How To Get Out Of An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

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If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, you probably feel scared, alone, confused, ashamed, depressed, guilty, ruined, screwed, and utterly embarrassed to mention it to anyone even if you know you are going to need help getting out of this manipulative relationship.

But you do know that the relationship you are in is not a healthy one and you need to get out of this emotional abuse once and for all.

But how? Where do you even start? It’s not like you can “just leave” as people tend to say.

So let’s talk about the things you need to understand as you decide to leave your abusive relationship. Then we can get into the steps you need to get yourself out the door and on to the better, happier, and more fulfilled life that you deserve.

If you are not totally sure that you are dealing with emotional abuse in your relationship, please read my Part 1 post “Signs You Are In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship (and don’t even know it).”

In that post, I talk about my 6-year-long emotionally abusive HELL that I lived through with an ex of mine. I give a comprehensive list of things that constitute abusive behavior. (Some of the things you may not even know are abusive.)

Consider this: Sometimes people don’t even realize they are being mentally abusive.

Are they sincerely willing to seek help, or no?

Express one last time how they have made you feel. Suggest outside help such as counseling, books, etc. If they sincerely didn’t realize they were knocking you down this low and truly love you, then they will be willing to seek outside help immediately.

If the excuses startup as to why they won’t go to counseling or “I don’t have time to read self-help books” or “you’re just being too sensitive” etc. then it’s time for you to start the process of getting yourself out the door. You are in a pointless relationship with someone who literally doesn’t care enough about you to learn how to stop hurting you.

Quote: Being fooled does not make you a fool. You only become a fool when you continuously fall for the same shit. Unknown

Things You Need To Understand As You Decide to Leave Your Abusive Relationship

1st Step – Recognizing that you ARE in an abusive relationship

As someone who lived in emotional abuse day in and day out for 6 YEARS, I’m telling you that the simple act of recognizing it was extremely hard.

I consider myself a relatively smart person. I’d like to think I’ve got a decent-sized dose of common sense when it comes to life.

Emotional abuse sneaks up on you. You don’t even realize it’s happening until it’s too late and you’re completely isolated and your self-esteem is so low that you don’t have the energy to take the steps to do something about it.

I mean, I knew that the relationship sucked. I knew that it was toxic. I knew that it was bullshit. And after years of the same ‘ol same ‘ol, I knew deep down that things were never going to change.

But I never once thought of the term “abusive.” Probably because, like I said in my Emotional Abuse – Part 1 post, when most people think of “abusive” they think black eyes and fat lips.

I was one of those people.

He never hit me. Never choked, slapped, punched, etc. He never forced me to do anything.

So the thought that it was “abuse” never crossed my mind.

For me, it took finally leaving (for the last time) and looking back with a clear mind of my own to realize just how emotionally abusive the entire relationship was. (My abuser was literally every single one of the signs!)

Understand that you cannot “fix” an abusive person

Man, the amount of time I wasted trying to “fix” that relationship is unreal! Years, you guys. YEARS!

Behaving in an abusive way is a choice. The person is choosing to do it. And they’re choosing to do it to you.

That should be a wake-up call on how much you think they “love” you. They are literaly choosing to hurt you.

That’s love?

No. It’s the polar opposite to be exact.

The only thing you can “fix” is yourself and you own choices.

Quote: Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me. Carol Burnett

What are some of your own choices that you have the power to change?:

  • Choosing to believe that you and the things you do (or don’t do) are to blame for their actions
  • Choosing to engage when they start the “shit starting” game or make rude comments to you
  • Choosing to allow them to isolate you from friends and family
  • Choosing to stay in the rut of depression and unhappiness with the very person who is causing it
  • Choosing to stay

Understand that IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT

Outside our doors, no one would have guessed it was as bad as it was. I’m pretty good at always smiling. I was also good at not telling anyone how shitty it was because, for one, it was embarrassing, and for two, I had been manipulated to think a lot of it was my fault.

You feel humiliated for letting yourself get this deep into this crap. And then feel even more humiliated to talk to anyone about it. Trust me, I get it!

But this is not your fault, my friend. None of it.

Again, abuse is a choice. You are not to blame for someone else’s choices. Especially when you were slowly manipulated and didn’t even realize the abuse was happening.

YOU will have to be the one to leave

If you are waiting around for the abuser to leave you, don’t hold your breath. It’s not going to happen.

