Leaving An Abusive Relationship: Why Can’t I Just Leave?

January 22, 2014 Kellie Jo Holly

Leaving an abusive relationship usually can't be done the moment you figure out your partner abuses you. Leaving abuse takes planning and time, if you have it.

So many people beat themselves up over the question "Why can't I just leave?" You want the easy answer? You aren't ready to leave yet.


  • haven't been convinced that the abuse warrants you leaving, or
  • you lack financial resources, or
  • you're in business with your abuser, or
  • the kids are too small, or
  • the kids are almost out of school, or
  • the abuser needs you, or
  • fill in your reason here.

Notice I said fill in your reason here. These are not excuses. The reasons you stay may sound like excuses to someone else, but don't let anyone belittle your decision to stay. I really want to end that sentence with "to stay for now" but truth is that you may never leave. You could be 70 years old and wondering how your spouse is managing to exceed life expectancy, them being so miserable and nasty and all (lots of people are doing this right now).

I want you to be okay with choosing to stay, because making decisions is empowering. Staying is a choice you can make.

Leaving An Abusive Relationship Is Important

Irresponsible Advice

It would be very irresponsible of me if I don't say a few things at this point.

  • I want you to end your abusive relationship. Life is too short and precious to spend it with a person who hurts you.
  • If your abuser physically assaults you, I hope you leave right now. Verbal abuse escalates to physical assault and assault escalates to death. Additionally, you may not be the only one to die -your abuser could murder you and then your children and anyone else on the scene.

Point is that choosing to stay with an abuser will have very serious emotional and/or physical consequences. It is only a matter of time.

Leaving An Abusive Relationship Is Not Your Only Option

Honoring a person's choice to stay in an abusive relationship is a relatively new concept to domestic violence social workers and other domestic abuse helpers. You might find helpers who support you no matter what you decide to do. On the other hand, you might find helpers who decide there's nothing they can do for you if you do not leave the abuser. That hurts, I know, but just because they're the experts doesn't mean they always know the right thing to do.

Additionally, many of your closest friends and family members may distance themselves from you if you choose to stay. Often we tell ourselves that they're tired of listening to us complain when we won't do anything to change it. Remember though, the ones who love you need to keep themselves sane, too. If they're in the battle with you, they may not be strong enough to pull you out if you change your mind and leave the relationship.

Don't take it personally if people don't support your decision to stay, and please don't beat yourself up because you feel you can't leave. Let's just roll with this for a while and see what we can do for our mental well-being when we choose to stay.

Key Concepts to Accept About Your Abusive Relationship

You cannot make your abuser happy, therefore you cannot make them mad, either. You do not have magic powers that control your abuser's words or actions and no combination of your words or behaviors will result in an end to the abuse.

Most everything you do and say will be "wrong", and if you are right today, you'll probably be wrong tomorrow. So you may as well do exactly as YOU please at all times. Make your own decisions, act on your hunches. It doesn't matter what you do, the abuse will continue.

You are in a relationship that thrives on your honest disclosures about yourself. However, unlike healthy intimate relationships, your significant other uses your deepest secrets against you. You cannot trust your abuser with your heart, so keep your mouth shut about it.

There will be moments of joy and pleasure in your abusive relationship. Go ahead and enjoy the sex, the compliment, the joke, etc. But leave the joy in the moment. Don't assume that because s/he smiled a minute ago that the smile will be there when you look again. Humans need joy in their life, so grab all you can.

You need a safety plan. Period. Abusers are unpredictable and you never know when you're going to have to get away from them. Thinking through a safety plan during moments of peace will help you to think more swiftly and clearly during moments of danger.

Keep people on the outside of your relationship close. Isolation is the abuser's best friend. When you're isolated from others, you lose the most valuable lifeline an abused person can have - ideas from people other than the abuser. You increase the effects of abuse by only hearing your abuser's opinions, so stay connected to the world outside your home.

Educate yourself about domestic violence and abuse. Search words and phrases like verbal and emotional abuse, side effects of abuse, gaslighting, crazy-making and brainwashing. Learning a little bit each day about how your partner manipulates and controls you lessens their ability to do it.

Concepts to Accept About Yourself

You are human; a delightfully imperfect person who can do the very best you know how to do in this instant. Every instant.

You are lovable.

You deserve respect.

You can choose one thing today and another thing tomorrow.

You are powerful.

You can learn, grow and adapt.

You do not have to accept or absorb lies, even if the lie has a grain of truth to it (see Detaching from Verbal Abuse Hypnosis MP3).

You hold God's hand, even when you cannot feel it, but sometimes you must do something differently so He can help you in another way.

You decide who stays in your life.

You decide when leaving an abusive relationship is right for you.

