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How did you leave an abusive relationship?

1269 Views 33 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  Turtle Woman
Anyone with experience? Please share your stories. I need encouragement.

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Depends on what you mean by "leave".

First, I left by packing up suitcases, grabbing the baby and the cats and going to a shelter. But, the next step is divorce, which I am about to file for. That has been more complicated and harder for me to do than physically leaving was.

What do you mean, exactly?
When I left I did not have the added complications of marriage or children. It was a very long term relationship and it took me three or four times before I succeeded. I was my own worst enemy. I think like any decision you have the precontemplative, contemplative, action (and something else I can't remember) stages. I role-played a lot in my head how I would do it and what precautions I needed to take. For example I was at my sisters far away from my home and when I returned home I had the landlord meet me at my house in case he had broken in. (We did not live together at that time - we had previously).

I think Comet raises a good point though...really more information is needed to respond adequately. All I can say is create a safety plan with safe people in place who can help you. A place to go that the person would never suspect or atleast where you are well protected by others. Call a domestic violence hotline, they can really help you get a plan in place. I think if you call up any hospital they could link you with a telephone number.

I wish I could help more. It is really difficult I think for anyone to face this decision.
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I waited until he was asleep, and then walked out the door with a small bag of things I'd collected over the past month, along with as much cash as I could get out of the ATM from the joint account ($500), and my cat. Then I got in the car that was under my name, and drove to my nearest long-distance friends' place.

Then I called and told him not to expect me back.

Problem is, if you have kids with someone, it's not that simple.

However, in regards to material things, I've never had a problem with shedding them like Peter Rabbit, if that's all that was tying me to a potentially fatal situation.
I left for the final time while he was at work. I had been secretly taking things that I really cared about to a friends house and then my mom offered to bring a truck and helped me load everything. I went to live with her. I got a restraining order a couple of months later. If he had come home and seen me leaving he would have had just as much right to the kids as me. I would try to get a restraining order first through a legal aid office if you have time and feel it's safe to stay while doing it. This way the police can stay with you while you are moving out and he will have to stay away until you are gone. It was free for me. If you need to leave immediately go to a shelter so they can help you. You can call a shelter and ask them what is available. I left and went back many times before the last and final time. I spent time in a shelter once. It was not as bad as I thought. All shelters are different. Some help you get apartments. He continued to harrass me even with the restraining order because I stayed in the same city and rented my own apartment after living with my mom for awhile. I found out that because I had one police report for one incident when he was arrested for hitting me I was able to be relocated by Victim Witness. They gave me $2000 to move.

If you are still at home have a small bag packed with everything you will need in an emergency to get to a shelter. Important paperwork, as much money as possible, etc.

I was told that if he hurt my kids and I knew he was a danger I could have them taken away. This is what finally gave me the push to leave for good.

Now he has to pay for a supervisor to see the kids and does every other weekend. He is not allowed to drive them either. My worst fear is that this will change one day and he will hurt them. Insist on no visitation or supervised depending on the abuse. Keep records and a log of everything.

I wish you the best. Be strong and don't let the good memories change your mind or allow you to go back. I had to replay the bad in my mind every day for a year so I would not miss him. As I got stronger and had my own life I wondered how I ever allowed my self to be treated so badly.

I went on aid and went to City college and got a work study job and worked with other single moms. I created a great support system for myself. I felt alive again. It was awesome to not have my things broken and to be able to write and read again and sleep with my kids and not be afraid every minute. Then when he found me and harrassed me and followed me and broke in my house and vandalized my car I was so afraid again and had to leave everything. Now I finally feel the safest and love my life.

If you want to pm me we can talk some more. Be strong. Blessings Woman.
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Thank you all. My relationship is more emotionally abusive than physically although my dh resents my new job so much that he has threatened to break my computer equipment several times. I have everything backed up. No worries there.

We bought a house together that I intend to keep. I am going to try playing it cool and filing for the divorce very quietly. I have supportive neighbors who are looking out for me and are wise to dh's outward normalcy and inward twistedness.

