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:

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.

I recently found out that my partners girlfriend is acting abusive towards him. It’s the worst when she drinks and he avoids her in those situations, but he says things like it’s not her fault, and otherwise indicates to me that he thinks he deserves it and it’s not a big deal. He says it comes from lack of communication and they’re working on it. I don’t know how to handle the situation, I used to be sort of friendly w her but now I feel like I couldn’t even be in the same room as her. Helllppp

This is such a hard, hard situation, and you have my empathy. When you think a partner’s partner is behaving unacceptably, you have a very fine line to tread.

On the one hand, you cannot dictate who your partner dates, and you can’t demand that he leave her. That makes you part of the problem, putting demands on your partner and claiming you know better what’s right for him.

On the other hand, you are entitled to a healthy relationship and a healthy environment, and being so closely linked to an abuser is a problem. Also, we cannot stand idly by when our loved ones are in dangerous situations.

It is very difficult to convince someone to leave an abuser. Abusers are master manipulators, and I don’t doubt that he believes he deserves it, or that it’s no big deal, or that he’s obligated to work things out with her. You can gently explain that he deserves to be treated better, you can point out the toxicity of her behavior, but you can’t change his mind for him.

I’ll admit, I’ve been on all sides of this situation: I’ve been with a manipulative, emotionally abusive man, and when all my friends and other partners told me he was bad news, I deflected and defended him. I had to leave that relationship in my own time. And I’ve seen people I love date dangerous people, and despite knowing from my own experience that it doesn’t work, tried until I was blue in the face to argue them into seeing how unacceptable the behavior was and leaving.

The best thing you can do for someone in an abusive situation is to be there for them, to listen, to support - don’t push, or set ultimatums, or lay blame. Such patience is excruciating, and incredibly difficult. (I’ll admit I don’t often do a good job of this when talking to my friends who I feel are in bad situations). But if you can, walk that fine line and do your best to help him hold onto his sense of self while his mind is in the grip of this dangerous person. Remind him that he deserves to be treated well, and that no matter what she says, her actions and feelings are not his fault or responsibility.

But you’re not obligated to stay in a relationship that puts you within emotional shrapnel distance of an abuser. If things get too heavy for you, or you’re worried she’ll do you mental or physical harm, you have a right to back out. You’re not forcing him to choose between her and you; you’re removing yourself from a situation that’s unhealthy for you. Good luck.

So my girlfriend (K)’s other lover (D) is constantly trying to get her to break up with me, and being emotionally manipulative on the verge of abusive to her. D’s not ok with being poly, but she knew that me and k were together before she got involved. K has already said she doesn’t want a relationship with D because she’s not good for her mental health. It seems so simple to me that she should break contact because their relationship is harmful. But they’re in love so… It’s difficult. Any advice?

You have your picture of what’s going on: D is being abusive, manipulative, and unhealthy for K. But it’s not clear that K shares this perspective. You say that K agrees with you and doesn’t want a relationship with D, but for her own reasons, K has yet to break up with D. That tells me that there’s something else going on. K may be telling you what she thinks you want to hear rather than what she really thinks, or her definition of “in love” may not jive with yours - it’s worth sussing those out through open communication.

This is a really tricky situation, but the thing to remember is that you can’t control another person’s choices, nor can you change their worldview. If your girlfriend has her reasons for staying with her other parter, those reasons are real to her, even if they aren’t apparent or rational from your perspective. If you start pressuring K to leave her other partner before she’s ready, you risk becoming part of the problem. Be an active listener and do your best to find out what K is feeling and needing in this situation. It can be hard, but try to speak into her reality with support and validation rather than trying to drag her into yours.

If it turns out that K really doesn’t want to leave D right now because her definition of “in love” allows for what’s going on between her and D, and that trumps her desire to be free of this toxic relationship, you can’t change that. You can only decide how close to this situation you are willing to be, for your own personal health. If it turns out that K does want to leave D but feels she can’t because of fear, concern, insecurity, or other issues, find out what she needs from you to support her through this, and do your best to make the exit safe and healthy for her. Remember that you have an outsider’s perspective, and what seems obvious to you may be hard for K to see if she has been manipulated.