You can also find Kellie Jo Holly on her website, Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

APA Reference
Jo, K. (2014, January 22). Leaving An Abusive Relationship: Why Can’t I Just Leave?, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 15 from

Author: Kellie Jo Holly

April, 30 2015 at 4:07 am

I am 24 and Ive been in abusive relationship for almost two years. First it started as verbal and now its both physical and verbal abuse. My boyfriend has such a short temper any little thing I say sets him off and he just cant stop. He calls me names ,says he doesn't love me anymore and wants me out of his life . Says I never learn no matter how many times we fight. I know I should leave but I dont know how to leave Everytime we make up eventually and he tells me he doesn't mean the things he says that he loves me and needs me and to not leave . I always have hope that this is it theres no next time fight. But it just gets worse and worse. I love him which is weird cause I feel like I shouldnt love someone who treats me likes this. I dont know how to leave or even where I would go . I wish we could just end things on a mutual term. He says how I keep hurting him but he hurts me too way more he just doesnt want to see it.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 30 2015 at 6:56 am

Elizabeth, you described the abusive cycle perfectly. At this point, YOU feel guilty for what you do and say to defend yourself against his abuse. No one will come in to rescue you, and he will not give you the easy (mutual) way out. He needs you to be his punching bag so he doesn't have to take responsibility for his feelings, thoughts and actions.
Keep reading about abuse, Elizabeth. Soon your heart will catch up to your brain (which already knows you're in a really bad spot). I hope that happens before his abuse costs your mental health (depression, anxiety, PTSD, and/or dissociation) and before his hands cost you your life.
Go here:
Scroll down to the bottom of the article.
Download the safety plan and fill it in.

April, 28 2015 at 2:15 am

It does roar in my ear. ..thank you Kelli.

April, 24 2015 at 4:56 am

I am thankful that I came across this site and yet heartbroken that so many suffer everyday. My story is my own and yet it's like so many others. I very much appreciate this opportunity to share and unburden myself if just momentarily.
In 45 with 4 children, 23-8. The oldest two are out of the house and my plan is to try to leave a bad marriage of 25 years this summer, after my 17 year old graduates next month. Well, that's my plan anyway. I have thought it and planned it many times. I have left a few times but just for a few days. ...until he calls and cries me back.
Like others, I thought women who lived like I have were weak and stupid but that's not true and I know it whole heartedly.
My husband woke me up last night at 2 am yelling and cussing me at my bedside because I spent time on facebook. He has voiced his opinion many times about his hate for "Fakebook" so even though I know waking me like that is wrong, I have feelings that I should have listened.
The verbal abuse is debilitating and when it becomes physical I worry that he is going to go too far.
He is very controlling but makes out that he does things that I like so I should do the same. I am a believer but my faith is weak at times because I can't get the relief I so desperately need. But i know it's on HIS time.
Thanks ahead for reading and any kind of encouragement thru prayer or a message.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 27 2015 at 5:15 am

I waited on God too. For a really long time. Come to find out, He could not help me anymore. He'd given me ample lessons and opportunities to do something differently, but I ignored Him. Finally, when I felt almost abandoned and unworthy, I took a leap of faith, left my marriage, and guess what? God was right there to catch me. There is only so much God is going to be able to do for you if you are unwilling to follow.
I hope you understand what I mean by that. God has not left you. But you cannot hear Him because the "abuse demon" roars in your ears.

April, 21 2015 at 8:21 am

I have read these circumstances and i now understand that i was taken adantage of for seven years .i am currentlly living with a 59yr old i am 34
He abuse me physically on more than two ocassions, now he verbally abuses me.doesnt wnt me to work damage my credit rating by not letting me work.promise me marriage and let me tell all my friends and then tell me he is not ready by the way he was married twice.i am going crazy i just want to run, i droped out of my tertiary education cause he complained so much i even grew my hair natural which i hate! Just to please him cannot do anything right.i am a slave have to be constantly cleaning. He is very intelligent people who doesnt know him likes him.
is very charming to his students and
even gloats how women loves him

Christine Bigrie
April, 17 2015 at 5:07 am

Don't understand anything. I guess I am stupid, weak, now too old and worn out, easy to take advantage of.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 19 2015 at 3:17 am

Sounds like your abuser implanted many horrible thoughts in your mind, Christine. It may seem like you think those things about yourself, but a healthy free soul would never put those thoughts onto itself. Someone else did it to you.
Please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or (1-800-787-3224 if you’re hearing impaired). Their website is at and offers a chat service. It's time you called for help from people who can be there for you. Call the Hotline.

