When an Abusive Partner Ends the Relationship

help for abused women

When an Abusive Partner Ends the Relationship

abusive partner ends relationshipBy Nicole H., a Hotline advocate

“There are things that can bond stronger than love, and that’s trauma… his exit was just one more way she was walked on.” – Lundy Bancroft

When talking about domestic violence, most people assume that the survivor will be the one who will take steps to leave the relationship. After all, most abusive partners do not want to give up the control they have over their partners and will attempt to keep them in the relationship as long as possible. But in some cases, it’s actually the abusive partner who ends the relationship and leaves. When an abusive partner ends the relationship, there are ways to process the breakup so you can start to heal and recover.

If this has happened to you, you may be thinking, “What just happened?” When someone ends a relationship with you, it can feel like a rejection of who you are and your worth as a person. Adding an abusive partner to the mix can magnify this pain, if not cause real trauma. According to author Lundy Bancroft, survivors in this position “experience the abuser’s departure as one final slap in the face following a long line of previous ones” and are left “feeling even more humiliated and unlovable.” Maybe your abusive partner truly wanted to change, and they left out of concern for your safety. But, chances are they were using their leaving as a final tactic to hurt you on purpose.

This has nothing to do with what you deserve or how much you’re worth. The abuse you experienced during the relationship was never your fault. This final abusive act isn’t your fault, either. This is hard, but you are not alone.

Leaving Isn’t the Only Thing That Hurts

Maybe you put a lot of time and love into the relationship. Perhaps there are children involved, and you feel the loss of the family you wanted to keep. Maybe others in your community made you feel like the abuse was your fault (it wasn’t). Maybe you didn’t get the support or legal assistance that you needed and deserved. Maybe your partner isolated you to the point where you lost connections with friends, family and even yourself. All of these factors can compound the pain of being left by your partner. Your ex-partner’s rejection or abuse may have turned everything in your life upside down for now. But in this break, a new door can be opened to endless possibilities of the happiness, love and respect you always deserved. Healing can take a lot of time and effort, but it is possible. This can be the start of your journey towards a happier and safer life!

Why Am I the One Suffering?

You have already been through so much pain in your relationship. Now that it’s over, you’re still feeling pain. Why? Part of the reason is likely because you cared deeply about your partner and your relationship. Loving an abusive partner isn’t uncommon, strange or wrong. And it’s never easy to deal with the end of a relationship, whether it was abusive or not.

Also, many survivors talk about their struggles with recovering after their abusive partner ends the relationship because they believe that their partner is not suffering at all. Maybe they’ve even moved on to someone new. This may feel terribly unfair or disheartening, but it’s important to remember that they are not “better off,” happier, or “fixed.” They are still exactly who they were when they left you. Their “love” was not loving or safe; they hurt you on purpose. You deserve to be with someone who treats you with respect and kindness. Whatever your ex-partner’s life may seem like now, it does not change how amazing and full your life can be now that they’re gone.

Tips for Healing and Recovery

As impossible as it might seem at the moment, your life will move forward and things will get better. To help you on this journey, we have some tips for healing and recovery that have worked well for many survivors:

