Have you made up your mind to leave your abuser? If you have, congratulations on an important step forward in reclaiming your life. Now, the next decision to take is to NOT tell your abuser yet.
“Thank God I found the GOOD in goodbye” Beyoncé Knowles
As the adult in this abusive relationship, you feel like you are always doing the decent and responsible thing. It may have crossed your mind that – despite the pain and misery – you owe it to him to tell him your intention to leave. Stop!
Goodbyes are counter-productive
Don’t say goodbye. Don’t plan on a heartfelt conversation where you get to lay it on the line for him. In the best case scenario, he will use it as an opportunity to emotionally blackmail or otherwise manipulate you into staying. In the worst, this will trigger an extreme reaction as his need to control you and force your submission goes into overdrive.
For me, each and every time my abuser heard that I couldn’t bear any more and was leaving, I got the same result. I stayed stuck. The abuse got worse.
Warning him you intend to leave increases danger
When making your escape plan, leave the grown-up goodbye out of it. You don’t owe him a farewell. Letting him know what you plan will change nothing, and it will cause your risk to sky-rocket. We are at greatest risk of being murdered at the point of leaving, or after we separate from our violent partner (Lees, 2000).
The only time I ever successfully left my abuser, I did it with stealth. With my essentials already discretely ready-to-go – I waited until I knew he was at work,took the baby and our things, and got out of there. I told him hours later by text message. Yes, I worried that it was callous. But, I also reminded myself that the safety of my child and I had to come first. And anyway, hadn’t he already smashed away any lingering niceties that would ordinarily require a heart-to-heart first?
If you want to make a safe exit, please do so in secrecy. Explanations (if you really feel they are needed) can come later – preferably by text, letter or email, followed immediately by No Contact.
* This post is adapted from my Twelve Days of Christmas Series, posted in December. It was also amended on 5 March 2014 to include reference to research by Lees on the increased risk at the point of separation.
Have you escaped domestic abuse? Did you stop to say goodbye? What would be your advice to someone now determined to leave?
ALSO SEE: Five common motivations for staying in an abusive relationship, in Why we stay when we know we shouldn’t.
© Avalanche of the Soul, 2013-14