Christine Baigrie
April, 17 2015 at 4:42 am

I am 70 yrs old and have been with an NPD man for over 37 yrs. He has been so controlling with everything in our lives. I have no confidence in myself, feel dead inside, he has taken everything from me. I have to force myself out of bed or out of the house daily. Made me believe that he can do everything better, that I cannot do anything without him. He always said to me "you have no idea how much you love me". I respond with "If you love me so much why are you so mean and nasty to me" and that is most often when he has been drinking. He either does not answer or blames me. Everything is always my fault. I now have a lot of health problems and financial problems. He has dealt with our finances for 35 years. Big mistake! Will I ever recover from all this? I have been to counseling for 6 mos. now. I am alone with this. Victims services does not help much, they just give you a lot of phone numbers

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 19 2015 at 3:22 am

I understand the frustration with victims' services. Call any of the numbers they gave you that offers group support or counseling. Also, look into the Small Business Association or a Woman's Help Service which sometimes offers help for displaced homemakers. Anything you can do to get out of the house and focus on yourself for some time will help you get stronger.
Stay in counseling. Be forthright with your therapist - tell him/her exactly what you need: help dealing with the abuse until you find a way to end it.
You are never too old to be happy, Christine. Happiness starts with doing good things for yourself, and with abuse victims, that often means joining a book club, domestic violence support group, or some other local organization that lets you focus on something other than the horrible feelings of abuse.

Hurt and Broken
April, 13 2015 at 10:36 pm

I cried reading this, well, i cried reading about any abusive website that list what is going on in my life. I do want to put out there that the reason i am still in my abusive relationship is because Im scared he will attack my family as well. He has embarrassed me at my job. He has struck me in front of my parents as well as infront of my kids and his own mother. There is no boundaries to my Abusin. It can be in private or in public, wherever his rage is, I am the target. There is sometimes where there is a couple of laughs but that ends very quickly if he doesn't like my jokes or he takes it too serious. I can go on and on but i wont right now. I just felt I had to vent a little to get rid of my tears.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 19 2015 at 3:41 am

What if you talked to your family and arranged to stay with them. Any protective order you get against him would then keep him away from their home, too. If you cannot stay with them, then you can add their addresses to the protection order stating that you spend time at those places and thereby prohibit him from going near those homes, too.
Despite the negative outcomes of some protective orders, they DO WORK in 70% of cases. And if they don't work, you can have him picked up if he violates.

April, 13 2015 at 2:31 am

I've been in a relationship for 6 years, he was physically and emotionally abusive towards his previous partner of 10 years. I didn't think I'd ever let someone treat me with such disrespect and then feel like I was my fault!
I am in fact bipolar myself. I've learnt a hell of a lot and because of what I have learnt, I am able to control (to an extent) my reactions to his bullying.
It doesn't stop me crying in a heap on the floor though. He's never hit me, only "restrained" me .. or sometimes blocked me in one room if I've tried to get out during an argument. He has cheated on me several times, I do not know if they were physical but there have been numerous txt, email and facebook messages.
When I question it, I get denial and lies. In my gut I know it's true but I don't want it to be. Telling me my friends aren't really my friends that they just want to use me. I believe him every time. Telling me I should go to bed earlier. Asking me what I watched, what I've done, where I was .. at what time and for how long. I was at the shop a few weeks ago and he phoned me, I couldn't talk, I needed to pay but he got really pissed at me when I said I couldn't talk and I hung up.
As for sexual, I feel bad saying this but there has been times when I've done things because HE wanted to, not mutual. There has also been a couple of times when I was heavily medicated but aware of him having sex with me. When I have been upset about it to him, he blames me and says "you let me".
He says that about himself "do you know why I say and do what I do? ..... because I can".
And he's right. He does what he does because I let him. I've dumped him so many times but something happens and I let him back in. He's even admitted to me that he walks by my house at night. Others would find that really creepy and I would find it creepy, if it wasn't him. But in truth, I am denying myself CONSTANT happiness. Sometimes he can be so sweet. Never consistent and rarely able to help me deal with my disorder. He's often said I'm nuts/crazy/mental ... he even said that there is a piece of paper to prove I'm crazy (meaning my pdoc diagnosis/notes.
I CAN leave him. I have left so many times. What I want to know is why the hell I can't stay gone? Why do I feel the need to say thank you for the flowers he left on the doorstep? He knows I am polite and grateful, is this why he does it ... because he knows I can't be rude? Gah ... at a loss .. thanks for listening.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 19 2015 at 3:47 am

There are laws in several states that say having sex with a person who is intoxicated or drugged is rape.
You do not have to be polite and grateful to a person who rapes you. But, I get it. Best thing to do is to not speak to him at all. Never again. Not even to thank him for pretty flowers.
And change your locks so he can't come into your house willy-nilly like that.
Make it so he can't do what he wants to do WITH YOU and your body.
You'll need support, so enlist friends, domestic violence groups and the police plus anyone else you can think of that you can call instead of HIM. He is behaving dangerously, and despite the feelings of guilt for being rude to him or not talking to him, you must seriously consider your safety over politeness. He doesn't deserve politeness.