  • Trust yourself. Know that the pain you went through and are going through is real and not your fault.
  • Be patient with yourself. We all heal at different times and in different ways. Healing often takes longer than anyone wishes it would. It is a process!
  • Allow yourself to feel your emotions. You may be feeling a lot of emotions: sadness, anger, loss, resentment, frustration, confusion, fear, love, relief, loneliness, hope. These feelings are normal, and it’s important to allow yourself to work through them. Being present and getting through this rough patch means you are that much closer to a healthier, more peaceful life. If you ever feel like your emotions are too much to handle, you deserve to seek support. Trusted friends, family members, a counselor or therapist, hotlines, support animals, or support groups are all good options. Try to remember: you can and will get through this.
  • Practice self-care. Anything you can do to show yourself the love you always deserved, calm yourself, or even distract yourself in healthy ways can really help. If self-care feels like too much to think about, or you feel like you don’t even know what you enjoy anymore, Scarleteen has a great list of ideas! If you enjoy journaling, check out these tips from Your Life Your Voice. Reading books, watching funny movies, moving your body in ways that feel good to you, meditating, learning a new skill, or just getting back into a regular meal routine are all great ways to take care of yourself, too.
  • Block and shut down triggers. Try to identify the things that remind you of the relationship or trigger negative feelings. These can include old meeting spots, songs, or items in your home. Do your best to avoid them or rid yourself of them as you heal. If you’re following your ex-partner on social media, you might consider unfollowing them or blocking them from your feeds. You might be tempted to check their Facebook or other social media accounts for updates, and that feeling is normal. But, take a deep breath and remind yourself that it will likely not make you feel better. It’s difficult to move on from someone and put them in your past when they are still an active part of your present. Continuing to look at their pages and accounts will only keep them a part of your present. With time and practice, you can stop giving them your energy. Consider changing your number and locks, if necessary. Also, you have the right to avoid being around people who don’t make you feel comfortable and supported. This is you getting your control and power back. That is huge!
  • Change it up. Whether it is your looks, routine, or even your environment, consider making changes that represent this new and endlessly loving start of your life.
  • Above all, be gentle with yourself. If you end up back in contact or even back together with your ex-partner, that doesn’t mean you failed or are to blame at all. It’s also important to recognize that, even if your abusive partner left you first, it doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you could not have left them at some point. Abuse is difficult to recover from for anyone. There are many reasons why a person might stay with or return to an abusive partner. No matter what, know that you deserve to be safe and happy, always.

Remember, this is not your final destination. Take things one day at a time. You can be happy and safe again – if not happier than ever.

If you need support, resources or just someone to talk to about your relationship, Hotline advocates are here for you 24/7/365. Call us at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) | 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) or chat by selecting the Chat Now button right here on our website. Chat en español 12-6 p.m. Hora Central.

Comment section

18 replies
  1. [Admin note: This comment has been modified for safety per our community guidelines]

    Thank you for this website! I plan on leaving my abusive boyfriend. I am glad to know it wasn’t me although, he blamed me for his angry outbursts ” you can’t do anything right, you, you you!!” Unfortunately, he wasn’t honest about his medical background!! Manic Depressive, ADHD, PTSD, Hep. C and on and on!
    Had this “man” been honest, l would not be here! Wish me luck

  2. I have been in an abusive relationship for 12 or more years.
    I didn’t really realize it until the last 3 years.
    Just thought I was being to sensitive or wishwashy.
    Never have been hit and I think that’s because I was imfatic during arguments that it would end our marriage with no going back. But verbal and emotional abuse still continue even now.
    I’m trying to arrange to get out of this, I don’t drive or work right now,I don’t even have a car. With some help from friends and Domestic Violence people I’ll get my life back.

  3. Hi Linda,

    Thank you for your comment. We’re so sorry to hear that your boyfriend treated you this way. There is no excuse for abuse, and you never deserved it. We are here if ever you’d like to talk through your situation. Just call 1-800-799-7233 or chat here on our website!

  4. Hi Trina,

    Thanks so much for your comment. We are so sorry to hear that you have been treated this way, but glad that you are ready to take steps to find safety. If you’d like to talk through the situation, or if you need help creating a safety plan or finding resources, please give us a call anytime at 1-800-799-7233 or chat here on our website!

  5. I recently sent my husband back to jail for a second time for domestic violence. I already took protective steps and we are not in contact. I have known him since we were 18 and essentially he was my high school sweetheart and we reconnected 4 years ago. He was not abusive in our previous relationship and I can’t imagine what changed in his life that made him become this person he has been for 3 years. I use to excuse it on his medical issues and medicines he was on.. But so did he. And I started to realize that it was a choice he was making. So I made the choice to stop being his victim and had him put away. I love him but I love myself more and I will get past this storm. Thank you for all the helpful information here.

  6. Hi Nancy,

    Thank you for sharing your story with our community. It sounds like you have been through so much, and we are very glad to hear that you are safe now. “I love him but I love myself more” – that is just so beautiful and inspiring. If you ever need additional support or resources on your healing journey, we are here for you!

