Ending an Abusive Relationship:
“I feel guilty leaving my abusive partner, because I have compassion for him.”

"Roar" by Mimi Stuart © Live the Life you Desire

“Roar” by Mimi Stuart ©
Live the Life you Desire

Life would be so simple if a person were either all good or all bad. However, most people, even abusive people, have some good qualities or they would not have drawn others into their orbit to begin with.

Abuse in a relationship usually arises over time and stems from the abuser’s insecurity and fear. So it can be easy for a compassionate person to feel empathy even for a partner, even if they have been abusive.

How far should compassion go?

Compassion means trying to understand another person’s frame of mind. However, it does not mean putting up with and living with someone who is abusive. We can be compassionate without compromising our own boundaries and self-respect.

Compassion never means accepting or living with abuse. You can have compassion for someone’s flaws without accepting a relationship overwhelmed by abuse, contempt, or fear. You can have compassion for someone’s weaknesses without giving up what is yours morally and legally.

Abusive vs. healthy relationships

In abusive relationships, people live in a defensive, fearful state of mind. Rather than being open and candid, they have to tip-toe around and avoid speaking their mind to avoid conflict, hostility, and abuse. Living in a constant state of vigilance and dread leads to a deep sense of insecurity.

In healthy relationships partners try to overcome that insecurity in order to promote what is best for the other person because it is in both partners’ best interest to be supportive and encouraging. They attempt to override their fear with love and compassion for the other person.

Relationships are meant to be mutually supportive and life-enhancing. When two people live together, each should want the other to thrive and be happy.

Listen to your inner voice

The most important voice you need to listen to and address is your inner voice—or intuition—that protects you. Despite negative feelings about leaving the situation, such as guilt, fear, or feeling like a failure, you must remind yourself that leaving an abusive person is an act of self-protection and self-respect. No one in their right mind who knows the circumstances of the abuse you confront and cares about you would blame you for leaving. So do not stay in a relationship for appearances’ sake.

You are entitled to independence, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness without the limitations imposed on you by an abusive partner. You don’t need to vilify your partner. You can continue to appreciate the positive experiences you enjoyed together. Yet you must honor yourself by setting boundaries and insisting that your former partner does so as well.

Treat your former partner with respect. But remember it takes both of you to continue to be respectful after the relationship ends. If your ex does not keep their end of the bargain, then it is time to let go of any hope that you can maintain a friendship, and you might have to avoid him or her altogether.

by Dr. Alison Poulsen

Read “Breaking up: ‘I feel miserable and stifled as though I don’t exist in this partnership. I have to move out, but don’t want to hurt him.’”

Read “Compassionate Confrontation: ‘He said he’d spend more time with me, but has not followed through.’”

Read “Abusive emails from an ex: ‘I keep defending myself against never-ending false, accusatory emails from my ex-husband, because I want to stay on good terms.'”

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23 thoughts on “Ending an Abusive Relationship:
“I feel guilty leaving my abusive partner, because I have compassion for him.”