April, 12 2015 at 7:52 am

From the start my then boyfriend would call me a slut, whore pig trash etc. I thought about leaving him so many times and my heart knows I love him but my mind tells me to leave him/run.. I married him because I thought my positive look on life would bring him happiness but in fact things got worse for me- I agree with this blog as the only reason why I stay is because I have MSK- two kids one with special needs and financially I cant afford it- He would never change and his temper will keep getting worse. After reading this blog, I realized that I am not the only one out there.

April, 6 2015 at 1:44 pm

I'm bookmarking this page, I'm very happy I ran across it. Is there a free version of a safety plan out there? The reviews showed how highly people thought of it. I'd be using my joint account to purchase this (even though it's cheap, I don't have the password to check the balance. Not to mention I'd be questioned what this is).

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 7 2015 at 12:27 pm

Yes, L. You can download it for free at Domestic Violence Safety Planning. Scroll to the very bottom of the article. You'll see text that says "Download the Domestic Violence Safety Plan to print at home." Click the red letters (the link) and the safety plan will open as a pdf file.
Share the link with anyone who needs it.

April, 5 2015 at 2:14 pm

i have been in a mentally abusive relationship for 23 yrs. I was strangled years ago when he was an addict but he has since came clean but still is a mental player. We have two children together whom both are adults but I feel obligated to stay so he will continue to have a relationship with our kids. He tells his friends I am his fat arse wife and points out anything i do that he thinks is not right. This weekend I went to my parents with our kids and did not ask him to come along. The normal response I receive when I do ask is "let me see what I have going on" or "no" so I didn't ask and I'm paying for it hugely. He chose not to attend our family get together today because he is angry with me. I want to walk away but I am not able to put him on the street as he needs me financially.... I feel so stuck....

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 6 2015 at 2:35 am

He is USING you financially. If you left, he would find someone else to leech off. It is not your responsibility to ensure he has a relationship with your children. If your adult kids want to see their father, they will see their father. He sounds like a miserable man. I hope you get unstuck soon.

March, 31 2015 at 8:25 pm

Hello.. I'm 18 and I've been with him since I was 15.. He likes to control with his emotions when he is mad I have to be there trying to make him happy.. I see where this road is headed already there is much more things that he does.. I just dont see myself leaving.. And I don't want to live this way my whole life please help me. Is there any number that I can call that'll help me get my own apartment without him knowing.. Or help me get away from him..

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
April, 2 2015 at 9:28 am

Your best bet for personalized help is the National Domestic Violence Hotline ( They can put you in touch with services in your area. The specially trained people near you can offer advice on how to escape.
You will want to keep your plans secret from him. There is no number you could call for finding an apartment without him knowing, but if you work with the domestic violence services in your area, they will be a great help in devising a safety plan so you can get out.

March, 22 2015 at 4:30 am

I am a man who isn't married but after years of abuse she then cheated with a friend. One who we all knew abused his last 2 girlfriends verbally and physically. I didn't want this man around us anymore. That's the one she went chasing after. Of course he is also a sociopath and abused her in weeks. Turns out she has been a cheater her enitire life. Blames everyone else. Her daughter is a confirmed sociopath so it was there and I chose to think it would get better.
I went to a therapist who excells in abuse and betrayal. Wrote down my fears. My dreams. So I dong pick these sick people again. I did it. So fix you.
Its not them. We saw it and stayed because we all have zero self esteem . We can get it back. We can be happy. We will be happy. Get help. Churches anything. Just don't go it alone. I move out on 1/1/15. Thank god!!!!

