Breaking Up Safely

Breaking Up Safely

We here at loveisrespect were deeply saddened by the death of Massachusetts teen Lauren Astley. During her shift at a clothing boutique, Astley’s phone was “blowing up” with text messages from her ex-boyfriend, her supervisor said. The texts were so unrelenting that she agreed to meet with him after she finished work. Read more about it here.

The most dangerous time for a partner in an abusive relationship is when the relationship is ending. As the power and control is slipping through the fingers of the abuser, the anger and hurt they feel over the breakup often translates into very serious violence. We get a lot of calls and chats from abused partners wanting to break things off, but they’re afraid of what could happen next. It can be helpful to come up with a plan. Here are some things to think about:

  • You don’t owe them anything. This person hurt you and, in many cases, destroyed your self-esteem, all while being totally aware of what they were doing. It does not matter if they grew up in an abusive home, are stressed out, don’t know any better, whatever. Most likely, they don’t treat other people in their life this way, so they know it is wrong. Breaking up with an abusive partner needs to be like ripping off a Band-aid: the faster, the better. You don’t owe them an explanation, a face-to-face breakup, another chance or even a returned phone call. You owe yourself the peace of mind of being safe.
  • Be clear that you don’t want any further contact. This can be hard to swallow, but it will be better for you in the long run. You can’t change their behavior, but you can change your own. Blocking them through social media, phone and email can take away their ability to contact you, so that would be a potential option, too.
  • If you do decide to meet with them, take someone with you. A quick getaway if your partner starts to become angry is a must for this situation. If you can’t have someone there with you, at least have someone on speed dial and let a few people know what time you leave and what time you want to be home. Always meet in public where there will be other people around and be insistent on not leaving the sight of at least one other set of eyes (even if they are a stranger’s).
  • Know what you want to say and you want to say it. It is so tempting to fall back into the relationship. Keep a list handy (at all times) of why you broke things off. Some things are unforgivable from a partner and insults, physical harm or threats definitely fall into this category. Be sure that what you are saying makes it clear that you have suffered enough and don’t want them in your life. Be strong; we know you can do it!
  • If you have to see them at school, let your teachers and/or guidance counselor know. You have a right to feel safe on the way to school, at school and on the way home. If this person is taunting or threatening you at school, it is important that you let someone know. Develop a plan for when you’re at school to keep you feeling safe. Have a friend walk you to class and have a place to go after school (like your favorite teacher’s class) if you need to wait for a parent to pick you up. Take a hiatus from any extracurriculars you share with your ex-partner.
  • Call, chat or text with us. If we are pros at anything, it is definitely safety planning. We can talk you through more specific strategies for your breakup.

Your safety is a priority, and that includes more than physical safety. Being emotionally safe matters, too. Get in touch with us for support! You can also check out our page on safety planning.

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