  7. [Admin note: This comment has been modified for safety per our community guidelines]

    My spouse and I have been together for 26 years, … we been living together since, he is the breadwinner of the house. Everything was going good until … he met a prostitute, who enticed him with pseudo love and drugs, he quickly became addicted to both, Our relationship fell apart. We almost separated, but stay together, I moved us out of [city] seven years ago, away from the drugs and the scene. Now I have reasons to Believe my spouse is having affair again and doing drugs again. Whenever he’s high he becomes belligerent, he purposely say hurtful things that happened to me in the past that I share with him in confidence to get me to cry, get me upset, get me angry. Would this be consider mental abuse?

  8. Hi Bonn,

    Thank you for your comment. You have been through so much pain already. Please know that your spouse’s decisions are his own and not your fault. Purposefully saying hurtful things to anger and upset you is verbal abuse, and drugs are not an excuse for his behavior. It sounds like you did what you could to maintain the relationship, but he has made the choice to continue acting in hurtful ways. You deserve support, and we are here to help in any way we can. We encourage you to give us a call at 1-800-799-7233 anytime, or you can chat here on our website by clicking the “Chat Now” button between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time.

  9. I was in a relationship for 4 years now. It took a couple of years before I realized I was being verbally and emotionally abused on a constant daily basis. I didn’t realize what was happening because I wasn’t being hit but I knew I constantly hurt every single day. The relationship has just recently ended and although there is a sigh of relief I also feel hurt, sad, betrayed, angry, confused, and happy all at the same time. I have so much anxiety now I sometimes feel as if I can’t even think straight. I just want to be me again. The woman I was.

  10. [Admin note: This comment has been modified for safety per our community guidelines]

    Hi I was asked out by a man called … I’ve seenever him before as he lives not far from me I took a neighbour to court for harassment and calling my autistic son names .
    This man saw how upset I was and offered to take me home safely . When I got home I offered him a cup of tea to thank him aso I was making the drinks he put his arms around me and said he fancies me then tried to kiss me using his tongue I pushed him away and asked what are you doing he replied I love you I said go home now my son saw what he did and was little upset and embarrassed he said I’ll have my drink go toilet then go
    Then I heard my bedroom door open upstairs I was scared but went up to see what was happening and I said what are you doing in my bedroom he replied I’m just getting your bed ready for us to have a good cuddle I said get out he said but I wanth to stop with u then I got my phone to call police then he went downstairs and spoke to my son he didn’t talk as he was too scared again [he] tried to kiss me holding my face tight and hand up my top of pushed him and told him to get out I did swear at him eventually I got him out of my home but he kept banging on my door till way gone 3 am then he slept outside my door then again at 5am started banging and shouting he needs toiletc but refused to let him in my son was tearful and tired he has autism . I did call police but they said not enough tof arrest him .I’m still receiving texts from him calling me a liar and a mad women I have epilepsy and this has caused lots of stress .

  11. Hi Zoe,

    This sounds like a very scary and stressful situation. This man had no right to treat you this way and scare you and your son. We’re very sorry to hear that the police were not supportive, as it sounds like you have experienced assault and harassment. We would like to help you in any way we can. Please contact us directly by calling 1-800-799-7233 (24/7) or chatting here on our website between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time. In the meantime, it might be a good idea to save any texts he sends and document his behavior, if you are able to do so, in case you decide to contact the police again.

  12. Hi Rosalyn,

    Thanks so much for your comment. What you’re feeling is totally understandable and normal. Abuse causes a lot of trauma, but the end of a relationship is never easy to deal with. You absolutely deserve support as you continue to heal and move on from this relationship. We’re here to help in any way we can. If you feel ready to talk, please give us a call at 1-800-799-7233 (24/7) or chat here on our website between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time.

  13. [Admin note: this comment has been modified for safety per our community guidelines]

    I’m in a relationship with the father of my daughter and he was jailed for assaulting and trying to kill me he was very verbally and mentally abusive to me and I’m pregnant and pretty much living out of my car we had made a descision that I would be a stay at home mom and we moved to his familys home and his family wanted me to leave saying it was my fault he almost cut my hand off and tried to shoot me before being arrested and I should have just not said anything and called the police to have me removed and I really don’t kno what to do and I just really don’t want to go to a shelter

  14. Hi Chasity,

    This sounds like such a scary and difficult situation. We’d like to help you create a plan to stay safe and talk through the next steps you want to take. We may be able to locate some resources to help as well. Please give us a call at 1-800-799-7233 (24/7) or chat here on our website between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time.

