Single Parents

How did you find the courage to leave an emotional abuser?

I'm not a SP, but I've lurked here and have been inspired by the strength and courage I've read here and was hoping I could get some experienced advice.  My mom is currently in a relationship with a controlling, emotional and verbal abuser.  I don't know what I can do to help her.  I know she has to make the decision herself, and she feels embarrassed and stuck but is there anything I can do to nudge her in the right direction?  If you were in an abusive relationship, what finally made you decide to end the cycle?

My sister and I have both moved 1,000 miles away because we refuse to have this toxic man be a part of our lives.   She has been married to this man for 8 years.  They met on the internet, he came over from Norway and they got married after only knowing each other IRL for 2 weeks.   Thanks for any advice anyone can give me. 

Re: How did you find the courage to leave an emotional abuser?

  • How close are you with your mom?  I would say that you need to let her know that you will always be there for her, no matter what.  What this man is likely doing is isolating her, so that she feels she has nowhere to turn.  My XH did this to me ( in relation to anyone who he couldn't manipulate).  He almost succeeded in tearing my BFF and I apart.

    Stay in connection and communication with her.  If you can, invite her out to see you and your sis.  Sometimes it takes getting away, even for a little bit of time for the victims head to become clear.  When she's around him she's constantly in a confused state of manipulation.  When she takes some time away she can get strong. 

    I had to finally realize things on my own.  However, here's an idea of how much control they have: I had found sexual text messages between my husband and another woman when I was eight months pregnant.  I confronted him about them, throwing his clothes at him, punching his arm, and telling him to get the eff out.  He sat down and manipulated me to the point where, by the time he was done, I was begging HIM to stay.  It was sick. 

    My mom and aunt got me to leave for a week, and not tell him where I was going.  It was only then that I was able to get my head clear and realize what I needed to do, which was LEAVE.

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  • I agree with everything achase said.  My STBXH was emotionally, verbally, and sometimes physically abusive and I stayed with him for years after the abuse started.  Abusers are master manipulators and, like achase said, tend to isolate their victims.  I cut so many friends out of my life because STBXH felt that they were threatening to our relationship (that wasn't the reason he used to convince me to cut them out of my life, but looking back I realize that was the root of it).  The catalyst for my decision to leave was seeing STBXH turn his abuse on our 4 month old daughter.  No baby deserved to be treated the way he treated her.  I left the next day and will never go back. 

    Ultimately your mom needs to make the decision for herself, but you have to let her know that you are always there for her, no matter what.  I will say that distance from the person is key.  Once I left I got a protection order and was able to distance myself from him physically and keep contact to a minimum (he's no longer allowed to contact me at all); this allowed me to get my head out of the fog that was allowing me to rationalize all of his abuse.  I wish I had more answers for you.  Good luck!

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  • I have to say that it can be embarrassing to talk about when you're the victim.  A lot of times, you don't want others to know, because you don't want to appear weak or you don't want others to know that you've allowed someone to treat you this way.  A very close friend of mine from college moved to Las Vegas a few years ago and started dating someone there.  We had no idea we were in similar relationships/situations for almost two years until one day, on the phone, I got brave and brought up things that I was noticing about my relationship and she said that she had noticed similar things from her boyfriend.  Once we realized what was going on, we began to talk a lot more often, often when our husbands/boyfriends were not home, and just having her support, even though she was across the country, really helped.  I actually left my husband in March for two months (although somehow he talked me in to giving him another chance, so I'm back and regretting it) and she broke up with her boyfriend a few months ago.  As PPs mentioned, let her know that you're there for her no matter what, and I think it would be a great idea to have her come and visit to get some space.  You might have to bring it up, but it is her decision, and it might take her awhile to gather the courage.  Does she realize this is happening to her?
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  • Also, the more I learned about emotional abuse, either via the internet or books, really helped me to get stronger and realize what was going on.  You might email her some links about emotional abuse if you think she'll be receptive to it.  Harbor House has some great info.
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  • I am just a lurker, I was a SP for 3 years.  My ex was emotionally and physically abusive.  It took my DS being "Shaken" at 3 months for me to leave.  I was stupid and naive and I didn't think anyone could ever hurt a baby.  I left, it was the biggest relief. 

    Can your mom visit you or your sister for some time?  Maybe she can clear her head and see how good her life can be without that toxic relationship.  I still can't believe, even after all that was going on, how much weight was lifted off of me after I left.

    (side note, DS has some learning disabilities, but he is a healthy, happy almost 11 year old)

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