I have spent many a night in a motel to avoid the disturbance created by him seeing me working and making money. He is very much desirous of a stay-at-home and have many children wife who never holds an outside job or has money of her own. I have money in accounts he can't touch. I have assets kept in my mother's name. I am crafty and I plan to get out with my house and my sanity intact.

It is very hard leaving a relationship that has lasted years and produced children. Even if the relationship has decayed to the point of being nothing but stressful. I am trying my best and wish more than anything to get it behind me.

I do not feel like I am in immediate physical danger. Just living in the middle of a very cold, cold atmosphere in which my dh uses the children as pawns (ie will not help with them to get to me and keep me from working).

Show me how you had the strength to see as far forward as possible and how you got out.

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hi Denny! I dont have a real experience in this but have you and your dh tried counsling? If not that might be something you could try. Thats if you want to work it out with your dh. I am not clear on the whole situation.
I do want to wish you luck and courage to get through this hard time. Good luck
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We had three years of couseling. Thanks though. I have made my decision. I am getting out. I just want to hear inspiring stories about people who were in abusive relationships and did get out. But I thank you so much for the support, Christymama.

Denny, If there's any chance he might think to check out these boards, I'd edit the post that discusses some of the arrangements you've made. You may not want to show him (or his lawyer) all your cards. They are good ideas, though, definitely!! Hugs and strength to you.
I don't think he's looking or even knows I am a member here. But I thank you so much.

Thanks goodness this place exists.

Denny, If there's any chance he might think to check out these boards, I'd edit the post that discusses some of the arrangements you've made.
i had the same might think about cleaning temp files. just in case.
I was thinking that, too - at least clear out the history in your browser and the cookies so you won't automatically log in when you come here. Don't underestimate him or assume what he knows and what he doesn't....

and strength to you!
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I think I understand better what you mean now.

For me, my daughter helped me see as far forward as possible. What abuse I was somehow able to tolerate when it was only toward me was unacceptable when I saw it directed toward my daughter. I could look down the road and imagine her being abused by him, and her ending up with an abusive partner, or her being abusive. My H's whole family is abusive - the men and women both. It was so easy for me to imagine daughter following that same path. My daughter is just a little younger than yours, btw.

What also helped me, tangibly, was to write up a list of abusive incidents. I got a calendar and carried it everywhere with me for a month or two. I wrote brief notes down when I was alone. This was to prove to myself that I wasn't over-reacting. I often would forget what the argument was "about" and blanked it out. Or I would see bad events as single, instead as part of a pattern or overall problem. In addition to the dailly incidents, I wrote a composite list of the biggest offenses I could remember over the years.

Right after I left and sat in the dark with my daughter in the shelter I wondered whether I was over-reacting. My family was shocked. Everyone was shocked - maybe it was all a misunderstanding, people suggested, helpfullly (ha!). I got that handwritten list out and read it by what little light there was and it helped me stay focused and calm. No, I wasn't over-reacting. I was finally "seeing the light".

There is a lot of resistance in society to fighting verbal/emotional abuse. Others may not be very supportive of you. Marriage counseling will not help abuse - in fact, it usually makes things worse, studies show. It's so important to have the support of others. A shelter might help you. A one-hour talk on the phone with someone at the Shelter one day did wonders for my plan of action and overall direction. They were so nice and non-threatening and not pushy, but validated my fears right away.

Also, while you're quietly planning this divorce, try to get a recommendation for a lawyer from a women's shelter, or women's advocacy group in your town. Again - this cannot be stressed enough. The avg person (and this includes lawyers) does not understand abuse very well, and the wrong lawyer can make things worse for you. Better to have one who understands the patterns of individual judges w/rt domestic violence issues.

You will need that list of his abusive incidents if you want to maximize your chances for keeping the house and more importantly, for keeping your child (children). Do not assume that just because you have been emotionally abused that the legal system cares about it. They will assume that you are exaggerating and that it isn't really "that bad". It is so hard to document emotional abuse, other than you making up a list with dates whenever possible. If you have been physically abused, then that will carry some weight, possibly a lot.

