I know that I promised this post awhile ago, but the truth is that I waited because this is still a topic that has been hitting very close to home for me these last few weeks.
When I finally found the courage and strength to break up with my ex-boyfriend, I thought that the hell that I had suffered through for over five years was going to be over.
Little did I know, that was only the beginning of a nightmare that would continue to this very day, over two years later.
If you haven’t had a chance, I recommend that you start with this post that I wrote regarding emotionally abusive relationships and how to spot them.
The problem is that recognizing the abuse is not always the end of the journey for most victims, including myself.
Many abusers (especially those who are narcissists) have extreme reactions when the victim finally decides to cut them off, which can lead to behavior such as stalking.
Today I want to discuss how to cut off your abusive partner and how to deal with the fallout.
Please remember, however, that leaving an abusive relationship is the time a woman is most likely to be harmed or murdered by her partner. Please take steps to ensure your safety throughout this entire process.
Why It Can Be Beneficial to Cut Off Ties With An Abuser
In my last post, I talked a lot about how emotional abuse can be extremely hard to recognize. Unlike physical abuse, it rarely leaves marks that we can see.
This means that people can be suffering in an emotionally abusive relationship for years and never realize it. This is why I personally believe that cutting off ties with an abuser is essential.
How can you come to terms with what you experienced while this person continues to be a part of your life? How will you find your truth while they almost certainly do not take responsibility for their actions?
Cutting ties with this toxic energy is key to healing. I believe that keeping an abuser in your life is excusing their behavior and causes you to continue to accept that behavior in the future from others.
At the end of the day, there is no excuse for someone to treat you that way. Cutting off these people is the first step in proving to yourself that you deserve better.
All about trauma bonding
Cutting off an abuser can also be beneficial because of trauma bonding. Many victims of emotional abuse are subjected to trauma bonding, and this is the scientific reason why it is so difficult to leave.
Repeated mental abuse can trick your mind into mistaking this abuse as “love.” Your mind believes that you are the fundamental problem, and if you could just do more, be more, say more, care more, then things would be better.
When things are going well and you are making your abuser happy, you feel great.
However, when you think that you are the fundamental issue, you believe the abuser and allow yourself to be put down. This is such an easy trap to fall into because you’ve already internalized bad feelings about yourself.
Recognizing this mindset is so important to breaking this cycle of abuse.
Going “No Contact” With Your Abuser
There are various steps to going No Contact, which I am going to outline here. The first two steps detail your reasons and goals for going no contact.
Determine why you want to go no contact
No Contact should only be used as a way to free and heal yourself. It should never be used as a means to gain “revenge” on your abuser or to try to maniupulate them into fixing the relationship.
This will NOT work.
Determine your goals and boundaries
These are outlined by Femsplain and are essential to cutting contact with abusive and toxic people. Ask yourself the following questions:
- In what ways can people communicate with me?
- What topics can people communicate with me about?
- There are some topics that may be especially triggering for you, and you are not obligated to talk about them. If your mom loves your ex and refuses to hear the truth about the abuse, set the boundary that you will not discuss the relationship with her.
- How can people communicate with me?
- If screaming, stomping, or silence is triggering for you, communicate that and set those boundaries. Do not feel obligated to engage in conversations where you feel unsafe.
The next steps are about actually going “No Contact” with your abuser
Make a list of reasons why you are choosing to make this decision.
Save old text messages.
Write down the exact feelings you had during particularly bad incidents. Write down the things this person said to you.
Make a list of at least 6 things. This will be important later for moments where you need willpower and are questioning yourself.
Ensure that you have any of your things that you really want back
Especially keys and personal items!
Give an official notice
This can be really difficult, but it is essential.
In whatever way you are comfortable (text, email, phone call, etc.), notify this person that you are cutting them off.
You can provide your reasoning, but don’t expect a positive response. Make sure that in this message, you tell them that you DO NOT want them to contact you.
