If you’ve decided it’s time to leave an abusive relationship, you may be wondering what to do next. Whether the abuse was emotional, physical, or both, it’s a good idea to plan for how to move on safely.
Before we get into that, take a moment to acknowledge how strong you are for taking care of your needs. It’s not always easy to recognize and take action when we’re being treated poorly. You deserve to be treated with love and respect, and you’ve already taken the first step on that path.
It’s such a common question asked of those who have either left or considered leaving abusive relationships. Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer. Many factors can keep people in unhealthy relationships, including lack of money, fear, and isolation. Often, guilt plays a major role in why people stay or delay leaving.
What do we even mean by guilt?
One of the ways abusive partners get us to stay with them is by convincing us that it’s our fault when bad things happen in the relationship and that we deserve them. They use tactics like gaslighting, where they make you question things you know to be true, or act like you hurt them even though they’re the one being abusive.
They may also try to isolate you from your friends and family, so you don’t have anyone share your concerns with. When you spend weeks, months, or even years taking the blame and keeping quiet about it, it becomes easier to believe that you really are to blame. This guilt can make people feel like they aren’t worthy of a healthy relationship. And then they’re more likely to stay where they are.
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