March, 4 2015 at 4:05 pm

I need some help, I can't decide if I'm in an emotionally anusive relationship or not; I am usually so logical when it comes to things but I can't seem to be logical in this situation. I'm 18 and my boyfriend is 21, we started dating when I was 15 and he wasn't very good to me. He made me feel loved, yes, but he made me run away from home when I couldn't have sleepovers and caused slot of problems with my family. I feel as though he can't get control of his own life, and feels the need to control mine. I'm 18, Im on my year off after high school, which I'm spending working and saving money for school, and I'll be attending university in September for engineering. I feel like this guy is stifling my life, he makes me feel like I'm crazy, and as though I am incapable of having intelligent thoughts. He feels the need to belittle everything I say, and to "give me advice " on things he doesn't know about. He didn't finish highschool, got himself in a lot of debt, and can't keep a job for over 6 months, because he "doesn't put up with disrespect" and wants to be his own boss. the problem is that he's severely charming, and has me in this state of mind where I don't believe I'll find someone better. he compliments me, and makes me tea, but also is a lot more talk than action; he says sweet things more than he actually does them. He feels entitled to everything, and still manipulates his mother into giving him whatever he wants, and I still can't ever pick where to eat or where to sit in the movie theatre. One incident that severely scares me is that he falsely accused me of being physically abusive. Let me explain; about two years ago we were in his car and my friend was in the back seat, I stretched and accidentally hit his face with my hand which had my phone in it, I immediately said "oh my gosh sorry !" and was taken off guard when he instantly went silent and stern and said he wouldn't put up with a girlfriend that hits him. My friend saw the whole thing, and couldn't believe IT, she said she would leave him right there. A few weeks ago, after having forgot about that incident, he yelled " who cares!" At me after I expressed my opinion on modern day feminism, and I raised my arms saying " I do!" ( I was metres away from him" and he pulled back from me saying that he was scared I would hit him" because I had before" I don't even know what to say except that i need you to understand that it's absolutely made up, I'm scared because I feel like I'm in a weird physiological conspiracy. It's so untrue, and yet it works for him, it makes me the bad guy and puts him in a position of power, and makes me feel suffocated. It's so ridiculous. I've seen him lie to people on a whim, and he has cheated on me with two girls that I know of. When I say I want to travel and talk about my career goals, he tells me I need to be more simple and more realistic. Also, his family scares me, his mom works at Starbucks and smokes a lot of weed; he's very close to her and wants to live near her his whole life. I feel like I have this plan, I have an almost full scholarship renewable for my four year undergrad with an 80 average, I love school and work hard at it, I have good friends, my family is amazing, I can't wait to go to school and live in a city and wear amazing pencil skirts and heels everyday (haha). also I want to go to red next year, but he wants me to move in with him, because "res is frat boys and parties and Sex" I JUST WANT TO LIVE MY LIFE AND LET HIM GO. ALL HE DIES IS STIFFLE ME AND BRING ME DOWN AND MAKE ME FEEL LIKE IM IN MESSED UP CONSPIRACY FULL OF GUILT TRIPS But I'm almost emotionally reliant on his approval and love. Help me. Please. How do I let go ?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
March, 7 2015 at 8:15 am

You're right. You are the subject of a psychological conspiracy. Here are two pages for you to read:… (How did you brainwash me?) and (Learn how its done so you can undo it)
Those pages will help you see how he has created the illusion of dependency. Perhaps with that knowledge you can get away by going to school, living in a city without him, and wear those amazing pencil skirts whenever the hell you feel like it.
Have you told your parents? Or a school counselor? You need someone in your corner to keep you strong. I promise you this: if you stay with him, every future accomplishment will feel like you did something wrong if he is around. You will have no pride in anything you do and the fabulous career and life you see for yourself will be soiled by his controlling, manipulating abuse.

Christine Heiner
March, 1 2015 at 9:44 am

I am in an abusive relationship that started out wonderful--I was treated like a queen. Over time he has slowly become more and more abusive. We have been married 27 yrs---11 kids between the 2 of us. I have fibromyalgia and arthritis. Why can't I let go of my feelings for this man?
He is tired of me being sick. He has bad knees, hashimoto's, has also had depression, like me----I sometimes wonder how much of his abuse could be caused by mental and health issues. I have to stay--no way to take care of myself and children, would have no insurance for pain medication---then I would not be able to function at all. He says we can fix this. I told him I was willing to do whatever it took to get him to treat me good---he got a little hung up on the fact that it would require something of him. I want my husband--but I want the kind man I married. I don't know what happened to cause him to have so much anger against me.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
March, 7 2015 at 8:52 am

The man you married was not the real man. Your husband took his sweet time to reveal to you his monster side. He knew that if you saw it right away, he would lose you. Now that you've been conditioned to believe you love him and that you believe that the "real man" is the one you married, he's got you where he wants you - hanging from a beam like a verbal punching bag.
The kind man you married never existed.
Go to individual counseling. Marriage counseling will not help your situation. You need help sorting out who you are and what you need, and then support to remove the people in your life who cannot appreciate you for the beauty you have inside.

Elizabeth K.
February, 23 2015 at 3:47 pm

I have been married for 23 years to a man that emotionally abuses me pretty much daily. We have children together. It has progressively gotten worse over the last 2-3 yrs. My man has been diagnosed with chronic depression and has made 2 attempts at suicide. Thru therapy, it was revealed he was sexually abused as a young child. He was placed in a mental hospital for several months to help him cope and work on his issues. He is taking meds to try and help him with anxiety, etc. He has been home for several months now and I am witnessing things getting worse. I am seeing a therapist to try and take care of myself, not sure if it is helping. I know in my rational mind that I did not cause the emotional and verbal abuse that he lays on me. But.....when you hear it over and over again, it really stings. My gut says enough is enough but I just don't know HOW to leave this man. I still have 1 kid at home with us & money is a definite issue. I'm not trying to make excuses but, how do I just leave this man and abandon him- like his mom did to him. I have invested more than half of my life. But I am so very hurt, I hate walking on eggshells and being the one he blames for EVERYTHING! Life is miserable. :(

