How do you leave an abusive relationship? I’m worried the person will show up at my home or stalk me on social media. We’ve separated before and they’ve always come back to recollect me on social media and I feel like there’s no way to escape them without not having social media and not being in my own home which just is very unsettling to feel this way? I’ve always felt they were slightly abusive but it’s escalated recently and I want out.
First off, let me give you a big virtual hug and a huge outpouring of support. Leaving an abusive relationship is really hard, but it’s very much worth doing. You’re fighting for yourself, and that takes courage and strength. I’m proud of you.
If at all possible, enlist help. You may want to speak with a lawyer or social worker, call a domestic violence hotline, check in with a local shelter, or call the police non-emergency line in your area. If you have a job with an employee resource program (many employers have one through their insurance), they may also be able to connect you.
Reach out to friends you trust and let them know what’s going on and what kind of help you need. Tell people in your life that you are LEAVING this person and you do NOT want them to be able to get any information about you from anyone, or be able to pass messages through anyone to you. Create a defensive barrier around yourself of people who can clearly and firmly resist this person’s attempts to control you, and who are willing to do what it takes to protect you.
If you’re worried that your abusive ex will show up at your home, stay with a friend or find a hotel. I know it’s frustrating and unsettling to feel like you can’t be safe in your own home, but it’s most important to stay safe. Staying with a friend or asking someone to stay with you can help with that. Be sure to take anything irreplaceable from your home if you’re worried about them breaking in. If you want to stay at your home, you can call the police on them for trespassing if they show up.
If they use social media to stalk you, it’s okay to shut down or block your social media accounts, at least temporarily. I know it can feel really frustrating that something you enjoy and use to connect with your friends has been threatened by this abusive person, but again, safety comes first. You can block them on all platforms, make your accounts private, delete or turn off your accounts, or make separate secret accounts for just a few close friends you trust. If this person harasses you on a social media platform, report them through that platform’s channels. If you’re worried about losing data or connections, find a backup program for that social media platform.
Keep thorough documentation of what this person does and threatens, so if you need to file for a restraining order or call the police, you have a record.
I am not a professional, so please arm yourself with as much help and resources as you can. Leaving an abusive partner can be very dangerous. Here are some resources:
- Harassment & Stalking resources at NOVA
- Stalking resources at RAINN
- Stalking safety plan
- Technology safety planning at NNEDV
- Stalking resources at VOC
- Cyberstalking resources at DVRCV
- Get Help resource center at stoprelationshipabuse
- Staying Safe page at Women’s Law
- Get Help center at loveisrespect
- Get Help center at the Hotline for Domestic Violence
I know that it really sucks to feel like you have to give up things that are important to you - like social media and the safety of your own home. That is really unfair and it’s okay to feel angry and unsettled about that. You can grieve the things that the abuser took away from you. Please consider talking to a therapist for help healing through that. Once you’re through this escape, you can start rebuilding a life with the safety and comfort that you deserve.