  1. Ms sad heart

    I’m actually living in a women shelter after living with my partner for 7 years. It’s hard it’s tough as I have 2 kids(3yrs and 4 months old).
    Me too I was over the moon when I first met him, thought he was my soulmate. He was already a married man who separated from his wife a year before we met each other and he had 2 girls then (2 yrs old and 10 yrs old) but he was still living in the same house as they had mortgage together. Only after confirming with his ex wife that they are really over that I continued my relationship.
    Time pass by and we decided to move together after 1 year. In the beginning I stayed at his place for 17 months as I lost my job( coz of him, after an arguments he came and kicks the house door and broke it as I was doing a living job) so as I had no jobs he said stay at his place for a week until he got a room for me, but staying there made me stayed for 17 months coz he never look for a room instead having me minding his 2 girls as the woman works 3 times a week and he had a babysitter. So he had me minding the kids and doing the house work and cooking for everyone even the ex wife.
    I didn’t mind coz I was not working. But the ex wife and him was in good term always talking to each other in a friendly way. But then slowly I realise that they still having sex as well, as one day I had a fight with him and he did it as when I opened the door I catch both and he insult me to close the door and F.. Off. I was broken down and left at 2 am and wandering on the road, but I had to come back coz I had no place to go or any money as im in a foreign country.
    I cried so much and the next day he cried and apologised saying he was angry that’s why he did that and coz I loves him so much I forgave him
    Then I got a job and decided to move out of the house, so we rent an apartment and went.
    But he always had an excuse coz of his kids he talked and go to his house I didn’t mind but then whenever we have a fight he will go their and come back the next day.
    We had loads of fights and arguments and he was hurting me physically as well. But I still stayed and one day I got pregnant he didn’t like and made me had an abortion which then the next day he hit me saying I killed his child. I was so guilty but surprised as well.
    After 7 months I got pregnant again( due to working away from home 3 days and nights I was u able to keep a track on my pill which I told him maybe he should take the precaution but he blame me for everything) he was so angry and have me a hard time for the whole 9 months, and he even brought his 2 kids to live with us just 5 weeks before my due date. it broke me down thinking I have to mind his 2 kids as well as mine but I survived.
    Thinking things will be ok after baby will born but I was wrong things got worst when my son was born and it’s his only son as he have girls, he was not supportive at all for the first 7 months instead swearing at me, insult me, abuse me, hit me, broke my nose and still I stayed as he always apologised.
    Then after a year he said lets have another one but I was not ready coz I was too tired with the baby and him as he is very demanding too but coz he wanted i said ok
    But I was not getting pregnant I don’t know why and he was so angry saying that im playing a game with him it’s impossible that im not getting pregnant and hit me and even hit me with my phone and split my forehead( little bit) but was pouring blood as I have my son in my arm as well which the phone could hit him instead of me. But then finally after 2 years I got pregnant and now have a lovely baby girl.
    But he’s nasty way insulting way abusive way never stop. He hit me twice in my both pregnancy and now he kept on saying that as I won’t be able to work he won’t be able to cope with financial pressure. I have mind his 2 kids since the day I met him and permanently for 3 years( 7 years altogether ) now when his kids are 18 and 10 he send them to their mother ( when the hard part is done, she took them as before she said she didn’t want then coz she couldn’t cope) and everytime he will tell me I have ruined his life . What did I ever did for him, when I said I have looked after you worked and look after your kids ( I went back to work weekend when my son was 6 months old, the elder daughter was minding him) coz he was very stressed can’t cope financially hit me a lot insult me and abuse me so I went to work but now as the girl is 18 she left to her mother house when I was in my 7 months of 2nd pregnancy, So there won’t be anybody to mind my son and daughter so I can’t go back to work and he already saying he can’t cope and keep telling me to take my 2 children and go to my country or go homeless. I couldn’t believe my ears but coz every day of his nasty talk I finally left and today im with my 2 children in woman refuge. We still talk to each other but now he have another story. Saying that he was only joking he didn’t ment to tell me to leave and whenever he wants to insult me he will say I left him for pure greed and selfishness coz I’m claiming line parent and put my name down to be able to get a house on the council. But I still feel guilty coz he was depending on me for everything( food clothes morning coffee everything) and now as I’m not with him he’s not eating or having clean iron clothes) I cried I get breakdown but I still love him.
    I want to go back but sometimes he say he wants me back and sometimes he say I better off where I am. And even sad since I left him he manage to have some savings
    What should I do??? I’m finding it too hard with 2 children as my 3 years old love his dad a lot and always ask for him. Because of his abusive talk sometimes I want to end the relationship altogether and not to have contact but I cant.

    1. Alison Post author

      Sorry it took so long to respond. You ask my opinion, and clearly you know that if you go back he will be mean and physically abusive. There is absolutely no reason to feel guilty. No, you should not endanger yourself and your children by going back to him. You may feel sad and frightened right now, but that will pass as you get used to people not being abusive toward you. You really should never have moved in with him, or stayed after he kicked the house door and broke it, and certainly not after finding him sleeping with his ex, and never when he first laid hands on you. That aside, you should find a way to stay at the shelter and avoid contacting him. Don’t worry about the children missing him. Anyone who has done one tenth of the things you say he’s done in this email is not a good father figure. There is no place for guilt, other than having stayed with him for this long to the point where you wonder whether you should contact him. Work on improving your own life and hang in there. Things will get better if you learn to set boundaries when you see the first red flag. All the best to you.

  2. Anonymous

    I have been reading your comments and trying to understand my own situation.
    I have been in a relationship with my partner for 10 years. We have had great moments. He has wonderful qualities – Cooking and technical skills at home etc…
    However, when we first started dating, one night a text entered my phone and he pulled my hair.
    I took this as a sign of love and forgave him immediately. We have a beautiful relationship but he always showed he was extremely jealous and possessive.