February, 21 2015 at 6:13 pm

I am married for 20 years now to such a man. I was up and down thinking I was loosing my mind. Went from totally submissiveness to hold the peace , to being absolutely stubborn. Because he has a mental illness, I have always felt bad about leaving him and then there is the suicide issues.
I was always living in fear, now and then there were those happy moments and then you think- Why can it not be like this always....He was always a charmer and I was not allowed any form what so ever to have a mail friend.
He had an affair with another married woman,claiming it was my fault for not being there for him. At that stage devastated does not even describe how I felt or what I went through. Needless to say he came with 100 new promises ,making me believe if I do not want to make it work if I did not want to take him back. I did take him back and only after one year he was with another woman again, claiming he had some needs I could not meet.
I then filed for divorce, upon which he drank some pills-----and I stayed in fear of his life. Our son has ADHD, is out of home now, but never finished school. He suffered tremendously from this wrath and still does as I am always told I am helping him to doom when trying to assist my son- who lives in utter poverty.
He always has had issues with my family and through the years I have had little contact, which I have tried to restore now- with the consequences of being told I choose my family before him. We do not have friends, because he charms the woman and cannot communicate with men at a normal pace and then the "friends" just leave.
He tells me he does not help me, because I am independent-other women need him and that is why he does what he does. He gives his illness the reason for treating me the way he does.
All the things you describe above and more is what I have been going through, thinking I was the one that might be crazy or nasty for wanting to leave. I always had to call him , he always had to know where I was and for how long. The other side of the coin is that he rarely ever calls me if he is late, he takes of work whenever he wants and he goes about doing business when ever he wants. He has lots of lady friend at work and I must always here how supportive they are.
I am not allowed to talk to men at work , because his words: He is jealous.....I am busy studying now and attend classes, even that is a threat to him and he states I do it to spend less time with him. I cannot go on anymore, never had the finances. To my surprise, he recently asked if I wanted a divorce, upon which I thought: How do I go about this, because anything you say, gets hold against you and is your fault in this man's eyes. I decided to take a calm stand and replied yes.
Needless to say- It will always be my fault that he needs other woman. I then stated I cannot continue like this, he must find someone who can give him these things he states I cannot.
There is still not finances, but I hope there will be a way. I really honestly feel the utmost sadness in my heart, mostly because I really have loved him and tried so hard and also because of the illness, which made me go on and on and made me feel less a person because I wanted out. I came to a point realising it will never ever change, just get worse as the years go by. He even told me all the men are the same and all of them will leave me. You know- everybody needs somebody-what if I am destined to be alone? I do not know- I know this, I need to care for someone, love someone, but I need that for myself as well...
There is so much more I can describe of what a person goes through-but it would be pages and pages..........
I just hope to stay sane through the process...

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
February, 28 2015 at 5:41 am

My guess is that if you stopped doing all of the things he considered to make you an "independent woman" then you would become, in his eyes, a "needy" woman. His cheating would continue because suddenly he would need the independent woman you used to be to satisfy his needs.
His cheating and other abuses have nothing to do with you. You are a person he can use to his benefit. This will not change until you cease being useful to him.
I have the theory that we abuse victims should always do what is best for ourselves because nothing we do is going to sit well with the abuser. At the end of the day, when you lie down to sleep, count the number of things you did that made you a better, stronger person that day - no matter what his worthless opinion is of it.
Keep doing good things for you and his manipulation and control will become a laughing matter to you. And once you can laugh at his ridiculousness, the sooner you can leave him.

February, 12 2015 at 6:25 pm

I am also in a verbally emotionally and sometimes physically abusive relationship. I met my now fiance through a mutual friend and at first glance he wasn't my normal type but as I got to know him he was funny, charming and I enjoyed being around him. I can know admit that he has treated me worse than anyone I have ever dated. He calls me names almost everyday such as bitch idiot stupid and even a dog.makes fun of my weight gain and stretch marks. I always blame myself for all he does to me because I choose to stay I Dont what to do. It has only gotten worse throughout the years he is bipolar and doesn't seem to want to acknowledge it. He flips out over anything and everything I can possibly say. I'm constantly terrided to say the wrong thing. When he leaves mad in my heart I think pH maybe this time he will realize how he is behaving and come sqeeuze and kiss me and tell me he is sorry. But it never is like that. He comes home mad still while I chase him around begging for attention . then other days he will be the most amazing man I can ask for. Loving caring sweet. I'm scared. I'm 27 years old. We have one kid togjeyer and I had one girl before I met him that he also brings up when we fight he says things such as pack both of your guys shit, she's not my blood or that he doesn't love her. I know hr loves us. But am I just wanting that that I think he loves us? How can he treat us so bad and that be love? I Dont know what I am doing wrong. I have changed so much but yet I'm never good enough for him. He always finds something new he doesn't like about me. Something I have to change but for as long as I have been with him he has never owned up to how he treats me. No matter what he always has an excuse and is always the victim. Please help I'm alone I feel like I have no one

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
February, 28 2015 at 6:26 am

Sometimes you have to stay "for now" as you get your ducks in a row. When you're immersed in the abusive patterns of power and control, it is VERY difficult to see your way out of them. Scroll down to the bottom of and download a safety plan that will keep you safer whether you stay or go. The planning and information available in the book will help you slowly (or possibly quickly!) remove the blinders from your eyes and help you develop the courage to do what you need to do.