Cut all ties
Do not give this person any means to get in contact with you. Block all ways of communication.
*This is obviously not possible if you share children and I encourage you to research “Limited Contact”
While some abusers may just move on, it is likely that they will have a visceral reaction to your rejection.
Abuse is about power and control, and cutting ties with an abuser has removed all of their control. This can cause a serious reaction.
Your abuser could have a number of negative reactions, all which you need to prepare yourself for.
I want to remind you that although these reactions are emotional and will cause stress, you are still better off without this person. Do not fall for the chaos.
Stalking and harassment
I was stalked by my ex-boyfriend, and he still continues this on and off even two years later. Here is my advice to you, and things I wish I had done sooner.
DO NOT ENGAGE. EVER. I don’t care what they say, how mad it makes you, anything. Do not respond.
They are continuing to harass you to get a reaction. Do not give it to them.
In Gavin de Becker’s book The Gift of Fear, he writes, “If you tell someone ten times that you don’t want to talk to him, you are talking to them – nine more times than you wanted to. If you call him back after he leaves twenty messages, you simply teach him that the cost of getting a call back is twenty messages.”
Every contact you have with your abuser will earn you another 6 weeks of harassment. Do not engage.
If someone is threatening you or making you scared for your safety, contact the police immediately. Do not wait.
Document every single method of contact.
Keep screenshots of every contact attempt. Write down dates and times of every attempt and anyone who witnessed it.
If the harassment does not stop, know your rights. Look them up.
It took me two years to do this, but I finally did and found that in my state, repeatedly contacting me was considered stalking and I could file a criminal complaint.
I also made sure he knew that I kept records of every single time he had contacted me for the past two years. Even if you think it will never get to that point, save the evidence anyway.
Jekyll and Hyde
Your abuser may try to trick you back into the relationship.
They will turn on the charm, try to remind you of all the wonderful times you had together and how perfect you were for each other. They will give you flowers, promise to change, provide you with endless attention.
Do not fall for this.
If they were going to change, why wouldn’t they have done it already? Things will not be different.
You will find that when you don’t give in to their games, their true personality comes out again. They are cruel, hurtful, and vindictive.
They will call you names, demean you, and try to make you feel as though you are nothing without them.
Related Post: Recognizing an Emotionally Abusive Relationship
My abuser left me a 2 page love note taped to my apartment door telling me how sorry he was and how we were soul mates, etc.
When I didn’t respond by taking him back, he immediately turned on me. He flew into a rage, telling me I was a crazy desperate bitch who would be alone forever because no one else would ever deal with me.
Abusers cannot stand when their manipulation tactics do not work and will fly into a rage. Don’t fall for the sweet and loving act.
If you find your resolve weakening, check your list.
Your abuser may try to use triangulation to lure you back into the relationship.
They may start posting very close photos on social media with the girl they always swore was “just a friend” during your relationship.
Don’t fall for this. That girl is just as much of a toy for him as you are.
If you call him back after he leaves twenty messages, you simply teach him that the cost of getting a call back is twenty messages.”
Gavin de Becker
Your abuser may drag your name through the mud in order to make you look bad.
They may do this publically or privately to friends and family. Although many of the things they may be saying are unlikely to be true, do not feel obligated to engage with them.
Those who know your true character will understand your truth. Those who don’t are not worth your energy.
Your abuser wants you to have a big reaction to their lies. Don’t give them the satisfaction.
You can do this!
This will undoubtedly be hard. Remind yourself that you do not deserve this, and people who truly love you will not make you feel this way.
Surround yourself with people who make you feel fulfilled and happy and worthy.
Remember that you will have days where you struggle. That’s okay! It will be worth it in the long run.
Refer back to your list whenever you are doubting yourself. Seek help from a professional to understand the trauma you have experienced. Contact the National Domestic Help Hotline (1−800−799−7233) for additional resources.