    I was not allowed to go anywhere without him around and if I did, he would come at unexpected times or kept calling me making me feel uncomfortable throughout.
    We started when I was 16. Today I am 26 and I feel so confused and guilty because I feel ready to leave him. We are used to each other family etc..
    One time, I attended a cocktail at work. He waited for me and strangled me. I had moved in at his parent’s house. I forgave him and tried to assist him find help.
    He did go to a few counseling sessions and apparently it helped him a bit.
    One time, he came over to my grandmother’s house and strangled me when we talking outside at the back of the house. He got so mad once that he took a glass bottle of beer and broke it on his own head.
    Whenever, it died down and we made up, I would always feel like he protected me and felt he was so strong.
    For years, or long times, the physical abuse would not happen but whenever it did, it always made me think of the last one no matter how old it was.
    We broke up 3 times were I left his house because we were having issues with him coming home late and not respecting me. He would leave and come home at 4 am.
    At one time, I regretted leaving the next day and came back straight away. He told me he was not made of wood and took the time to leave me. I was devastated. Fell sick, could not work nor concentrate.
    During that time, I tried to get back to him. He pulled my hair once in the car for bringing up an old story.
    I was still begging him to come back. 3 months later he decided to come back and asked for forgiveness. I said no just to try and feel that I was valued. He said he could not take it and that he would crash the car with us both. I begged him not too. He said he could not leave without me and the time apart had proven to show him how he loved me.
    Eventually, we got back together and things went back to normal. Life was great for a while and we did everything together as always.
    There were also times when he had been unfaithful to me as well. Once, he even texted my own cousin and asked her if he could drop her off where she wanted and that I would not know about it.
    I forgave him after a while and life went on.
    I left him to go to pursue my studies abroad for a year. It saddened me while I was away and missed him so much but I was OK. Part of me was relieved because I had no pressure and could do anything I wanted.
    I came down for Xmas and felt he was not that happy to see me.
    When I got back, I went to his place and we lived together like normal. Once we argued, he pushed me and I hit my head again the window and the glass broke.
    He said he didn’t do it on purpose that he gently pushed me and that I banged my head.
    Another time, we were on a break because we were having issues, he pushed me and I hit my head against a wall. It was so hard that I vomited.
    Overtime, I started having interest in other men and started to wander how it felt to have someone hold you and caress you and not hit you. We started renting a house just the two of us and is now 7 months
    Sometimes, I felt bad for having such feelings but the got stronger. On the 5th February, I was txting one of my friends to explain that I wanted to leave my boyfriend on an evening to meet with a guy I started talking to. He uncovered my messages because I had forgotten to delete it. He uncovered the txts on my phone and asked me questions. I refused to answer because I didn’t go through his phone. He had a code. He had uncovered my code.
    This time it was not the hitting or the snapping and getting angry or throwing things, he started slapping me across the face and kicking me in the back while I fell on the sofa. He kicked me so hard and even got a knife from the kitchen and scratched me on my back.
    I was terrified and left the house. It has been 2 weeks now since I have left the house, everything along with my 3 dogs which I have had for 5 years.

    He went to his mother’s house as well and has been calling every day to apologize. He claims to be dying. He cannot eat and is growing thin. He cannot work and cannot concentrate. Before, no one knew about it, but now everyone knows and half of my family want him gone.
    He said he would commit suicide and my mother even spoke to him saying she would help him get help. He apologized to my mother and even called my father to apologize. All this looks so genuine.
    I feel so bad that I keep replying to his calls and messages encouraging him to get help. I gave him the number of a psychologist to call and seek help.
    He is so desperate and I feel so bad. I have asked him for time but he told me he does not believe giving time will work because we will be apart.
    Monday 13th, I went to a friend to talk, my male friend. But the time, I got in the car he started calling me. I didn’t pick up. Then I had to ask my friend to take me back because he started sending messages and insulting me. I got so scared. I ran into the house and left my friend.
    He called a few minutes later to apologize saying he felt jealous and that after what happened I should have answered the phone etc…

