It is much easier to get into an abusive relationship than to get out of one. Everything from fear of retaliation to feeling helpless can make it difficult for a victim of abuse to sever ties with their abuser.
Unemployment, underemployment, codependency, and not wanting the children to suffer (though they probably already are!) can also discourage the victim from just walking away. Even worst, the pernicious prospect of being publicly humiliated or perhaps even murdered by their abuser can simply paralyze the victim.
Such are compelling reasons to avoid an abusive relationship altogether or stand ready to swiftly exit it, if you find yourself in one. However, as many victims of abuse will tell you, wanting to be strong and sagacious in this manner is not as much a challenge as finding the actual will-power and wherewithal to do so.
Therefore, I would like to impart to you invaluable insights that can help you steer clear of an abusive relationship or from staying in one. I urge you to take to heart what you are about to read because it will be useful to you regardless of your gender. Besides, your abuser’s first or next act of aggression may just be one from which you cannot recover.
Eluding or escaping an abusive relationship begins with you rejecting the idea that “it’s a thin line between love and hate.” Not only are love and hate separate and distinct ways of viewing and treating people; the “line” between these attitudes and approaches to people and relationships is as vast as the universe itself.
It is not love that drives someone to hurt you. It is not love that compels someone to attempt to control you. Much to the contrary, love brings out the best in us even during the worst of times and provides us with motivation and a manner of making the most of whatever moments we share. If your partner claims to love you, it is only fitting that they follow-up that declaration by doing things that build you up rather than tear you down.
You will not tolerate abuse if you truly believe that your own health and happiness are more important than having a wife, husband, or honey. You are just as significant as your significant other, and a diminished you is detrimental to you, your relationships, and every good thing you desire. Love yourself enough to liberate yourself from such a need for acceptance that you lose yourself in gaining it. Love yourself and others by doing what, first, is best for you.
Never allow anyone to isolate you from your family, friends, and acquaintances. These people can be vital sources of affirmation, strength, support, wisdom, and protection, and no one except you and them should determine the nature of those relationships. Do not develop the habit of neglecting your partner to please or appease others, but do not burn any bridges only to be burned by an abuser.
Be independent as well as interdependent in your relationship. Do not relinquish control of your thoughts, feelings, and desires to your partner. Always reserve the right to be yourself, to do your own thing, and to make choices that are different from what your partner might choose. Do not dummy-down for your partner, and avoid becoming so dependent on your partner that you cease to think for yourself or make decisions that are purely your own.
If your partner truly respects you, your partner will not attempt to force you to do anything, but will respect your freedom and dignity as a human being. If your partner truly respects you as a mature and responsible adult, your partner will not treat you like a child, but will offer insight into matters without insisting that you conform to their opinion.
You are not anyone’s property because you are a person rather than a thing. No one owns you, so do not act or allow yourself to treated as though you literally belong to your partner. Do not carry on in the relationship like a domesticated slave obligated to do massa’s will. Your partner does not have any rights to or over you. Be your own person and love freely, if at all. Besides, love, to be, must be free, and if you have freedom in your love, wrote one poet, only the angels above enjoy such liberty.
Be yourself, be true yourself, and honor your partner’s need to do the same. And, in so doing, focus on who your partner is rather than who you would like them to be. Try not to fall in love with a figment of your imagination because your relationship can only languish in jeopardy if it is founded on a lie.
Rely on much observation and not mere conversation to learn your partner’s true personality, priorities, and pursuits. Moreover, do not pressure your partner to pretend by constantly telling them how you want them to act. Watch how they act while always bearing in mind that a person is what they consistently do (and do not do!), especially when they are under pressure.
Be very careful about telling your partner, especially a prospective partner, what you want in a lover and relationship, because what you say can and often will be used against you. Stop working so hard and feverishly to ensure that your partner says, does, and gives you just what you want. Instead, relax, be patient, and enjoy their company while seeing what they have to offer. Do not help anyone deceive you by talking too much. Note as much about the actual person as you do their potential, and do not expect them to “change for the better.”
