The Fear of Leaving and Coping Alone



by Annette Young

When you are deep within the clutches of an abusive relationship, you’ll experience a multitude of emotions – mostly negative ones. There may be feelings of depression, a desire to withdraw physically or emotionally and you’ll often feel trapped and alone within the relationship. Although these feelings are negative, they are also very powerful and will keep you hanging in there as the days, weeks and even years go by and your self-esteem erodes. But if life is so unbearable, why not just walk away?

Fear is an intrinsic part of an abusive relationship. If you live with a bully – whether violent or manipulative verbally, you feel the weight of this threat hanging over you constantly. You don’t know when it’s going to happen, you are just pretty damn sure that it will. This perceived and barely concealed threat also causes a chain reaction in emotional terms because the core feeling of frustration, fear and anger manifests outwards into everything you do. It doesn’t matter if it’s the little things in life – cooking, ironing, cleaning…you are always looking over your shoulder in case you are picked up for doing something wrong. Sadly, you always will in the eyes of an abusive partner.

Fear has another effect; it puts a strangle-hold on your leaving. Even if your financial state is healthy, actually packing up to go is another thing altogether. You might say it, shout it and stamp your feet while dramatically throwing things into your suitcase, but your partner knows that his control over you is pretty much secure. What you want inwardly is contrition from him, you want him to say he’s sorry – and mean it. You want him to throw his arms around you and say he’s realised his mistakes and he’ll change. An abusive partner may do that or, he’ll just let you pack and revel in the glee that you won’t ever get to the door and if you do, you’ll never cope without him.

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But there’s your real fear, will you cope without him? This terrifying fear residing right in the heart of you has the power to overcome the fear of staying with him. Make no mistake – this fear is crippling your chances of escaping and finding someone decent, one who truly cares for you.

So let’s figure out if you can survive without the bully in your life:

  • No more insidious or cutting remarks
  • No more physical threats
  • The chance to live your life as you see fit
  • The potential for inner peace and well-being

From my perspective, one who’s faced the same dilemmas as you, life on the outside of a relationship is pretty good. I’d choose peace and quiet and contentment over a torturous and volatile relationship any time. The hardest part of starting over is actually walking out the door. It takes courage and sometimes it takes time before that ‘last straw’ snaps and you are finally ready to take action. Believe me, once you have done so, life starts getting dramatically easier.

Does this article resonate with you? Need to find out more about emotional abuse?

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