They will not leave you. They’ve succeeded in gaining complete control over you and it makes them feel good about themselves to be in so much control.

Do you think they are going to give up all of that control and feel like an insecure nobody again? Nope.

YOU will have to be the one to leave. It’s going to be hard. But YOU will have to be the one to do it.

“Ok. I need to get out of this abusive relationship, but how?”

Right now, it feels impossible. You probably feel stuck and alone.

I remember that feeling like it was yesterday.

It’s not easy to “just leave” as a lot of people will try to tell you. Particularly ones who have never been unfortunate enough to have experienced an emotionally (or physically) abusive relationship.

  • You’ve built a life with this person. You may even have kids together, joint bank accounts, bought a house together, car note with both your names on it, etc.
  • You have nowhere to go because remember, you unwillingly (but willingly) ghosted and cut off all of your friends and family.
  • You have no money because they control all of it.
  • You don’t feel like you have the strength to. (Lack of motivation is a sure sign of depression.)
  • They threaten to kill themselves and/or hurt you or your children if you try to leave. (Manipulation at it’s finest.)

The mental abuse has knocked you down so low that all of your excuses as to why you can’t or shouldn’t leave are your feelings of deep depression and brainwash.

But you can do this. You had a life before them and you can have a life after them.

You will have to make a plan. And stick to you your plan.

It’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done to get out, but once you do, the grey cloud hanging over you will blow away and within WEEKS you will look back and think, “Wow, wtf. Eff them.”

Excuse #1: “But, I don’t want my kids growing up in a ‘broken home'”

Kid’s are not as oblivious as we may think they are.

They’re little sponges that soak up EVERYTHING they see and hear.

Hell, my 2-year-old called his brother an “idiot” the other day. Something he heard from Lightning McQueen on the movie Cars. (Gee thanks McQueen. Ugh.)

Your kids see what’s happening between you and their other parent. They can hear the rude and degrading comments. They believe their parent who is feeding them BS to turn them against you.

And worst of all, they look up to us as parents so much that they want to be just like us in every way.

So your daughters are learning that it’s ok to be talked to and treated like trash.

And your sons are learning that it’s ok to manipulate others and treat women like trash.

And vice versa as far as gender goes.

Your kids see you depressed and down all the time. You can’t even be the parent you want to be for them because of your depression.

Do you really think keeping them in this negative environment their entire childhood is better than “growing up in a broken home?”

Here’s the alternative:

  • You and the kids leave
  • You slowly but surely gain your self-confidence and esteem back
  • You slowly but surely gain your happiness back
  • You are now raising your kids with the real you – wholly and fully
  • You expose your kids to other adults who are better role models than their abusive parent (and you, when you were allowing the abuse to happen to you)
  • The new and improved You, along with other positive role models, are now indirectly and subconsciously teaching your little sponge-brained kids positivity, healthy relationships, and love.
Quote: If they do it often, it isn't a mistake; it's just their behavior. Dr. Steve Maraboli

Excuse #2: “But, I have no friends and family left. No one to call for help.”

Are you sure?

Have you tried calling them? Or are you just assuming that since you blew them off over and over again for such a long time, that they won’t want anything to do with you?

Stop assuming. You are not a mind reader!

It’s going to feel humiliating. You’re going to feel like an idiot. And you’re going to feel like a meek little pathetic mouse trying to crawl back into your friends and family’s lives even though you’re the one who cut them off in the first place.

Trust me, I freaking know. I felt utter humiliation. Ugh.

But call them! Send them a text. Ask them to lunch with you one day. Or if you have no money (like I didn’t) ask them if they want to go for a walk with you in the park or mall or something.

A true friend or family member will not refuse. As a matter of fact, they probably have been holding their breath this whole time, waiting for the day that you will reach out to them.

Make an effort to start getting people besides your abusive partner back into your life. Right now you feel completely alone. But knowing, in fact, that you aren’t alone will start to build your confidence back up to leave the abusive relationship.

Try to keep in mind that your friends and family are looking at your situation from outside the box, which is a good thing. They see things much differently than you do from within the box full of manipulation and abuse. So try not to blow off their observances and suggestions as “they’re just being too critical.”

If truth be told, you discover that you don’t have any true friends or family to simply hang out with and talk to, then go make new friends!

