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  • Writer's pictureSara Aloimonos

Escaping Abusive Relationships

Abusive relationships can be sneaky.

Some are obvious, such as with physical abuse, whereas emotional and psychological can begin as small seeds of doubts planted in your head by the abuser that grows over time until you believe what they’re telling you is true. Or being told you’re doing and saying things that you don’t remember doing and saying… but it must be true because the abuser tells you so.

It can also involve the abuser withholding money so you’re having to ask and rely on them for everything or being manipulated and controlled so badly that you always do as they say but ‘it’s your decision’ as, again, seeds of doubt are planted in your head. You always choose what the abuser wants you to do because you’ve been manipulated for so long that you’re under their spell and don’t even notice anymore.

Abusers seem powerful with their smart tactics but they’re actually very small people. The insecurity they feel is so fierce that the need to control is the only way to make them feel better about themselves. The victim is sucked dry of who they once were and a shell remains — sometimes knowing that something is very wrong but often so stuck that there’s no way out. The abuser is now completely relied upon and plays the victim like a puppet.

Have you ever noticed someone who got out of an abusive relationship and is flourishing? They look better, are happier, and blossom into a richer version of themselves they left behind.

The most difficult part of an abusive relationship is first realizing it’s an abusive relationship (which most don’t know until they’re out of it) and then actually getting out of it. The latter is very difficult as you may be 100 per cent reliant on the abuser, be threatened with physical abuse to yourself or loved ones, have low self-esteem and have been so manipulated that your mind argues with you about how normal this situation is.

I won’t offer general advice on removing yourself from such relationships as each situation is so unique and strategies must be fine tuned, depending on many factors. However, I can offer some ways to rebuild yourself after escaping these relationships.

First and foremost, get help. Abusive relationships mess with your mind. If you can’t see a licensed professional, ensure you have great supports around you such as family and friends. Read books and learn about what you went through, the thought process of the abuser and how you have become who you are. I meet many clients who are looking to get out, are out and working on themselves or are on the other side and thriving. All had to relearn who they were and reset their mind on their future self.

Secondly, know it has nothing to do with you. The abuser is someone with low self-confidence, low self-worth and a need to control. So they control you and anyone else around them. Some are overt while others are covert. Covert is much harder to spot. Some gaslight, are narcissistic or are amazing humans, at least in the public eye. Understanding that you are the pawn being used to make the abuser feel good about themselves can help when reestablishing your worth and knowing what was said or done to you isn’t because you aren’t good enough, smart enough, or anything else you’ve come to believe. It’s their own insecurities being projected outward and you just happen to have gotten in the way.

Lastly, what do you love about yourself? Falling in love with yourself (again) is key to breaking out of your shell and living a life that’s unsheltered. Think back to a time that you were happiest. How old were you and what made life so enjoyable? Understand that life brings job changes, kids, moves, etc. Think more so about what hobbies you were into, what friends you enjoyed most, favourite pastimes, and how you felt. That’s a big one as those in abusive relationships often become anxious, depressed and small. Start to implement little bits of your old self that you cherished back into your current life.

Start talking and keep talking until you understand what your situation was about, you no longer feel like a victim, and you are moving in a forward direction to a healthier version of yourself. And remember, abusive relationships aren’t always with a partner. It can be with a friend, family member or co-worker.

If any of this resonates with you, reach out. I will help you extract yourself from an abusive relationship.

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