February, 9 2015 at 5:52 pm

I'm in a abusive relationship i know i am and i am mad at myself for not leaving people think i like being in this relationship but i feel like my husband just knows how to control me i think about it and i don't how much of a hold he has on me. I try to do everything to keep him happy and doesn't work. He hits me and i used to fight back but it just got him more pump up i have left before and then end up coming back with him. and i have everyone tired of that, but he also goes looks for me and i fall back. I wish i could leave but i also hope he will change. and i think is this hope of him changing this hope of making him better but through this process now i'm getting dug into a hole. I feel alone and disappointed in me but its stronger than me. i have a son and i know that is not good for him to see this, i have a BA, but not job or money my family wants to help me but really can't.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
February, 28 2015 at 6:39 am

You cannot make him better, and he obviously figured out how to control you. However, many women leave more than once before staying gone for good. Don't beat yourself up about going back. However, consider each time you returned. What weakness did he prey on to convince you to go back to him? Once you figure out those trigger points of returning, you can address them and make your plan to leave and stay away stronger.

February, 6 2015 at 2:12 am

Hi Kelly,
I just discovered this blog last week and it's helped me a lot. I've been with my partner for 11 years and for most of it, I couldn't figure out why I was so unhappy when for all outside purposes, I should be happy. Now I know why I'm not. Now I know why I feel like my soul is dying. Thank you.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
February, 28 2015 at 6:47 am

Your soul may be dim, but it is not dying. It led you to a source of comfort and now it can only get stfonger, Natasha. Stay the course - you're on the right one.

January, 21 2015 at 9:18 am

My best friend has had really bad self esteem her entire life, from being abused at age 15 by a MUCH older man, to family problems, and now she's in an emotionally abusive relationship. I feel like she's at rock bottom. We have barely talked for a year but I obviously still love her, we have been friends for 10 years. She isn't allowed to talk to me, other friends, barely talk to her family, goes nowhere except work/school. He checks all of her texts, made her delete social media. The only way she can contact me is through e-mail, because he thinks no one emails anymore. She contacted me about 2 weeks ago and we have been talking, some. I'm hesitant because she's tried to be friends with me again and dropped me because he found out, or he disapproved, etc. She has left him once, but went right back not even an hour later. She cheated on him and he blamed that on me, that's why he's saying we can't be friends this time. That was a year ago. She says it's worse than ever. She is depressed, asked me about suicide, and is just very unhappy. I thought she was happy because she portrays another different story on Instagram (the only social media she's allowed to have), but I guess that means nothing. She emails me saying she's sad, thinks about her ex boyfriend (who is in prison and is a child abuser). I feel like she's deeply messed up. She won't even think about leaving him though. She provides for him and they live with his mom. He has never worked, but he just got a job this week. She has a little more free time to be alone now so maybe that's good. She thinks things will get better but obviously they won't. She emails me acting like she wants help but won't directly say that, and kind of brushes me off when I mention getting away. I don't know what to do. Sorry for the long reply.

January, 19 2015 at 11:38 pm

Siobhan, said that she has been in abusive relationship since she is 16 and she is now 27. I have been in your shoes for 11 years as well. I am 40 now and I have so much regreats about not making the desicion to leave early, when I was in my 30s. Now I fill older and fearful to initiate another relationship and constantly wonder if is possible to even find a good men to love me and respect me. I fill trap and hopeless. You are only 27, don't waiste another year.

January, 15 2015 at 3:00 pm

I just realized that my boyfriend is abusive.
I thought it was love until I read this.we started well I felt so good with him until on day he tried to strangle me, he apologized, he cried and I took him back.
But since it's been the same thing he will be calm for 9months and then bit me.He even abuse me sexually once and I was pregnant of our second baby .I was so scared of him I didn't know and I still don't know how to leave him.I don't have any savings.
He always does like nothing happened after all the mess,he will cry ,he will ask for forgiveness and still do it again.he wants to know where I am what I am doing with who.I used to have a friend and now I can't visit her anymore not if he isn't with me.
Oh my god I am just realizing how bad this is and I have two little kids who love him how can I get out of that?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
January, 18 2015 at 10:49 am

Estelle, in some ways you are fortunate to realize your boyfriend abuses you now while your children are small. If you stay (like I did) then the abuse will undoubtedly affect your children worse as they grow because they will not have a safe place to live. If you leave soon, you will provide them that safe place even if their father receives visitation.
Some of your wording concerns me because it mirrors how I used to talk. The phrase "...I can't visit her anymore not if he isn't with me" shows that you are allowing his wishes to control your words. You most certainly CAN visit your friend without him. Right now you choose to not visit her without him because you fear his reaction. But you can visit her if you choose. Keep an eye on your words <3
How can you get out of this? It won't be easy. It never is. But you're starting the process whether you realize it or not by asking the question. Visit my site at and download the safety plan. The link is near the bottom of the page and says "Download the Domestic Violence Safety Plan to print at home." Also, visit for more help and support.

