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Published on January 23, 2020

How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship and Start Afresh

How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship and Start Afresh

When you meet someone to whom you are romantically attracted, most people don’t ever think for a minute that the relationship will turn abusive. Most of us hope to live a fairy tale love story and ride off into the sunset deeply in love.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen for a lot of people. Many find themselves in an abusive relationship.

If you’ve never been in one, you might wonder why someone would ever tolerate that negative behavior toward themselves. Well, it’s not as simple as it sounds. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to say, “why don’t they get out?” But from the inside, it’s a much different experience for most people who are abused.

How Does it Start?

Believe it or not, most abusive relationships start out just like any other. The abuser is typically very charming and charismatic. The abusee falls for the “act” they are putting on and, as a result, probably falls in love with them.

But that’s not the REAL person. The real person, deep down, is abusive.

It happens slowly. To explain better let me use a metaphor.

Let’s say you like to eat frog legs (I know most people don’t, but remember, this is just an analogy). So, one day you catch a frog yourself and intend to cook it by boiling it in hot water.

If you drop the frog into boiling water, it will be shocked and try to get out. Because of the suddenness of the change, they notice it immediately.

But, if you put the frog in room temperature water first, and then slowly, very slowly, turn up the heat toward boiling, then the frog won’t really notice until it is too late. It happens almost without the frog knowing it.

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You see, that’s what happens in abusive relationships most of the time. The abuse starts slowly, and then apologies come. And then forgiveness. Then more abuse, and more, and more, until it finally escalates into full-blown abuse.

That’s why it’s sometimes difficult for someone to recognize when they are in an abusive relationship.

What Are the Signs of Abuse?

In order to get out of an abusive relationship, you first have to admit to yourself that you are in one. You can’t change what you don’t recognize. Again, that might sound like an easy thing to do, but it’s not for many people. So, here are just a few signs that you are in an abusive relationship.

1. Name-Calling

“B*tch,” “Wh*re” and many other horrible names can be used when the abuser is angry. They use these words to degrade you and ruin your self-esteem.

See, an abuser can’t really abuse you if you love yourself – because you won’t stand for it. That’s why they have to call you names.

2. Insults

In addition to name-calling, any other kind of insult will be flying your way, too. They could call you fat, dumb, a slob, idiot, “no one likes you,” or anything else. Again, this is the abuser’s attempt to continually destroy your sense of self and self-esteem.

3. Gaslighting

Gaslighting is a psychological technique of manipulation that makes someone question their own sanity. You are constantly second-guessing yourself. You frequently ask yourself, “Am I too sensitive?” and feel confused or even crazy.

You might even find yourself apologizing all the time even if you think you’re not really wrong. But the abuser makes you THINK you are wrong.

4. Jealous and Controlling Behavior

Unfortunately, most people think jealousy is a sign of love. But really, it is not. It is a sign of insecurity and anxiety.

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If someone is jealous, they will naturally try to control your actions, such as, “You can’t talk to that guy at work.” They will eventually try to control your whole life if you let them.

5. Isolation

In more extreme abusive relationships, the jealous and controlling behavior can lead to social isolation. In other words, the abuser won’t let you see your family or friends anymore. Because if they do let you, they might try to talk some sense into you and convince you to leave your abuser.

6. Blaming You for Everything

They never take personal responsibility for anything – because everything is “your fault.” This could also be a part of the gaslighting strategy as well. They think they can “do no wrong,” and therefore, YOU are the person who needs to change – not THEM.

7. Physical Violence – Even If Just Threats

Most people know that physical violence is a sign of an abusive relationship. However, perhaps you grew up in a family where you or someone else was physically abused, so you might think it’s a “normal” part of a relationship.

Let me assure you – it is NOT. Even mere threats of physical abuse is abusive behavior.

How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship

Now that you know some of the signs of an abusive relationship (although there are many more), let’s talk about how you can get out.

1. Document Everything

Write everything that happens to you down in a journal or diary. The reason for that is two-fold:

First, it will help you to NOT question your sanity. Documenting what you said and what they said (and did) really helps put things into perspective.

Second, it can serve as documentation if you need to file a restraining order or have to prosecute them in some way. There are apps out there that can help you. For example, if your abuser is degrading and threatening you, then you can hit a secret button on your phone and it will start recording them.

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2. Pack an Emergency Bag

You never know when you are going to have a chance to leave. Kind of like when you have a baby, you just don’t know when the moment is going to strike.

So, pack a bag and have it ready to run out the door when the time is right. And if you have children, have theirs packed too. If your abuser has kept you isolated, this is especially important because maybe they don’t even let you leave the house – and as a result, they keep a close eye on you.

3. Have a Plan

It’s one thing to leave, but it’s another thing to know where you are going. If you have supportive family and friends, then the most obvious choice would be to live with one of them.

