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How to Stop Going Back to an Abusive Relationship

Abusive relationships are more common than you might think. It affects people at a young age and usually affects women more than men. It’s even harder to walk away from an abusive relationship when you don’t recognize it.

According to the statistics:

  • ~38,000,000 women will experience sexual violence from their partner.
  • ~40-45% of women in an abusive relationship are raped or assaulted during their relationship.
  • ~70% of women will suffer physical or sexual abuse over their lifetimes from their partner.

The United Nations and the World Health Organization place violence into two categories:

  • Intimate Partner Violence: Occurs when a partner or ex-partner’s conduct causes physical, sexual, or psychological injury.
  • Sexual Violence: Happens when any sexual act or attempted sexual act is done without consent or is coerced on the partner. This includes rape.

Types of Abusive Relationships

To break it down even further there are five types of abuse:

  • Physical Abuse: Any action that is purposeful and is an unwanted interaction involving you or your body. Even if the action doesn’t leave a mark or cause pain it’s still considered damaging.
  • Emotional Abuse: Anything your partner says that controls you or makes you feel pain is emotional abuse. You can even start to believe the things your abuser says.
  • Sexual Abuse: Any action that forces you to perform a sexual act you don’t want to do is the general definition. This includes conduct that influences how you control your sexual activity and even restricts your access to birth control methods.
  • Financial Abuse: One of the most understated types of abuse is financial. It can be hard to detect. Restricting your buying and savings habits or forcing you to share bank account information is abuse.
  • Digital Abuse: This is an extension of emotional abuse. Your partner uses texting and social media to bully, annoy, follow, or intimidate you.

Signs of an Abusive Relationship

It’s hard to walk away from any of these types of abusive relationships when you don’t know the signs.

There are a few common and crucial signs of an abusive relationship:

  • Possessive and controlling: Your partner constantly checks what you’re doing and who you are with. They will try to regulate where and when you can go.
  • Isolation: Your partner discourages you from spending time with your friends and family. Acts of extreme jealousy might be exhibited when you do spend time away from your partner.
  • Harsh Criticism: Your partner condemns your intelligence, appearance, or abilities in public or private. They will fault you for being “too sensitive” when they negatively compare you to other people.
  • Threats: Your partner compromises your safety or the safety of things you value. They might even make threats towards your family and friends.
  • Violence: When your partner commits either physical or sexual unwanted dominance. Physical includes: shoving or pushing. Sexual covers: coercing you to have sex or perform sexual acts you don’t enjoy.

Walking Away — and Staying Away — from an Abusive Relationship

You never imagined or planned on being in an abusive relationship. Once you’re in it, it can be hard to leave. You become stuck in the cycle of abuse, apologetic, and happy periods. You always hope that this time the cycles will stop.

You have the power to end your abusive relationship and stay away.

  • Get Past Your Denial. Acknowledging that you are experiencing an abusive relationship is the first step. Remind yourself of the quality of life you deserve and figure out how to make it happen.
  • Seek Out Professional Help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline. They can provide information on shelters in your area. These shelters offer one-on-one and group therapy sessions. They can even provide direction for legal assistance if you need it.
  • Break it Off. Don’t be afraid to walk away from an abusive partner. Accentuate the positives. Remind yourself why you’re leaving your partner. Remember what you’re working towards: a brighter and happier future.
  • Create Your Support System. Tell your friends and family your plans and goals for the future. They can provide encouragement and help to reach your goals. They can also offer a safe space when you feel lonely or need someone to talk you.

Now, you can, with the love and support of others, create a better future for yourself.

Remember: First, recognize the problem, second, form a plan to leave your abusive partner, and, third, get the help that you need. 

How to Stop Going Back to an Abusive Relationship


Asma Rehman, LPC

Asma Rehman is a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. If you're struggling in life, the Grief Recovery Center in Houston, Texas, is dedicated to helping you.


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APA Reference
Rehman, A. (2018). How to Stop Going Back to an Abusive Relationship. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 17, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/how-to-stop-going-back-to-an-abusive-relationship/
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.