Document every case of physical abuse you can remember. PA is not just one person hitting another. It also includes threats to hurt another person, whether with words, or with a fist held in the air. It includes, destroying your property. Find out what constitutes PA in your state and document whatever happened to you that is in that category. You may need it. And if you do need it, you'll need that list right away, and not in a week or two while you put it together, kwim.

Hang in there! Pm me if you want. I'm in the thick of things now, so it's all fresh on my mind.
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I concur with Comet's suggestions... I used to work as a volunteer domestic violence shelter supervisor and a court advocate for DV victims.

Talking with someone at a DV hotline/shelter would be helpful in trying to establish a plan of action if you need help formulating a plan (or just need the emotional support) to leave your abuser. In addition to helping you formulate a plan, they can provide a safe place (an anonymous safehouse) to stay in transition, in case you are concerned your husband could find you (at family or friend's houses).

Documenting instances of abuse is really important and will help if you decide to pursue a restraining order against the abuser. Having information in writing will help establish a pattern of abuse, which is often required in order to get a restraining order, in case anyone tries to write off the abusive behavior as a "one time thing" or a "misunderstanding" that will be resolved through court-mandated enrollment in an anger management class.

Please feel free to pm me if you need more info on what local (county or city) resources might be available to you if you need assistance. Or if you need a sanity check that yes, you can leave your abusive partner, and it's not you that has the problem...

Good luck! You are a courageous and strong woman.
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Comet and mothernature are right on. Also do not hesitate to call the police if there is any physical violence (hurting you or breaking anything). He will be made to leave even if not arrested and they will give you a seven day temporary restraining order if you ask in order to obtain a permanent one. This will hold more weight than 100 incidents you write down but have no proof of. Still the log you keep will help alot so please do this also. I am so glad you are safe enough and feel powerful enough to keep your home and pursue your job. You are in my thoughts.

If you can afford a lawyer do it. I am in pro per (on my own) and have to go to court almost every month because he can take me anytime he feels like it even though the judge never grants his wishes. I will be gone for a few days to court. Please keep posting if you can.
I hope you are doing well. You are in my thoughts.

Blessings Woman.
Hey guys. I'm taking some time away with a dear aunty. My next paycheck will have to go almost entirely to pay the retainer on the lawyer. My appointment is set with him. The light at the end of the tunnel approaches. Dh is being very quiet and very ass-kissy but I am staying away until that sucker gets served. It is very, very hard to leave an abusive relationship. Especially if the abuse is mostly emotional and not physical. People tend to have less sympathy for the woman in this type of case. At least that has been m experience.

Please continue to think kind thoughts for us. We want this process to at least begin and we really want it to be over soon.

My mom will be coming in a few days to help. Dd is having serious Dad withdrawl. That part is hard. Dh is often screaming so loudly at us that I have a hard time understanding why she misses him so much but she has no other dad. She thinks it's normal for dads to scream their lungs out all evening. Poor baby. Well it isn't and I am fixing it so she has a quiet home with no screaming and no threats.

I feel like Braveheart. FREEDOM!!!!!

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I am so glad to hear from you. My dd's still adore and miss their daddy after seeing him beat me and scream all the time when they were little. They are so innocent and forgiving. It's normal. They never forget though. She will understand one day. Know that and that you are doing the best thing for her in teaching her not to take this abuse. You are showing her your strength and you will pass it on to her. Keep up your strength and don't let anyone discount the abuse in your mind just because it is emotional. In some ways I think it was worse. I handled the physical better than the emotional. None of it is acceptable. Blessings
If you ever need moral support, please post because emotional/verbal abuse is JUST AS REAL as physical or sexual abuse. I concur, it is often hard to get the support you need if the abuser is not leaving physical evidence (e.g., bruises, broken bones) behind after an abusive incident....

You are a strong woman!! Congratulations in taking this step for the health and well-being of yourself and your daughter.
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