Search your local Facebook groups, MeetUp groups, etc. for things you are interested in and you will find other people who are interested in the same things you are!

For example, I like to read so I joined a couple of Facebook book club groups, as well as a MeetUp book club group. Each group reads a book a month and once a month we all meet at the local wherever (sometimes it’s a coffee shop…other times it’s the library or park) and just discuss our thoughts on the book. One of my book club groups is international so obviously, we don’t meet up in person every month. Instead, we read the monthly book and then discuss it on the Facebook group wall together!

Another example: I love to rock paint as a hobby! So I joined my local Facebook rock painting groups and interact with fellow rock painters and hiders. Sometimes someone will schedule a “rock painting party” where we meet at someone’s house. Nobody knows each other at these meetups, so I don’t feel totally awkward as I’m walking in because we all are there for the same reason – to meet new like-minded friends!

Either way, get some new people in your life. Start a new job. Join your local mommy playdate groups if you have kids. Go to some of the free classes at your gym (Zumba is super fun!) and chat with someone at the end of the class. All of these are easy ways to start talking to some new people.

Quote: Rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life. J.K. Rowling

Excuse #3: “Leaving takes money and I have ZERO dollars to my name.”

If your abuser is one to control all of the money, then saving money for yourself will need to be done in secret.

Find ways to make and make and save money. Even if it’s a few dollars a week.

  1. Set up your own bank account. Go to a local credit union and open up a checking or savings account. Or, there are even banks that are online only that don’t have a physical banking center. Hide the debit card somewhere your partner would never find it – like, at a friends house or something. Another option is to save money and stash it at a trusted friends house.
  2. Start selling stuff. Everyone has random crap laying around their house and garage that are just taking up space. Anything that you haven’t used in the last couple of years, SELL IT. If they notice, claim you’re “decluttering.” If they ask for the money, as most abusers do, claim you sold the item for $10 (when you actually sold it for $15), give them the $10, and pocket the $5.
  3. Do side jobs to make money. Babysitting, dog walking, online Virtual Assistant, freelance jobs online. Click HERE to read my huge list of money-making hobby ideas. I worked from home as a simple online data entry person for – you work whatever hours you want as long as you work a minimum of 5 hours per week per project. There are Facebook groups like THIS ONE that are just for online jobs, as well.
  4. Sign up for apps/websites that give you cash back on your everyday purchases. I use all of these:

It may take you weeks. It may take you months. It may even take you a year to save up enough money to get out of your abusive relationship. But the main thing to keep in mind is that you have a plan and you are going to stick to it.

Quote: Sometimes, you just have to play the role of a fool to the fool who thinks they are fooling you. Unknown

Lastly, once you leave your abusive relationshi, STAY GONE.

One of the worst things you can do is leave an abusive relationship and then go right back.

This lets your abusive partner know that they STILL have the upper hand on you. And all they have to do is say the right thing (or threat) to get you back.

I left my mentally abusive relationship numerous times. But I always went back for one reason or another.

“But, I love him.” Love is supposed to go both ways. And you deserve to be loved just the way you love him. No less.

“He understands now, and promises to make changes.” Not likely. They will say anything to get you to stay.

“He promises to go to therapy.” Also not likely. If they were going to go to therapy, they would have done it a long time ago.

“He says he can’t live without me and I think he might do something to himself if I leave.” This is manipulation in its pure form.

“He threatens to hurt me, my kids, and/or my pets if I leave.” Another manipulation tactic. However, take this threat seriously, because you just never know. An unstable, pissed off mind has the ability to go off the deep end and you, your kids, and/or your pets need to stay safe.

A few things to keep in mind before you walk out the door:

  1. Make sure you have someone there with you while you are packing up your stuff and when you physically walk out the door. Your abuser will be pissed that you are leaving and things will probably get heated verbally and possibly even physically. However, a lot of abusers do not act abusively in front of other people because they want to keep up their “wow, he’s a really good guy [or girl]” persona. So having someone there may keep them from acting and reacting the way they would if you were there alone. This could be a friend, co-worker, neighbor, or even the police (you can call the police ahead of time and tell them the situation that you are trying to leave an abusive relationship and they will come out to supervise.
  2. Grab important documents such as social security cards, copies of tax returns, birth and marriage certificates, etc. Trust me, it will be an act of freaking Congress to get these things from your abusive partner once you’ve already left. They will not just hand them over after the fact without a fight.
  3. Remember why you are leaving them. And keep that thought in your mind as you start to feel sadness that this relationship is coming to an end. Also, keep that thought in your mind as they are saying anything and everything to get you to stay.
  4. Leave all material things behind. Seriously. They’re just things, and you can and will get new stuff. Take away only what you can carry and that cannot be replaced. Your goal is to get yourself (and your kids if you have them) out of this toxic and abusive situation while staying safe at the same time. Leave the rest. You are off to start a new life anyway!

