You’ve decided that you are tired of being called names by your intimate partner. You don’t like being accused of sleeping around when you never have, and you realize you have lost touch with friends and family because of such jealous behavior. You have recognized you are in an abusive relationship, and it is time to get out. But how can you do so safely?
1. Get a new phone number
If you talk to him, you are likely to hear the “I’m so sorry; it will never happen again” or the “I can’t live without you so I’m going to kill myself” story. Consider how many times you have heard it before. It is unlikely that either will happen. If you are concerned that the suicide threat is credible, call the police or a suicide hotline number with the information.
2. Change your passwords
Anything you use a password for should change: email, bank account, credit card accounts, and so on. Access to your accounts gives him an opportunity to find out where you are and what you are doing as well as make some sort of “honest” error with one of them, giving him a reason to call on you.
3. Be prepared for contact
He’ll likely tell you that he just needs a minute of your time, and you may decide to listen because you think then he will start leaving you alone. Abusers are master manipulators, and giving him such an opportunity not only gives him reinforcement that his tactics are working but also gives him yet another chance to exploit your weaknesses. Don’t give in. If he hassles you at your workplace, talk to your boss. Abusers will typically only stand up to those they perceive to be weaker than themselves.
4. Change where you park, both at work and at home
Park near the building or by security cameras. If you have a garage at home that you never use, clean it out and start parking there. Make sure a light shines on the car or it is where neighbors can see it. These tactics reduce the possibility that he will approach you there. Regardless of where you park, he will probably leave a note or some other memento to remind you of him. If he does, try to ignore it. It is just another way for him to manipulate you. If you can’t stop yourself from reading it, remind yourself that it is an impossible story. He will not change his abusive behavior.
5. Stop listening to his voice in your head
You are leaving him because you have realized he is wrong for you, that you have good qualities and are not ugly, stupid or worthless. You deserve to be treated with respect. Although it may be tough at first, remind yourself that you don’t need him. See a counselor if you are struggling with these thoughts.
6. Get back in touch with your old self
Contact the friends and family members you have lost touch with. Take up the activities you had given up. Spend time with a group of people, men and women, to get back into a comfort zone. If someone asks you out, go. Keep in mind that going on a date isn’t the same as promising a commitment. You don’t have to worry about who you talk to any more.
Abusers don’t change, and there is no reason you need to be a victim. Although leaving any relationship is difficult, an emotionally abusive one may be even more so. But the results in the long term will be worth it.