    I got so mad and asked him to leave me alone. He came crying and desperate. I hate myself for making him feel this way but I also feel that I gave him 10 years of my life and that I finally have the right to try and be happy.
    Whenever he calls me, sometimes I feel weak and scared. But I do not feel the love I felt. I feel more pity. I just want to help him get better.
    When he does not call, I wonder about him though. One minute I feel strong and feel like I am ready to leave him, but when he comes crying, I feel so bad and believe giving him a chance might help him.
    He called the psychologist to look for help.
    I am thinking about so many things – what if he gets help and it works – Do I lose 10 years?
    What if he does not change? Do I risk it?
    If I know he is Ok, then I am Ok and can cope on my own.
    He claims that we have moved in and we have our own house. He cannot adapt back again at his mum’s house and that he will have to go back to 0.
    What do I do? Please help me.
    I just want it all to be over.

    1. Alison Post author

      Thanks for your comment. You ask for my advice, and here it is. Go to a shelter for abused women/people, and get counseling and shelter if you need it. Send him one last text, and tell him that if he cares about your wellbeing he will understand that you must cut him off entirely. His behavior despite his promises is far too dangerous. You sincerely wish him well, but will not be responding to him anymore. (Don’t send that text until you are safe and protected.)

      I am sure he has some good qualities and that he is serious when he says he will never hurt you again. Sadly, he cannot keep those promises because his problems are deeper than pure willpower.

      My unequivocal advice to you is to go somewhere safe and anonymous, like a shelter, and cut him off. IF you have to avoid telling friends or family where you are in order to prevent him from finding out, do so. Get counseling, take classes, learn more about equal loving relationships. In the future, if anyone ever pulls your hair or pushes you once, stop seeing that person. After six months or a year, your self-esteem will improve and you will begin to feel stronger and more self-empowered, and you will no longer crave a connection with him.

      Don’t think of it as a waste of ten years. Everyone lives and learns. It will become a waste of time and life and possibilities if you continue to endanger yourself and have hope in a relationship that can only lead to misery, destruction and worse.

      Good luck. Let me know how it goes.


  3. My Truth

    I married my husband because I loved him and was in love with him. Prior to our marriage he showed signs of violence but I thought it would go away once we were married. He never hit me it was only verbal and he shoved me in the bed once. We married in February of this year and the verbal abuse got worse and then it became physical. I stayed because I loved him and he always promised he would not do it again and the God would help us. I believed him. I stayed. My husband is a cop so that was another factor. He would tell me people would not believe me and he could lose his career if I told. After months of things happening I finally reported him. My daughter witnessed him choking me and that was the deal breaker. I tossed with the thoughts of reporting him for days and finally after speaking with his ex wife and her telling me he abused her I knew I was making the right decision. An investigation was opened and he has been charged with a felony and misdamenor. It hurts really bad to see the man I love go through the embarrassment and our marriage come to an end. I am struggling with did I do the right thing. My life matters and what if he did it again and I didn’t survive. Is it crazy to still love him and care about his well being. Yes, he has to be held accountable for what he did but I just have a lot of emotions right now.

    1. Alison Post author

      I’m so sorry for the pain and suffering you are going through and that he is going through as well. Yes, you did the right thing for many reasons, and you list some of them–to avoid future harm and perhaps worse–death. Think about that for a moment. To show your daughter that you must stand up for what’s right, that is, the law and the protection of yourself and others. Imagine a daughter who does not learn to stand up for herself. A child who gets used to abuse in the household has a much harder time developing self-respect and setting boundaries against disrespect, or they become abusive themselves. There are laws for a reason you know, and as a policeman he should understand that. You also did the right thing to protect others in the future from being harmed by him. If you had known that he had physically abused his first wife, it is likely that you would have avoided getting in a relationship with him.

      Also, he will have to face his problem now that it is out in the open instead of a family secret. He can get help, although a person has to be very motivated in order to change a violent streak, as those violent tendencies are often ingrained in the brain. But they can get help.

      It is not odd that you still love him and care for his wellbeing. Not at all. People are complex. I’m sure he has many good traits and that you have many good memories. Unfortunately, you cannot stay in an intimate relationship with someone who is abusive and has hit you or choked you, not to speak of the verbal abuse. You can be compassionate and kind to him, while setting necessary boundaries and doing the right thing to protect your family and others.

      Regarding his trying to talk you out of going to the police because it will wreck his career. It is HIS act of violence that is destroying his career and his family. It is not your act of going to the police. You are protecting yourself, your daughter, other potential women or people, and perhaps himself. He put you in this uncomfortable and dangerous situation. Do not forget that.