Your and your children’s safety is of the most importance. And like I said earlier, you just never know what somebody may or may not do when they are heated. I have not covered all of the safety precautions when leaving an abusive relationship in this article. So I urge you to check out THIS ARTICLE for safety tips and legal advice for abuse victims.

For me, getting my strength and dignity back in order to stand up and make a change was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I was so scared. Nowhere to go. No friends. No family. But, man, once I did, within only a few weeks I was able to look back and think “damn, what the hell was I thinking, dealing with that crap for so long.” While I was in it, I was unable to look at it with a clear mind.

Here are some positive affirmations on YouTube that I have been listening to by PowerThoughts Meditation Club. Listen and believe.

If there is one thing that you take away from this post, let it be that you CAN do this. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to take some planning. And it may even take some patience. But I want you to know that you are stronger than you feel you are at this moment. As much as you feel so right now, you are not alone.

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Emotional abuse (aka mental abuse) is something you never see coming until you feel trapped.  Here is how to safely get out of an emotionally abusive relationship in your marriage.  Includes Emotional abuse quotes. Signs of emotional abuse.

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  1. Reply

    Sunday Blake McAllister

    April 5, 2019

    This is an incredibly important topic. Like you mentioned, emotional abuse is really difficult for people to spot. Well done getting yourself out of it and building a better life! Having gone through this yourself and lost friends and family, how would you recommend friends and family support someone they suspect is being emotionally abused without pushing them away?

    • Reply


      April 5, 2019

      This is an incredibly tricky topic (that may be another post in the future!). The problem with emotional abuse is that it is all mental. A loved one who is eyebrows deep in it is “brainwashed” to believe the things their abuser is saying about them. Most of the time they are in denial of the abuse and make up excuses as to why the abuser “got mad” or “they only get that way when I…” etc.

      As I mentioned in this post, the biggest thing for the abused is to actually realize and admit they are in an abusive relationship. Until that point, anything and everything a loved one says will just be taken as criticism, and will probably push the abused even deeper into seclusion.

      One of the beginning phases of emotional abuse is isolation from friends and family. If a family member suspects abuse, don’t let this “pull away” happen! Don’t be forceful and accusatory, but just make it a point to keep yourself in the picture. You will be ignored. You will be stood up. And you will probably get your head bit off a time or two if you even mention anything negative about your friend’s relationship. But don’t walk away. I remember how alone I felt (my own fault for pushing people away) and I remember how much I wish someone would have cared enough to stick around if they saw an unhealthy relationship. The “it’s none of my business, so I just stay out of it” mentality is probably the worst thing a loved one can do in this situation.

      I feel I could go on and on about how friends and family members can support because I remember how I felt like I needed SOOO much support but had none. The feeling of being totally alone is a large part of what keeps an abused person in their toxic situation.

      I may write up a post on this very topic in the near future!

      Thanks for the comment!

  2. Reply

    Adriana Avila

    April 4, 2019

    Some of the best tips I’ve ever heard…I was in a toxic relationship for 5 years and never recognized that I was actually being emotionally abused until it was already over and I had smartened up. 🤦🏻‍♀️

    It took separating myself physically from him for him to not be able to control me enough for me to decide once and for all to get out. Best thing I ever did with my life. 💜 thank you for encouraging so many to be brave. 💜

    • Reply


      April 5, 2019

      Yes, this was me as well. I didn’t realize it either until a few weeks of being physically GONE and moved out. Only then did I look back with a clear eye and thought how ugly, pointless, and TOXIC the relationship was. And even then I didn’t think of it as “abusive.” It wasn’t until years later when I noticed the long-term (possibly forever) effects it had on me. For example, I still have a hard time looking people in the eye when I talk to them.

      Thanks for the comment! I love your site, by the way!


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