Will they hurt me if I leave?

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If your ex has been violent or unpredictable before, are you worried about telling them it’s over? (You should be.)

Breaking up when it's ugly

No one likes a break up: the person doing the dumping or the person being dumped.

If you’re in a relationship with someone who is controlling and maybe violent as well, trying to leave them can be a dangerous time. They usually like to stay in control of you and don’t like someone else (you) calling the shots.

They might try to stop you leaving by:

  • begging you to stay and promising to change
  • threatening to kill or hurt themselves
  • threatening to hurt you or others.

Listen to your feelings – if you feel scared, there’s probably a good reason for those feelings.

What other people have told us

We get many stories from people that say breaking up with an abusive partner was a really scary and dangerous time.

I sent him a letter with the engagement ring in it, saying that I wasn’t ready to settle down at 18 and I believed we weren’t suited. It was easier to send a letter because I was too weak and vulnerable in front of him to break up.

Read Katie’s story

He or she might try to threaten you or manipulate you so that you stay in the relationship. And they could get really angry.

If their anger has made you feel scared before, it’s a sign that you need to take care of your safety when breaking up with them.

Your safety is the most important thing here.

Pre-breakup checklist

You’ve weighed things up in your mind, thinking about how your boyfriend/girlfriend treats you and how they make you feel.

You’ve thought about what breaking up means and how some things will be different after the breakup.

You’ve sketched out a plan to stay safe.

Breaking up so it won’t get ugly

Think about the safest way to break up.

Where will you tell them?

If you’re worried that your boyfriend or girlfriend could yell, scream or get violent, call them on the phone. Tell them to meet in a public place, like a shopping centre or in a cafe. Make sure other people are around - so you can get help if you need it.

What if we live together?

With the help of friends or family if possible, organise for somewhere else to stay. Pack up your things and move out.

How do I say it?

  • Explain why you are breaking up with them
  • Talk about how you feel
  • Tell them what you want
  • Don’t try to explain your reasons for breaking up more than once. There is nothing you can say that will make your ex happy about the break up.

After you’ve done it

  • It’s ok to cry, feel down, get mad, feel relief, or feel embarrassed – they’re all normal feelings.
  • Break-ups can be hard on both people. Just because you’re ending the relationship doesn’t mean you don’t still have feelings for your ex. But you’re not the best person to support them through this – their friends could help them, or they could talk to a counselling service.
  • Talk about your feelings with friends, family or in a diary.
  • Let your friends and parents know you are ending your relationship, especially if you think your ex will come to your house or try to get you alone.
  • If your ex tries to come to your house when you’re alone, don’t go to the door.
  • Trust yourself. If you feel afraid, you probably have a good reason.

Isabella’s story

When I talked about leaving, he got even more aggressive – he’d say ‘If you do, you’ll be sorry’. I was worried about what he would do. I had to tell my family so they could help me to get away from him, I kept telling myself it wasn’t my fault, it was him and I had nothing to be ashamed of. My parents were there when I rang him and told him it was over. He came straight around and bashed on our door and Dad told him to leave or he’d ring the cops.

Mum rang my school and asked the Principal and teachers to keep an eye out for him if he was hanging around outside the school. He started ringing my friends too so I had to tell them what he’d done to me. Most of my friends stood by me, but one friend was sucked in by his sob story and didn’t believe me. You have to stay strong in yourself and keep telling yourself, ‘It’s him, not me. I’ve done nothing wrong, I deserve better’.

Read Isabella’s story

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