However, if your abuser is really crazy and violent, that could also potentially put them in harm’s way. You could also go to a women’s shelter or any other place that helps abused women.

Wherever you go, you have to have a plan set in stone before you leave.

4. Save Money in a Secret and Accessible Place

This will be a lot easier if you have your own job. However, even if you don’t, you can try to find money around the house and slowly save enough until you have some to leave.

Perhaps get a secret job where your abuser won’t find out if possible. But obviously, you don’t want to have your abuser know. It’s best to keep it out of the house with a trusted family member or friend if possible. Or even open your own secret bank account at a different bank.

5. Alert Your Family and Friends

If you have supportive family and friends, you will need to alert them of your plan. Tell them exactly what is going on in the relationship so they know that you could be leaving at moment’s notice.

If you’ve been in an abusive relationship for a long time, they might not actually believe you are leaving “this time” (think “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”) But assure them that you are serious this time and have them help you follow through with your plan.

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6. Block and Disengage with your Abuser

Unfortunately, many people who are successful at leaving abusive relationships just sabotage themselves by going back. You can’t do that! I mean, what’s the point? In fact, your abuser will probably get worse because you had the courage to leave them, and that will make them angry!

So, STAY AWAY. Block their phone number. Block them on social media. Don’t post on social media so they can’t find you.

Completely disengage with them so you can move on with your life. That is the ONLY WAY. Because if you don’t, then they will make you think that they “changed” with their apologies and empty promise. I guarantee you that they won’t change – so don’t believe them!

Final Thoughts

While most people think of men as being the abusers in a relationship, it can also be the other way around. There are plenty of men in the world who are being abused by women, but they are probably too afraid/proud to admit it. It doesn’t matter your gender – abuse is abuse. And it needs to stop.

Remember this: You need to get some counseling or therapy before you enter into another relationship. You need to figure out what it is about you that allowed the other person to abuse you in the first place. There are many reasons, and many are unique to each individual. But you need to sort that out within yourself so you don’t attract another abuser the next time.

It might sound near impossible to leave an abusive relationship, but it’s not. Many people have done it before, and you can too.

More Relationships Advice

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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Last Updated on October 14, 2020

Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

Had a Bad Day? 7 Ways to Rebound From It and Feel Good Again

Today didn’t turn out as you planned, but it doesn’t mean you’re weak. It simply means that you’re human, and you’re not bad just because you had a bad day.

“Not everyday is a good day but there is something good in every day.” -Alice Morse Earle

It’s not the end of the world when you find yourself thinking “I had a bad day,” but it can feel like it. You may have had plans that fell apart, experiences that set you back, and interactions that only did harm.

You may have started the day thinking you could take on it all, only to find you could hardly get out of bed. When you have a bad day, you can forget to look at the good.

Sometimes, self-care helps us to remember why we are worth it. It helps us to recharge and reset our mindset. It helps us to know that there are still options and that the day isn’t over yet.

Love yourself today, no matter how hard it’s been. That’s the way to find yourself amidst the hardships you have. That’s how you center yourself and regain focus and live a more meaningful life. Give yourself some credit and compassion.

Here are 7 ways to rebound from a bad day using self-compassion as a tool. If you had a bad day, these are for you!

1. Make a Gratitude List

In a study on gratitude, psychologists Dr. Robert A Emmons and Dr. Michael E. McCullough conducted an experiment where one group of people wrote out gratitude lists for ten weeks while another group wrote about irritations. The study found that the group that wrote about gratitude reported more optimistic mindsets in their lives[1].

Overall, having a gratitude list improved well-being and made one truly grateful by counting the blessings in their lives.

Write a list of what you are grateful for if you had a bad day. Make it as long as you like, but also remember to note why you’re grateful for each thing you write.

What has given you the most joy? What has set you up for better days? Keep a tally of triumphs in mind, especially when you do have the bad days.

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The day doesn’t define you, and you still have things of value that surround you. These could be material things, spiritual connections and experiences, relationships, basic needs, emotional and mental well-being, physical health, progress towards hopes and dreams, or simply being alive.

Here are some other simple ways to practice gratitude.

2. Write in a Journal

Journaling affects your overall mental health, which also affects physical health and aids in the management of stress, depression, anxiety, and more[2].

All you need is a pen and paper, or you could do an online, password-protected journal such as Penzu. The key is to get started and not pressure yourself on how polished or perfect it is. You don’t need to have prior experience to start journal writing. Just start.

Write out everything that is bothering you for 15 minutes. This helps with rumination, processing problems, and can even aid with brainstorming solutions.

However you approach it, you can find patterns of thinking that no longer serve you and start to transform your overall mental state. This will impact all areas of your life and is a great coping skill.