      All the best to you. Take care of yourself and your child.


  4. lucy gear

    Im looking for advice on ways to overcome guilt and what ifs. I was in a physically and emotionally abusive relationship for five years. I had two children going into this relationship and one with this man. I stuck loyally by his side through his drug addiction ins and outs of jail and severe abuse. It got so bad child services got invloved but was quickly able to close the case because i filed a restraining order on him which i let go after 30 days. We were always breaking up and getti g back together i loved him more than myself. My oldest child hates him and we always walked on egg shells. Eventually he violated his probation and got a three year sentence. I saw this as my opportunity to leave him safely
    I did stick by him for a few months but ended up meeting someone else and quickliy getting into a relationship that i am now pregnant from. Although the abuse was horrible i feel guilty for not waiting as stupid as it sounds i wonder if maybe he has changed as his release date approaches i dwell on these thoughts. This new man is wonderful and understanding but I cant find it in me to be happy and ok with him and the pregnancy. I feel as though ive been disloyal and shouldn’t have given him another chance
    It kills me to think that he probably hates me now that im pregnant with someone elses child. Any advice to help me move foward would be appreciated. Thank you in advance.

    1. Alison Post author

      It is extremely unlikely that an very abusive person would ever change even if he were highly motivated. Your guilt is misplaced. Change your guilt to compassion. It is sad that he has such a self-destructive personality, and he will probably be angry and sad that you are with a new man. But you should not stay with an abusive man, especially when you have children. It is also not good for your family to be living with someone that you have to walk on eggshells around, not to speak of living with someone who is addicted to drugs and going to jail, and violating probation. But one event of physical abuse is sufficient to move on to protect yourself and your children, not only from the abuse but from seeing their mother as weak and without boundaries. To make their way in the world successfully they need to see a parent who can stand up for them and him- or herself, to role model setting appropriate boundaries. If you don’t do it, they can more easily become either abusers or the victim of abuse themselves.

      You probably should let him know while he’s in prison in a letter that you have moved on, so that he will not be too surprised and hostile when he gets out. Do not apologize for it. Just tell him you will not live in an abusive environment anymore. period.

      I notice that you said that you loved him more than you loved yourself. I would be careful when you have such feelings. You know the old adage about getting up your own oxygen when a plane is depressurized before giving your children oxygen. Well, this holds true in a relationship too. You have to value yourself in order to have a good relationship. You can’t let someone treat you with disrespect.

      You say that it kills you to think he will hate you. Did it kill him to be abusive? You cannot worry about his feelings when you are putting your whole family at risk for emotional and physical abuse. You can treat him with dignity–that is, you don’t have to be nasty. But standing up for your own safety and wellbeing is far more important than appeasing an abusive person by subjecting your family to fear.

      Please drop your guilt, stay strong for yourself and your children, but protect yourself. You can tell your ex that you wish him the best, but won’t risk any more abuse. Period.

      Enjoy being treated well.

      Good luck.


      Good luck.

  5. Kimberly

    I truly understand these ladies though he has never been physically abuse he says the most hurtful things See he did 8 years in prison and I stuck by him completely but yet he constantly says things wont be right unless I take a Lie Detector test first of all he doesnt work and has been home for a year His lufe is anout gambling hanging with his friends and clubbing though I work we dont have any money left after bills to pay for a test and after all he put me through before he went to prison and I still stayed with him why should I have to take a test to prove myself We have no children together but I have a teen age son that use to love him but now doesnt like being around because of the constant fussing and hearing him put me down. I truly do love him and now that ive got the strength to walk away its like he suddenly acts as though he cares but im so scared if I stay that he will go right back to calling me names saying hiw hes not in love accusing me of cheating and saying I need to take a Lie dector test. Im so confused I just want a piece of mind for my son and I. What do I do? Do you think if I just take the test to prove im telling the truth would be the best thing? Help Lost & Confused

    1. Alison Post author

      Sorry to say, but if you do stay, he will go back to his old ways, guaranteed. People don’t change from taking advantage of you financially and being emotionally abusive and accusatory to being kind and loving. After you are away for a six months or a year and only spend time with people who are more positive and don’t take advantage of you, you will feel better about yourself and less needy. Don’t let fear stop you from seeking a better life for you and your son. Somebody who spends time gambling and hanging out with friends puts you at much too low of a priority. Good luck. Be strong and you will have a better life.

