empty your account once you’ve gone. Also – especially if you are not working – go ahead and find out what emergency support, benefits and grants you may be entitled to.
“Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the bigger underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness!” (Susan Jeffers, author of ‘Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway’)
Determined to leave – What are you most looking forward to in your abuse-free future? Already made the break? – share how you made it happen!
ALSO SEE: To uncover why your partner‘s substance use is an excuse to abuse you, check out Why he only hurts you when he’s drunk (or high)
© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14