3. Meditate

Meditation can help you overcome negative thought patterns, worrying about the future, dwelling on the past, or struggling to overcome a bad day[3]. It shifts your mentality and helps you focus on the present or any one thing you truly want to focus on.

Here is an example of a meditation you can do:

Get into a comfortable position. Close your eyes. Rest your body, release tension, and unclench your jaw. Tighten and release each muscle group in a body scan for progressive muscle relaxation.

Focus on your breath, taking a few deep breaths. Let your belly expand when you breathe in for diaphragmatic breathing. Empty yourself completely of air, then return to normal breathing.

Next, focus on the idea of self-love and let it erase negative thoughts. Think about the ways you’ve been judging yourself, with the narratives coming up that your mind may create.

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Give yourself unconditional love and release judgment. Take your time meditating on this because you matter. This is particularly important if you had a bad day.

Check out this article for more on how to get started with a meditation practice.

4. Do Child’s Pose

Yoga Outlet says:

“Child’s Pose is a simple way to calm your mind, slow your breath, and restore a feeling of peace and safety. Practicing the pose before bedtime can help to release the worries of the day. Practicing in the morning can you help transition from sleeping to waking.”[4]

When you do Child’s Pose, it can be between difficult positions in yoga, or it can be anytime you feel you need a rest. It helps you recover from difficulties and relax the mind.

It also has the physical health benefits of elongating your back, opening your hips, and helping with digestion[5].

To do Child’s Pose, rest your buttocks back on your feet, knees on the floor. Elongate your body over your knees with both arms extended or tucked back, with head and neck resting on the floor[6].

Had a bad day? Try Child's Pose.

     

    Do this pose as a gift to yourself. You are allowing yourself to heal, rest, get time for yourself, recover, and recharge. When you’ve had a bad day, it’s there waiting for you.

    5. Try Positive Self-Talk

    Engage in positive self-talk. This is essentially choosing your thoughts.

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    When you have a negative thought, such as “I can’t do this,” replace it consciously with the thought “I can do this.” Give yourself positive affirmations to help with this.

    Negative self-talk fits into four general categories: personalizing or blaming yourself, magnifying or only focusing on the negative, catastrophizing or expecting the worst to happen, and polarizing or only seeing back and white[7].

    When you stop blaming yourself for everything and start focusing on the positive, expecting things to work out, and seeing the areas of grey in life, you reverse these negative mindsets and engage in positive self-talk.

    When you speak words of kindness to yourself, your brain responds with a more positive attitude. That attitude will affect everything you do. It’s how you take care of yourself if you had a bad day.

    Check in with yourself to know when you are having negative self-talk. Are you seeing patterns? When did they start to become a problem? Are you able to turn these thoughts around?

    6. Use Coping Skills and Take a Break

    Use your coping skills. This means not letting your thoughts take control of yourself.

    You can distract yourself and escape a bit. Do things you love. You can exercise, listen to music, dance, volunteer or help someone, be in nature, or read a book.

    It isn’t about repression. It’s about redirection. You can’t stay in thoughts that are no longer working for you.

    Sometimes, it’s okay to get out of your own way. Give yourself a break from the things going on in your head. You can always come back to a problem later. This may even help you figure out the best course of action as sometimes stepping away is the only way to see the solution.

    If you had a bad day, you may not feel like addressing what went wrong. You may need a break, so take one.

    7. If a Bad Day Turns Into Bad Days

    “I believe depression is legitimate. But I also believe that if you don’t exercise, eat nutritious food, get sunlight, get enough sleep, consume positive material, surround yourself with support, then you aren’t giving yourself a fighting chance.” –Jim Carrey

    If you’ve been feeling out of control, depressed, or unstable for more than a few weeks, it’s time to call a mental health professional. This is not because you have failed in any way. It’s because you are human, and you simply need help.

    You may not be able to quickly rebound from a bad day, and that’s fine. Feel what you feel, but don’t let it consume you.

    When you talk to a professional, share the techniques that you have already tried here and whether they were helpful. They may tell you additional ideas or gain insights from your struggles of not being able to rebound from a series of bad days.

    If you’re having more than just a bad day, they will want to know. If you don’t have the answers, that’s okay, too. You just need to try these tools and figure out how you’re feeling. That’s all that’s required of you.

    Keep taking care of yourself. Any progress is progress, no matter how small. Give yourself a chance to get better by reaching out.

    Final Thoughts

    If you had a bad day, don’t let it stop you.

    Know this: It’s okay not to be okay. You have a right to feel what you feel. But there is something you can do about it.

    You can invest in yourself via self-care.

    You are not alone in this. Everyone has bad days from time to time. You just need to know that you are the positive things you tell yourself.

    More Things You Can Do If You Had a Bad Day

    Featured photo credit: Anthony Tran via unsplash.com

    Reference

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