Are you scared to leave and afraid to stay?

Sadly we know from experience that a number of you are victims of violent and abusive relationships – it doesn’t matter who you are, where you live or how well off you are. When you are in this sort of relationship you may feel like you are to blame for the problems. We can assure you that you are not.

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple to be objective about what is going on because we know that violence and abuse undermine your confidence. So while you may be concerned about all the other issues and questions we have highlighted above – you have extra issues you need to face that trump all others. Your safety and your ability to get yourself and your children out of the abusive cycle is paramount.

Ideally you would plan your separation. You would carefully remove items that are of importance to you personally but probably of no value, such as photos or knick knacks. You would arrange a place to stay and have some money set aside.

That is ideal, but at the end of the day if you find yourself in a dangerous situation – you should just leave. Everything else can be sorted but you and/or your children getting hurt cannot be sorted.

While you are in the “in between” phase, we suggest you always know where your car keys and handbag/wallet and mobile phone are. You should try and park your car so it can’t be blocked in.

Think also about how you can exit the house – perhaps other than through the front door.

Also tell trusted friends and neighbours that you may need their help. A code word you can text if you need help but can’t call would be a good thing for them to know.

How do you recognise a violent or abusive relationship?

That might seem like a silly question but actually it’s not that simple. Some of you may be looking out for a friend and wondering. Some of you may be unsure yourselves, after years of shouldering

the blame for the issues in your relationship.

Clearly physical violence is the easiest to recognise. However that also includes breaking and throwing things, punching walls, handling the other person with force, spitting, lashing out, preventing someone from leaving a room, forcing someone to have sex when they don’t want it or in a way they don’t want.

Threatening these things also amounts to violence in the eyes of the law.

What is more difficult to see, yet equally as traumatising, is emotional abuse – the “blame game”. The belittling and put downs. The yelling and sleep deprivation because your partner won’t leave you alone.

Then there is the stalking- insisting on knowing where you are. Isolation from family and friends, checking your phone or emails.

And financial control. Making you “beg” for money, withholding funds, controlling all banking transactions and creating financial dependency.

All of these things are violent and abusive.

The part the “blame game” plays

As we said before, one of the component parts is the “blame game”- it goes something like “If you hadn’t done x. I wouldn’t have…”. In the cycle of power and control tension builds. An event happens, the perpetrator is sorry and then blames you – undermining your confidence. What is difficult is that you may feel there is an element of truth in what your partner is complaining about – however the difference between a healthy relationship and an abusive one is the proportionality of the reaction e.g. physical violence is never justified.

If you think about it logically if we, as total strangers, walked up to you in the street and punched you – you would call the police. So why do we take violence and abuse from our partner? The “blame game” plays a big part in undermining the victim.

(Written by Jane Hunter, Family Law Barrister excerpt from our Divorce/Separation, Domestic Violence and the Dollars – download the complete free ebook here.)

How do you escape a toxic relationship in 9 steps?

Our Founder, Bridgette, talks about some fundamental ways of coping with your toxic relationship whilst in self isolation. Listen closely.



Secretly you know your marriage or relationship with your partner is not great. If you have been thinking about leaving your partner or on the fence whether to stay or go we are here for you. We get it. We understand.

Making the decision to leave your relationship is really hard. Making the decision to stay is hard and making it really great is even harder.

We wrote this workbook for you.  Download our free Should I or Shouldn’t I Leave workbook (valued at $150) here.

Further Resources from Equal Exes

Get more help with Toxic Ex

toxic ex iconEqual Exes Online has written 8 Cornerstones which explain situations that develop during separation and divorce. Toxic Ex is one cornerstone.

Go to our Cornerstone page Toxic Ex and take the quiz to work out your situation.

There’s also a Toxic Ex Workbook to help you work out your own needs on the same page.


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