  15. [Admin note: This comment has been modified for safety per our community guidelines]

    Hi I’ve been with my husband for about [] years only married last [] of those yrs.we have broken up /spilt more times than I can count but always get back together.he has always been over protective hates for me to go anywhere alone.I used to think it was safely reason but now its cause he believes I’m cheating which I’m not.yes I was the other woman please don’t jugde I deeply regret it and have many times asked god to forgive that sin.he has always been over controlling..he controls everything in my life down to how I laugh..now he takes my car keyes(car not in his name not even insurance) and hides them or takes them to work so I can’t leave for a few days…I feel like I’m a grounded 16yr old.he knows my dad is on hospice with his heart and we are not sure how long he has left and he knows I’m a daddy’s girl. My parents have helped him more than anyone in his family or friends.when he gets real mad he will say” now you will sit home and rot and never see your family again how does it feel to not be able to see your dad again” he knows that hurts worse than anything.my son lives with them to help out.he has never hit me and is always threaten me but after a day or next he gives me my keyes back and Says go see your dad I know he wants to see you.I’m doing this for your dad cause you don’t deserve anything not even to be breathing.he has told me ALOT that he will kill me if I leave him..he runs his mouth saying he is gonna do a lot of stuff but always backs down.I’m leaving him while he is at work..do you think he will hunt me down and kill me?? He told me that once before and I left and all he did was send ugly texts for a few days..pleaseeeee tell me your honest opinion.. Thank you

  16. Hi Renee,

    Thank you for sharing your story. You have been through so much, and you never deserved to be treated this way by your partner. It sounds like your partner is very emotionally and verbally abusive, and there is no excuse for that behavior. You know your situation best, but if you need help creating a safety plan for when you leave, we definitely encourage you to get in touch with us. Please call 1-800-799-7233 (24/7) or chat here on our website between 7 a.m. and 2 a.m. Central time.

  17. The scary part with emotional abuse is that its hard to detect. A little thing here and a little thing there. I was always justifying him. He is just a little jealous, possesive, he knows whats best. Itcame to a point where he controled who I was facebook friends with, where I would go, what time I would be back, what I would where. If he didn’t get what he wanted the silent treatment began. Complete disregard of my feelings. It sucks because these ugly moments are masked with the “kindness” the show.
    He broke up with me because a male friend came over to the house for coffee. Keep in mind he knew about it and said he was ok with it only to call me an hour later to tell me “he has 10 minutes to leave” – in which i replied no. He did not speak to me for 5 days and then simply broke up with me. As he described I was disrepectful and did not do what I was told. Also described me as a cheater – even though he know I was just friends with the guy. He tried to keep communication by texts or bringing me food to work “because I cant take care of myself”. When I cut him off he replied you will never find someone to love you as much as I do, you will regret this one day. Oh! Forgot to mention the best part
    “Im good for nothing excelt for staying home and getting f*****”

    It sucks because you want to believe the best in people and just end up with a big hole in your heart. I will go back to crying now but hope that sooner than later I will get past this.

    Thank you for the support!

  18. I’ve been married for 6 years but never realised I was in an emotional abusive relationship. The last straw was when I got the usual Silent Treatment again for telling him that my stepson who is 27 is disrespectful because of the way he talks around us when he visits, always swearing, etc. He told me I had no right and that I must f****off and find another place to live. We work together so when I stayed out of work the Monday he told our boss I am going to hand in my resignation without my knowledge putting my job in jeopardy. To cut a long story short I’ve decides to leave him because these fights occur every 2 months where he ignores me for days. One minute he’s amazing the next he’s become an Iceberg. I have found another job which pays better and I will find my own place and start my life refreshed, renewed and positive. He wants to be nice to me now that I took control of the situation but it’s too late. I am 46 years old but remember it’s never to late to start again.

    No one can make you feel inferior without your consent – Eleanor Roosevelt quote

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