Express your emotions, but do not succumb to emotionalism. Emotions broken from the cage of sound reasoning and reality checks will cloud your judgment and spoil your actions. Follow your heart, but the facts as well.
Acknowledge whatever disparity exists between what you desire and what you have – between what you think the relationship should be and what it actually is. If you find too great a gap between what the relationship is and what you need it to be, exit it before it becomes the worst thing you have ever had. Do not permit your emotions to run amok in and over your life. Do not feel your way into a living hell.
The only pain you should experience as a result of being in the relationship is growing pain. Have below-zero tolerance for disrespect – things like dishonesty, “polite put-downs,” outright name-calling, tongue thrashings, guilt trips, being cursed out, threats of violence or abandonment, slapping, grabbing, and other forms of assaultive contact.
At the slightest sign that your partner is moving toward demeaning or dictating to you, kindly but sternly warn your partner that you will not allow yourself to be mistreated. However, do not be like the kid who cried wolf, sounding so many false alarms that your partner eventually ignores you.
Say what you mean and mean what you say. Do not settle for anything less than honesty, respect, good communication, and the kind of problem solving that can strengthen the relationship. Make sure that your actions as well as your words say, “If you abuse me, you will lose me.”
It also helps to understand that to forgive someone and even continue loving them does not mean that you have to maintain a close relationship with them. Sometimes a long, long distance relationship or no relationship at all is best for all.
Moreover, understand the difference between explanations and excuses. Perhaps everything can be explained, but not all explanations, even some of the best ones, are acceptable excuses. You do not have to excuse your abuser’s behavior just because there may be explanations for it. Regardless of how much you care for your partner, there might come a time when you will need to flee your relationship even while extending forgiveness.
You do not have to live with everyone you love. More specifically, to love someone unconditionally does not mean you cannot attach conditions to any aspect of your relationship.
Unconditional love means that you will always care for the person, want what is best for them, and do what you reasonably can to help them do, have, and become every good thing they desire. Nevertheless, whether you seek or sustain a romantic, marriage, or sexual relationship with them should depend on how you treat one another and make each other feel.
Believing otherwise will only make you feel obligated to stay with your partner and try to make it work regardless of what your partner is or is not doing to and for you. Therefore, adhere to this principle: We shall be lovers for as long as we are loving. If we cease to be loving, we shall cease to be lovers though I may always love you.
Misery might love company, but you do not have to be the one who entertains it. If being with your partner becomes more of a bane than blessing, get out the relationship sooner than later, especially if either of you are doing more to incinerate the relationship than to improve it.
It is the nature of love to give us hope. So, you may wish to reconcile with your partner after a time of separation. Just understand that it is best to get away from an abuser as soon as you can and get back with them only if they demonstrate in many ways, over a long period, that they have learned better ways of coping with interpersonal conflict and dealing with difficulties.
Avoid cycles of abuse, though, in which an abuser makes it a habit of showing signs of progress only to regress, confess, and expect you to continue putting up with their mess. Be courageous enough to cut your losses and cut your ties of intimacy with your partner when you notice a pattern of abuse. It is better to have loved and lost than to lose your mind, health, or life trying love a loser.
You may be a victim of domestic violence, but do not be a fool for it. Learn and change whatever you may be doing either to choose abusive partners or to encourage and contribute to violence in your relationships. When appropriate, take responsibility not only for what is happening to you, but also for why it may be happening. If you are as much the problem as anything or anyone else, change yourself as well as your situation.
You cannot have a perfect relationship because neither you nor your partner is perfect. However, you can strive to create, nurture, and sustain a perfectly imperfect relationship in which your partner and you exist for one another’s joy, forgive one another’s faults, watch one another’s back, patiently endure each other’s growth process, and give what you expect from each other.
However, if your dream relationship degenerates into a living nightmare, do what you must to end the relationship before it ends you. Get out of the abusive relationship before something happens that neither of you can get over. Stop domestic violence before it stops you.