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How to Leave an Abusive Relationship

Getting yourself out of an abusive relationship is one of the most challenging decisions you can make. You already know that It’s not going to be easy. In fact, just thinking about it gives you anxiety. The entire process requires careful planning, support, and plenty of courage. If you’re thinking about how to leave an abusive relationship, our Nantucket Family Resource Center team wrote this blog post to set you off in the right direction.

What Are the Subtle Signs of Abuse That People Don’t Mention?

NFRC wants to make a point that abuse is so much more than physical acts. Emotional and psychological abuse are just as damaging, and sometimes even more so. The fact is that the signs of abuse are often difficult to recognize — for you and others. Here are a few of the lesser known signs of abuse:

  • Constant Criticism & Belittling: Your partner frequently puts you down, criticizes you, or makes you feel worthless or not good enough.
  • Isolation: The abuser might try to cut you off from friends, family, or social activities that you love.
  • Controlling Behavior: Your partner excessively controls your finances, time, and how and where you interact with others.
  • Gaslighting: They make you doubt your reality, often denying things you know to be true or accusing you of being too sensitive about a situation.

Before anything, you need to understand these signs. You have to admit that they are real and that they are happening to you. It’s the only way to acknowledge the abuse and prepare you to leave.

Making Your Safety Plan

A well-thought-out safety plan is a must when figuring out how to leave an abusive relationship. This plan should include the following:

  • Safe Places: Identify friends or family members that you trust who can provide a safe place for you to stay.
  • Emergency Contacts: Create a list of essential phone numbers, including local shelters, hotlines, and trusted friends.
  • Essential Items: Prepare a bag with necessary items like identification, money, keys, medications, and clothes. Keep this bag in a safe place where you can grab it quickly if needed.

For more guidance on creating a safety plan for how to leave an abusive relationship, visit Love is Respect — a trusted resource for people of all genders and identities in abusive relationships.

hands in the shape of a heart

Collect Your Important Documents

Before leaving, you need to gather important documents that you’ll definitely need later. These include the following:

  • Identification: Your driver’s license, passport, birth certificate, and social security card. Try to get them all, but at least one will do in a pinch.
  • Financial Documents: Gather bank statements, credit cards, and information about any shared financial or bank accounts.
  • Legal Papers: Try to get copies of marriage certificates, leases or mortgage documents, and any restraining or legal orders.

You’ll need these documents to establish independence and navigate legal and financial processes after you leave the relationship. 

Finding Support

You don’t have to go through how to leave an abusive relationship alone — and you shouldn’t! You’ll need a support system. Here are some options to consider:

  • Friends & Family Members: These trusted people offer emotional support and possibly a safe place to stay.
  • Support Groups: Connecting with others who have experienced similar situations provides advice you are looking for and a place to talk out your feelings.
  • Professional Help: Counselors and therapists specializing in domestic violence will assist you in processing your traumatic experiences and get you ready to plan your next steps.

Legal Protection

Remember, if you’re in immediate danger, call 911. A significant way in how to leave an abusive relationship is to seek legal protections, including:

  • Restraining Orders: A restraining order legally keeps your abuser away from you.
  • Legal Aid Services: Many organizations, including Nantucket Family Resource Center, offer free legal advice and representation for people experiencing domestic violence.

For more information on legal resources, click here. The National Domestic Violence Hotline is an absolutely excellent resource.

Achieving Financial Independence

Financial dependence is a common barrier when someone is considering how to leave an abusive relationship. To achieve financial independence, consider:

  • Opening a Separate Bank Account: It’s impossible to manage your personal finances without your own bank account.  
  • Finding Steady Employment: Search for job opportunities that will provide financial stability.
  • Applying for Financial Aid: Many organizations provide financial and monetary assistance to help domes people experiencing domestic violence start over.

Contacting NFRC for Domestic Violence Support Services

Are you living in Nantucket? Nantucket Family Resource Center (NFRC) can help you. Our team provides counseling, legal aid, and a safe space to help you transition out of an abusive relationship. So, if you are asking yourself how to leave an abusive relationship and don’t know how, contact us.

For more information, visit NFRC’s Domestic Violence Support.

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