January, 4 2015 at 7:30 am

Im in a rocky situation 10yrs with the father of my kids i got a restraining order granted and still see myself communicating with him.. Im so lost now dyfs is involved because the last incident sent me to the er idk i feel
In denial i hate and love him i just dont know what to do..

January, 2 2015 at 12:34 pm

I've been in multiple abusive relationships, and I didn't realize till last night that I'm in one now. I minimized it. I lied to myself that I can help him. He is bipolar and that is a disease he has which propels him into these viscious rages. Initially, I thought he's my soulmate, he loves me and he is def the one. When he was in a rage, he shoved me down, threatened to hurt me and I called the police, but before I did, he called them and lied and said I hit him now I have to go to court for assault. Even after that, he cried and begged for forgiveness, and I took him back, we got him on depacote but bipolars are infamous for stopping their medicine. And one minute were best friends but in the blink of an eye, he turns from dr jeckell to mr Hyde. He explodes and always uses excuses and often blames me and makes himself look like a victim. I finally realized, he will never change, the lie I keep telling myself.., it will get better.. I want to leave so bad but I keep justifying not too because I'm afraid he will lie and put me in jail. But I already feel like I'm in prison. It's the same as alcoholism. It's progressive, I can't control it, and I made a decision today to leave. Like alcohol, I will withdrawl and I can't do it by myself or I'll talk myself back into the problem.

Siobhan McFarlane
January, 1 2015 at 12:35 am

Hi this blog was very interesting iv been wiv my husband for 11 years he is emotionally abusive and sometimes physically he call me names shouts at me daily tells me what to do where to go etc I hate myself for not being strong enough to leave what is wrong with me iv lived like this since I was 16 am now 27 part of me knows I could leave move on be happy but I can't see this ever happening I'm stuck, I often wonder what I done wrong in a past life to be getting this in this one sorry for going on but never told anyone this though I suspect they know anyways

Felix the Fennec
December, 30 2014 at 7:35 pm

I just wanted to say, Kellie, that you are an incredible inspiration to me right now. I am a man who suffers from an emotionally(and VERY occasionally, sexually) abusive wife. Even the words you write for women are clear and concise, and don't make me doubt more like some things I read do. I often even accrue more doubt when I try to describe the situation to someone. So, anyway, another think I want to say is thank you. Reading this article has made me stronger and that much closer to getting out of here.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
January, 8 2015 at 7:48 am

Felix, continue to believe your intuition FIRST. That is the toughest hurdle for any of us to jump over because our abusers drill into our minds that our perceptions are WRONG. Felix, you don't have to prove you are right to HER. You know it. You can do this, I promise.

December, 24 2014 at 9:52 am

I have been married for ten years...its better now then it was before.but he lies and cheats.we go without.he bullies me for money.he threatens me with the kids and police.I am afraid of his threats.Can't imagine a life like this.
feel very guilty about wanting a divorce and leaving him completely. I don't know how to fix this where I can live away from him .
he has mental illness issues in his family.
How can I get away from him.far away. ????

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kellie Jo Holly
December, 28 2014 at 8:43 am

Visit and chat with a representative. You may not find concrete answers today, but they can help you follow the breadcrumbs to a solution.

December, 8 2014 at 3:23 pm

Kelli from December....I can't seem to get past the guilt ironic! For all the times he's made me feel like crap, locked me out of our financial account by changing passwords, accused me of cheating,lying, withheld, controlled - and I STILL feel bad for HIM??? What the hell is wrong with me? The kids are grown, I have a job, what am in waiting for?? I am clueless at this point. I guess I hold the key to my happiness.....I just need the COURAGE!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 10 2018 at 7:40 am

Cher you do have the courage it is there, I hope you find it xx

December, 8 2014 at 11:00 am

I live in a small rural town in the highlands of Guatemala.

December, 6 2014 at 2:18 pm

I live in a foreign country & don't know how to leave my live in boyfriend, who exactly fits the description of an abuser. I didn't know it until I wept at some of the descriptions.
There are no women's abuse groups where I live, certainly no shelters. What do I do????? Whenever I think of leaving him I cry.

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