How To Leave An Abusive Partner

Most of us prefer to love and be loved within an intimate relationship. Unfortunately, our need for affection, companionship, and security can cloud our judgment when choosing a suitable mate. In addition, both men and women are skilful at hiding personal flaws. You would not have associated with this person if you knew he or she was going to eventually abuse you.  

The Patterns of Abuse

Violence may have crept slowly into your relationship. As your partner got to know you better, did he or she lose their temper more often? Did your partner strike or throw objects at you, and then seek forgiveness from you claiming such behaviour was “out of character?” Did your partner begin to criticize you for trivial things? Were you accused of trying to irritate him or her? Were your friendships carefully monitored? Would an innocent glance or dance trigger a jealous rage and attempts to restrict your contact with others? Do you feel like a prisoner in your own home? Have you had or considered having an affair?  

Physical abuse may eventually follow verbal abuse, especially if you defend yourself. You may be confused as to what to do since abusers often apologize for their behaviour and promise never to hurt you again. Though enjoyable, these honeymoon-like periods of remorse don’t last long because your partner is an emotionally disturbed person attempting to act normally.

You will eventually be forced to make some very serious decisions when it becomes obvious he or she is simply unable or unwilling to control themselves.
 You must honestly judge the future of your relationship bearing in mind your partner is convinced his or her feelings, words and actions are justified.  They likely believe your relationship would run smoothly if you let them take charge of your life.  

Your partner’s words and actions are strongly influenced by powerful emotions over which they have little control. Such people often abuse alcohol and drugs, have very serious personality problems, and witnessed violence in their early years. As they may have been a victim of abuse as well, change is unlikely unless they obtain some form of professional counselling to address these sensitive issues. Though they need to be encouraged to move in this direction, you may be the last person they will listen to. They may even feel compelled to do the opposite of what is being asked regardless of the consequences.

Help in Planning

Good information is available from counsellors, domestic violence hot-lines, battered women shelters or support groups specifically for spousal abuse. A workable plan will make it easier for you to rise above your fear and act upon your convictions. Keep these plans hidden, as your intent to leave may increase your partner’s need to control you even more and set off a violent incident. You are in greatest danger when leaving your shared residence and also when beginning a new relationship! If necessary, explain your situation to the police and ask them to be present when you move. (Unconvinced? Check here.)

Leaving Safely

It’s time to think about these questions. Your escape plan will depend upon the answers.

  • Where will you live and how will you support yourself?
  • When and how will you let your partner know you are leaving?
  • If there are children involved, what will you say to them?
  • If there are weapons handy, what can you do about them?
  • Will Social Services, the Police and/or Legal Aid help you?
  • Do you know how to obtain a Restraining Order/Peace Bond?
  • Is support available from the local Mental Health Clinic?
  • Will someone help you move your belongings?

After You Leave

After you have left, don’t allow yourself to be manipulated by expressions of affection that aren’t accompanied by concrete actions. Your leaving may persuade your partner to take responsibility for his or her conduct. If you see consistent change and believe there is hope, have them arrange individual or marital counselling. Practice birth-control strictly if you can, as you may surrender to physical desires and loneliness.  Provide him or her with a copy of Have You Recently Been Separated From Your Partner and Family?

Ending relationships, even abusive ones, has serious emotional consequences. Join a support group if available. Since abuse damages self-esteem you may have come to believe your situation is hopeless, and escape impossible. With support and consistent effort you are capable of constructing a bridge over the gap separating you from the life you deserve.

Internet links


Family Violence Prevention
Shelter listings

Public Health Agency of Canada

Stop Family Violence


Abused Adult Resource Center
Domestic Violence

Recommended Books












Being divorced is
like being hit by a
Mack truck. If you
live through it, you
start looking very
carefully to the
right and to the

Jean Kerr