What breaking up with an abuser is like

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

When I broke up with him, I went for a walk around Hyde Park.

It was a grey windy day at the end of May. I looked up at the leaves moving as the wind blew. I smiled. I felt free. I had done it. “No one will call me crazy again,” I thought.

The hardest bit was done, I thought, and in some sense, it was. I finally believed in myself. I blew away his gaslighting cloud. A voice inside me screamed: enough. Enough! I honoured my emotions and demanded a better life – away from him.

But here’s the thing with abusers. They want to keep abusing. They’ve been used to abusing you. In some distorted way, that’s what love is for them. At that point I had no idea the kind of monster rejection would turn him into. There was no way he would accept that he lost his favourite thing.

What an abuser will do when you break up with them:

• They will start love-bombing you again.

• They will reveal their worst side, because their fragile ego is hurt.

• They will be extremely volatile. Their mood can change within seconds.

• You will feel unsafe around them.

• They will blame everything on you.

• They will stalk you.

• They will disregard any of your pleas for them to stop and leave you alone.

• If they’re addicted to substances they will start consuming them.

• They will team up with other people you've pushed away.

• They will try to turn people against you.

After you break up with an abusive partner, prepare for an emotional roller coaster. The abuser will try everything to make you see that you belong together; they’re such good storytellers after all. They’ll tell you that they they never felt love this like before. They’ve never experienced pain like this before. You should keep trying. You’re the one for them. The love-bombing starts once again.

When this doesn’t work and you stand your ground, things will change rapidly. In a fit of desperation, they will start accusing you of everything and anything.

In my case it was practical things. As we were living together, I had to figure out how and when to move out. I had no family in London, so I had no place to live. Plus there was a pandemic going on. He insisted that there’s no rush, I can take my time and he would even help me find a great new flat. His angelic side, the one I fell in love with, was on full-on mode.

This made me doubt my decision momentarily, but his ugly side would make a rapid reappearance. He was so desperate he kept showing me old photos of his and wanting to watch our favourite TV show together. If I did as much as say that I don’t want to watch something all hell would break loose.

I just had to get out.

My dad was having a serious surgery, which I used as an excuse to escape that house. The last days in that house were draining. He would switch from an absolute angel to a furious madman within seconds. I was constantly walking on eggshells, unsure of the next thing that would make him lose his temper. Even spending five minutes in the same room together was impossible.

As soon as I took the taxi to the train station the love-bombing started again through long dramatic texts. Ignoring these led to long accusatory messages. I was irresponsible for leaving my stuff there. He had to look at my piano daily, which reminded him of me and was breaking his heart. In his classic patronising way, he offered a parting lesson: “people take their stuff out when they move out”. And so on and so forth. In between he would send me random casual photos as if everything was fine between us and we’re pals. Here’s a funny social media post. Here’s the new shaving machine I got. The texting was so long and constant there were times I had to turn off my phone.

One day he would urge me to move my stuff out. Next day he would say everything is fine and there’s no pressure. His emotions could change by the second, but the intensity was always high.

I organised the removal of my stuff with the help of my loving friends, as I was still in a different country, taking care of my dad. Then, things got even harder. You would have thought that he would make things easy – after all, all he wanted was my things taken out. Wrong. Here comes two months of tantrums, one moment saying he will allow my friends in, then that he won’t, abusing my friends etc. He even made the key handover as difficult as possible by suddenly wanting to go on a run at the time he agreed with my friend.

The hardest bit was out of the way. Yet, because my friends couldn’t find my design tablet, I had to go back to the flat. I flew back to London for that reason. He kept sending me messages of things “I forgot”. Most of these things were empty boxes, or a package with flour. I told him to just throw these away. No, he wouldn’t, was the response. It’s my responsibility. So I go over – with a friend – and get a suitcase full of rubbish. No exaggeration. His pettiness knew no bounds.

As soon as we left I received another overtly emotional long text – saying how good it was to see me, and how we should be friends after everything we’ve been through, and how I’m his best friend.

Shortly after that I blocked him from everything. Every time I forgot a channel, he would contact me from there. He started contacting people like my dad, my friends, to ask them how they’re doing – even though they were never close. He also became friends via Facebook messages with my mother, who abused me since childhood – and he of course knew. They never really had a relationship before our break up.

I was forced to go 100% no contact. He would find a way to message me every now and then. Now a year later, he finally stopped (touch wood).

I’m sharing this story so that if you’re going through this you feel less alone, or if you’re about to break up, you can prepare. These were probably some of the hardest months in my life, but it was so worth it. If anything, it made me see clearer than ever that this person had no space in my life.

I will share my learnings as a five-step break up plan in different posts, but the one thing I was advised to do, and would advise everyone to religiously follow, is the no contact rule. Don’t talk to them – unless you have to. Resolve all your practical issues, so you don’t have to come in contact. Find a mediator if you can. Then block them from all social media and communication platforms.

The beginning will be hard. It will feel like a fog has moved away and finally you can clearly see what was happening. You can finally be yourself, find love, feel joy.

Beautiful flowers will blossom in your garden once again. Think of this painful part as getting rid of all the weeds the abuser spread.

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