Here's an escape plan if you feel trapped in an abusive relationship and need to exit for good

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Illustration photo by Getty Images
Illustration photo by Getty Images
  • When you want to leave an abusive relationship, you need a solid exit plan so that you don't go back.
  • Staying or ignoring the truth about the abuse will only make you more miserable and unhappy with your life.
  • It is dangerous to stay in a relationship that is toxic and abusive. It is not advisable to stay.

Many women find themselves trapped in abusive relationships, but they don't know how to leave for good. 

Others are terrified of what their lives will look like without their abuser, especially when they still love them. For some, the dependency and manipulation get them to stay no matter how bad it is.

An influx of questions from Quora users on this topic is telling. One asks: "I'm in an emotionally abusive relationship. Yet, I can't leave him as I feel like I'll never be good enough for anyone, and I'm scared of being without him. How do I get out of this relationship?"

Another says: "Why do I have this emotional connection to my abusive boyfriend? He has nearly killed me, and I still can't bring myself to leave him. What's wrong with me?" 

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These women are among thousands who feel the same. However, life coach Thembi Hama says, it is not advisable to stay in such a situation.

"I would not advise anyone to attempt to endure abuse. It only gets worse each time. It is both destroying and life-threatening," she says. 

"The only thing harder than staying is leaving. It is difficult to leave. Often it requires strong financial backing and emotional support from loved ones, which are not always guaranteed."

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Thembi gives these tips for women who feel trapped in a destructive partnership situation:

  • Gradually make an exit plan. Make a firm commitment to yourself, put a date on it, and share this with another person [a trusted and close person to you] who will regularly call upon you and monitor your progress. 
  • Save whatever little money you can. If you're not working, get a job to support yourself or ask for financial help from trusted and understanding family members. 
  • Invest in short courses to improve yourself or consider possible entrepreneurial opportunities.
  •  Get your own personal and independent bank account that you have access to and full control of.
  • Do not provoke them or aggravate the situation while under the same roof as them and make sure you stay committed to your exit plan. 
  • Meanwhile, ensure you have the means to make calls 24/7 (a fully charged phone and some airtime).
  • Keep some helpful emergency numbers handy. Also, be aware of safe places or shelters in your area you can go to when things escalate.
  • Do not let your partner know your plans and leave as soon as you can, even if it's earlier than your initially planned date.

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This plan is important because it gives the abused some independence and hope that eventually they will be free and safe.

"Sometimes victims have no financial, mental, emotional, or physical leg to stand on and rely on their abuser for livelihood and leaving might mean no food, no shelter, or a reduced quality of life for their children," Thembi says. 

If you or anyone you know needs support in dealing with a difficult domestic situation contact the helplines below:

Gender-based violence Command Centre: “Please call me” facility: *120*7867# Emergency line: 0800 428 428 

POWA helpline: 011 642 4345 

SADAG has a WhatsApp counselling line that operates from 9am to 4pm: 076 882 2775 

To speak to a SADAG counsellor: 0800 567 567

Tears Foundation helpline: *134*7355# 

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