How To Leave An Abusive Relationship and 13 Bonus Ways to Stay Safe

You dream of a safe place to call home, and leaving is the step you need to take to get there. Leaving is not just one step though. It’s many steps, but don’t be discouraged you can do this! Here are some of the things that you need to think about in order to leave safely. Leaving an abusive and controlling relationship needs to take a lot of consideration. The most important thing is that you get away SAFELY.

We are going to talk about four things to work through as you plan to leave, and eventually leave. Be patient with yourself, it took a long time for you to build a life (or cage rather) with your husband and it will take time to rebuild. Leaving physically should be quick, but breaking away mentally and emotionally can take longer. Here are the ways you will need to break away.

  1. First, A Plan.
  2. Breaking Away Mentally
  3. Breaking Away Emotionally
  4. Finally Leaving

Before you get started on the hard work I want you to know that you are worthy of love and kindness. You are strong enough to build a life for yourself and for your children. This isn’t going to be easy, but you are tough. Just look at the life you have lived- and survived!


First, A Plan

You’ve been dreaming of a safe place, a home you can call yours and be yourself; not what at all what it has been. The first step in leaving is to create a plan to help you leave safely and not return.  

Gather important documents like birth certificate and social security card. Keep enough money on hand to buy items on your way (if your bank account or credit cards are shared he may follow you by the transaction history). If you can, stay with a family member, close friend, or domestic violence shelter, as long as you are able. 

A cell phone can be good to keep but may be tracked. An important thing to remember is to be sure you have the phone numbers of people you may need to talk to. 

In the days leading up to leaving you can meet someone you trust to have them hold onto important items you will need to take with you. 

When you leave, you can meet in a public place to get your things. It is so important that when you leave you do it quickly. Having a plan helps you to know what to do when emotions are high. 

Gathering items slowly can help you to get things out of the house undetected. Leave medications and important documents for the last items you remove from the house.

Breaking Away Mentally 

Emotional abuse, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and financial abuse are all types of abuse that are used to keep you under control. Ultimately, they keep you from being you. Breaking away can be such a strange process, especially as you start to make your own decisions again.

Abuse comes in many forms and impacts nearly every part of who you are. Your thoughts tend to betray you when you think of leaving. Fear of what could happen, or fear of if you have what it takes floods your mind. 

Gaslighting is one of the reasons that his hold on your mind can feel impossible to be free of. In short, gaslighting is confusion caused through blatant lies and twisting of reality. This is often done through comments like “I never said that”, “Don’t you remember we had plans for…”, “You always say that to me”. There is nothing wrong with the comments, it’s the confusion they cause, motivations behind them, and the way they are constantly used that makes them damaging. 

This causes you to think you are the problem and something is wrong with you. When in reality, it is him. Getting into counseling can help you through this, but until you leave it may not be an option.

There is an awakening that happens when you start to see the red flags, and through the lies. The tricky part is to not let your husband catch onto this. It’s normal to desire to show him that you are onto him. It can be so tempting to let him know you are strong because he’s made you believe you are weak. So, hold back the urge. It’s common for women to lash out when they feel it is safe because someone is present, or they feel empowered by seeing the truth. 

The Grey Rock Method could work. This is when you become as dull and as boring as you possibly can around your husband, don’t engage or challenge his ideas or behaviors. 

Breaking Away Emotionally 

Ah, this is the hard part! No, not any of it is easy, but this is especially hard. You have built a life with this person, and though there were a lot of bad memories there were some good times too. You likely love him. The only way to get safe though is to start to seeing things as they are.

How do you leave someone you love? How do you throw away a life you build with someone? These are questions aI asked myself and questions that I am sure you are asking too. I had to make a decision between my love for him my abuser and the safe life I dreamed of for my children (and myself).

Allow yourself to grieve the end of the relationship. Acknowledge that you had dreams and plans for the two of you. A violent relationship was not in your plan though. It was his plan, but not yours. 

How do you break away emotionally, though? Seeing your marriage as this really are can cause you to be in need of emotional support. The tricky part is to not turn to your husband to get your emotional needs met. This can push you further into bondage with him. 

You can focus your heart back on God again. Ask him for your heart’s needs and for His love to fill you as you separate your heart from your husband. I created a 15 day Prayer Journal to help you through this.

psalm 45-18

Finally Leaving 

Leave when he is not home! Let the door close behind you and trust yourself that this is the right decision. It’s a good idea to focus your mind on the steps of your safety plan.

Leave and don't look back. Not looking abc means you dont allow yourself to long for the life you used to have. It can also mean you are unreachable for a while. Phone calls, text messages, and social media can all be used to get you back under his control.

Healing can be a funny thing. One day you feel strong like you’ve put so much of your past behind you, and the next you feel like you’re drowning again. Your progress is not lost because you have a bad day (or week). Give yourself grace.

Healing feels like it comes in waves, sometimes it's easy and it washes over you, other times it's hard. Healing is a lifelong journey- not a destination that one day you finally reach.

Other ways to keep yourself and your children safe

Here are a few bonus thoughts that can help you as you leave safely. Leaving is hard, and I want to help you think of things you may not know could be a problem.

  1. Never return to the home, this can turn into a very dangerous situation.
  2. Consider a restraining order for added protection.
  3. Intimate partner abuse that has never had physical violence can quickly escalate to that point when escaping.
  4. Use an escape plan to help you leave safely.
  5. A code word can be used to keep in contact with others that may be able to help you escape.
  6. Teach your children about safe relationships. 
  7. Your mental health needs to be a priority, get help when you need it.
  8. Never underestimate an abusive person they are unpredictable when they feel like they’re losing control. It is common that the first time things become physical to happen when leaving.
  9. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
  10. Know the facts about domestic abuse and the cycle of abuse.
  11. Adopt the belief that there must be a drastic change for a long time if you ever decide to give him another chance. 
  12. Abusive men can change, but they very rarely do. Please do not take sweet text messages and “I’m Sorry” as proof of changed behavior.
  13. Be careful of trusting a close friend that is also friends with your husband. They may not be safe to confide in.

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