It’s not easy but possible to leave an unhealthy or abusive relationship. Abuse in relationships is a complex issue that can go unrecognized and unreported for years -sometimes until it’s too late. Additionally, it causes a lot of mental and physical damage. Victims should always seek to escape their shackles no matter the circumstance; it’s not worth the pain and suffering they are subjected to.
Lilian Wambui, a mental wellness activist, endured abuse in her marriage for two years before deciding to walk out of it. Before that, she had been dating her former husband for close to six years. Like Lilian, this is a plight shared by many men and women who are victims of abusive relationships, with many being stuck and not knowing what to do.
According to Kenya government data, 45% of women and girls aged 15 to 49 have experienced physical violence (a form of abuse). A worrying statistic for a nation grappling with promoting good mental health.
Below are some simple steps that can guide you in your journey out of an abusive relationship.
Deciding to leave
This is the most critical and difficult step towards your journey of healing. There is always a high likelihood of relapse and going back to an abusive partner. This step requires you to stop worrying about all the things that could happen in the future, such as your kids and source of livelihood, especially if you’ve been a stay-at-home partner.
You need to stop putting so much fear into the future and reflect on your past. Doing this allows you to take a hard look at yourself as a person in the relationship. Also, it enables you to take a look at your wounds that are causing you to stay entangled in the abusive relationship. Further, it allows you to check what’s important to you in a partner, your values, and whether you are getting them from that person? Facing this hard reality and truth is essential towards your step in leaving this abusive relationship. Doing this is not easy by any means, but it shows that you’ve taken the big step to change your situation.
While going through this transition, learning to love yourself is crucial to maintaining your sanity, gaining strength and confidence, and the self-worth and respect needed to stay put and avoid a relapse. Part of completing the transition when leaving an abusive partner is constantly working on yourself. It can be achieved through watching motivational videos that encourage you to love yourself and have a supportive dialogue. You are enough and worthy of an amazing marriage and relationship.
Deciding to leave enables one to heal from their internal wounds and get to a healthy place which presents an opportunity to meet a great partner. You’re not helpless in your situation; it’s about your life. If someone else can make it out, so can you, make it happen for yourself.
Preparing for backlash
Deciding to leave an abusive relationship or marriage and preparing mentally and physically for it is intense. Leaving can mean searching for a new job or moving out, and it all boils down to one’s mental toughness. Applying mental toughness with the lessons one has learned about self-care usually prepares them for the person they will become after leaving an abusive relationship. When you choose to part ways with an abusive partner, they may not like or expect it, and they may not be ready to let you go. This is because they are used to manipulating and controlling you and using you as an emotional punchbag, but now that the tides are changing, they will not like it. So preparing yourself for the backlash is really about how you will self-soothe yourself when having this conversation with your partner.
An abusive partner can say hurtful things and project everything to you to guilt-trip you into going back into their cycle of an abusive relationship. What are you going to do when your partner tells you that you’re an utterly selfish human and are going to ruin your family’s life? This can make you have self-doubt and question your decision, especially if you still love them. You have to stick by your choice, learn to parent yourself, and recognize when someone’s trying to make you feel bad.
Investing in yourself
During the breakup process, one needs to allow themselves to heal from all internal wounds inflicted by their partner. You can achieve this through therapy, hiring a life coach, and watching videos highlighting other people’s experiences and journeys. You are not the only one going through the same struggle. Failure to invest will result in a likelihood of you repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Investing in yourself prepares you for the future and sets it up for what it will look like. This is necessary for you to start the next chapter of your life, which is exciting, not something you should be scared of. We all fear the unknown and may get anxious or stressed about what could happen in the future. It’s the present moment that matters, and as long as every day you’re doing things to get yourself at a better place, your future will be amazing because you’re creating it. You have to accept that your relationship is over and that now you can start fresh.
Investing in yourself also requires you to surround yourself with meaningful people. If this involves cutting off friends and family that will drag you back to your abusive partner, then so be it. It may be tough and sad, but it is vital for your journey. It also opens space for more amazing people to come into your life. Surround yourself with people that love and support you as it will allow you to enjoy things with a genuine company.
This new phase of life is really what you’ve always wanted; it’s your happiness, peace, great relationships, an amazing partner, and new opportunities. Leaving an abusive relationship involves many transitions, but you have the strength and ability to pull through.