  6. Reicina Russell

    My situation feels very similar! Began in 2009 and i had one son that wasnt his and all his abuse and shenanigans only to now be 2016 with 2 more sons, by him, several breakups, moving away, coming back, marriage, divorce and more breakups, heartache and pain to only come right on back to the basics. I am a MSW srltident and help alot of people take the steps to make changes daily. But for me, i feel always manipulated back and in the same triangle. And when i tell him to leave my house cause i have always paid all the bills and provided 98.6% of all care for children etc., he won’t or he will try to get louder and aggressive knowing i am afraif to call the police for frar of dcs coming to take my kids. I am numb and want to be free.

    1. Alison Post author

      I’m so sorry. I think it’s time to legal action and to get family, friends and community involved to help you stick by your decision to stay clear of him. There should be some sort of shelter for abused women that can help with counseling and the legal issues. Best of luck.

  7. Anonymous

    I just left my husband yesterday and he came to look for me at my parents house, and keeped on insisting. I feel guilty because I left him but I just couldnt stand the disrespect and emotional abuse anymore. I keeped on saying “no I am not going back” I have left him like 3 times before and when I go back he only last 1’week doing good. then goes back to his old seld. I just really need advice if I am doing well for me and my 2 children. I feel bad for leaving him but. he didnt want to work, spent on my money on drugs, and I was always stressed to pay bills. I couldnt take it no more. and I told him that today, but he just keeped on saying “im sorry, I didnt know what I was doing, but I promise I am going to change” his mom also told me that I was going to regret leaving him because he was a good hisband. but she never knew of the stress I had. im sorry for my long comment but I just reallt need advice, I feel really lost. my mom is helping me but I dont know. I want to know if I did good, because I feel bad. he dosent have money, and stayed alone with his mom in the apartments, they dont have a car either, and I took the car because my parents gave it to me for my 16th birthday. and I am a very humble and loving person, I have a very soft heart, and I feel like I let things like that get to me, if you see this comment plz respond to me, I need advice

    1. Alison Post author

      Hi, I’m sorry you’ve been going through this. You should not feel guilty. You may feel sad for the loss of the marriage and for his temporary sadness, and for the difficulties you are facing because of his disrespectful behavior and his irresponsibility. It’s your car; there should be no guilt in keeping your car. He has wasted your money. He has been disrespectful toward you. That will only get worse!! All the research shows that it will not get better if you stay.

      I am afraid to say that he will not change. It is possible that in a few years, if he works hard, quits doing drugs, saves his money and treats you and the children with respect, he will have changed. But it is extremely unlikely. If you are somehow tempted to go back, you can tell him (and yourself,) that you will consider whether to date him again after 12 months. If he has a job, is off drugs completely, has saved some money, then you would consider seeing him, but not moving in. Then perhaps after dating for 12 months and if he is completely respectful with you and the children during another 12 months period, then you would consider moving in. If he gets angry at this proposal then he is absolutely not worth it. If he cannot become responsible and polite and wait for you, then you do not want to be with him and risk your self-respect, your safety, your happiness, your youth and your money. Letting someone treat you badly and use your money will only make you feel worse about yourself, give up your financial security, and your potential for happiness. Do not give in, or you’ll be giving up your life and your children’s happiness and sense of security as well. It is very bad for your kids to see you putting up with being treated poorly. So good for you for leaving.

      If he asks why, just respond that you want to be in a relationship where you feel valued and respected, and where there are no drugs, and where the other person is kind and there is mutual financial contribution.

      Good luck. Let me know if you need anymore advice.

      1. Yesenia

        Thank you so much for your reply.. That really cleared up my mind… It is now October & i am doing much better than when i left him back in June.. You are the best! I dont know how to thank you for the advice but it has helped me bring bacl my happiness nd confidence.. My ex still beggs me to go back but I know he is doing no good. So im trying to stay away from him & i fear he will never change.. And that does make me sad for my kids because they will grow up and know their dad is in bad steps. I still pray to God’ to help him change but at the end it is up to him if he does want to put in the effort to be a good father and man for his kids…
        But anyways thanks for the response’ it cleared things up when i was desperate for help & advice…. Much Love from Y💗

        1. Alison Post author

          Thank you so much for taking the time to let me know how you’re doing and for showing your appreciation! I’m so glad to hear that you feel happier and more confident! That is fantastic. While it is sad for your kids to have a father like that, it will help them very much to see you draw boundaries and re-build your life despite the difficulties you have faced. Don’t underestimate how important it is for them to have such a role model.

          Take care and keep courage on your journey!


    2. Alison Post author

      PS With someone who is potentially abusive, try not to call him names or criticize him. Make it about you. For example, “I feel bad around someone who is nice sometimes and then suddenly disrespectful. Life is short and I need financial security, and want to be around supportive, loving people, or alone. But I wish you all the best.”

  8. J

    I came across this post after googling “feeling guilty for leaving my abusive partner”. I haven’t left yet, but I’m planning, and I feel an enourmous amount of guilt. 1. Because I love him. 2. I’m the one choosing to “break up” our family.

    I know he is choosing by hurting me, but I still feel guilty. It’s been a long, hard road to come to this decision, because I’ve always swept the abuse under the rug. Our relationships goes in cycles. He hurts me maybe 1-2x a year. The emotional abuse is getting worse though. I guess, I run the chance of regret later on by leaving, but I think I would regret it more if the abuse was ever put on my children. I would rather regret losing my partner than my children hurting.

    Anyways, I really just wanted to say that I can sew why someone would want to have a relationship after leaving an abusive partner. My hope is to eventually be able to co-parent our little ones, civilly. I don’t know if this will be possible, but time will tell.

    1. Alison Post author

      I’m so sorry about the challenges and loss you are facing. I would re-frame your feelings of guilt to feelings of loss and sadness. You might more appropriately experience guilt if you stay with someone who is abusive to you and potentially to your children. If you leave, you would feel sadness for your husband and for your own loss accompanied with the knowledge that you did the right thing–no feelings of guilt.

      What’s most important is that you want to role model the self-respect and strength it takes to protect yourself and your children from harm, even at the cost of losing the comfort and security you have most of the time with the partner you still love.

      You can certainly love him and have compassion for him, but you must protect your children first and foremost from being raised in a family where they witness emotional abuse, not to even speak of physical abuse. Unfortunately, either pattern of abuse almost always gets worse. I believe that one experience of physical abuse is one too many. Know that most men would never hit or shove a woman.

      What I would recommend to you though is that you talk to someone at a shelter for abused women about how best to leave an abusive person to make sure you protect yourself physically, legally, and financially. If you can talk to an attorney as well, that would be great. Someone who is emotionally or physically abusive, can become very punitive and even dangerous when they feel abandoned. Do not let your inappropriate feelings of guilt allow you to be taken advantage monetarily or to put yourself and your children in danger.

      I too hope that you can co-parent your little ones civilly. However, that is up to him, not you. You are clearly already too accommodating toward him. Don’t let him have power over you through manipulating the situation with the children. The less power he has over you, the more likely he is to do the right thing. If he senses that he can manipulate you or punish you by using his relationship with the kids against you, he may just do that. In other words, don’t plead and seem emotionally weak. Be factual and neutral.

      The sooner you leave the abusive situation, the better for all involved, especially you and your children, but even him. Once abusive behavior becomes a habit, it becomes very difficult to stop, because the neurological networks have become ingrained.

      I have known quite a few women who have left abusive relationships. Although it is terribly painful at first, in part because of the breakup and in part because they have low self-esteem caused by the relationship dynamic, so many women go on to develop full lives, strength, self-respect, and mutually respectful loving relationships. The sooner they leave the abusive relationship the easier it is, however. Once they have regained their lives, and strengthened relationships with friends, family and the community, they no longer to long for the previous harmful and demeaning relationship. It could be the best thing for him as well. Allowing his abusive behavior to continue without real consequences is a way to encourage them.

      Good luck and let me know how it goes.


  9. Louise

    Why would anyone ever want to continue being friends with a person who abused them? There are many domestic violence sites, law enforcement officials and psychologists who advise you to go nowhere near an abusive partner after you get free, particularly because that is a dangerous time for the victim, where abuse might escalate.

    1. Alison Post author

      I agree that no one should remain with an abusive person or want to remain friends with someone who has been abusive toward him or her. But people do so because they have gradually become isolated and dependent, they have lost their self-esteem, and they live in fear of making the other person angry. Once they do make it to safe place and have enough time to develop some self-esteem, independence, and outside support, then they realize that they should have left long ago.

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