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Why can't I leave

Community Member

I have been in a relationship with my partner for 10 years, it has been challenging to say the least. I know I don't mean much to him, I know I'll never be good enough and I don't even think we are friends. I know what I have been through has been emotional abuse but I lack the courage to leave even though I know that would be best. We have a daughter together and it hurts me to think of having to put her through a family breaking up.

I know what he says is more of a reflection of how awful and selfish he is but I fall for it and I believe the awful things he says. It makes me feel powerless and stuck. He reminds me often that I wouldn't survive without him and it makes me terrified of failing. Whenever I speak up he threatens to leave, I do think this would be best but why am I so scared of it.

I cry when I'm alone often. I don't tell my friends or family what's happening because I don't want them to worry nor do I want sympathy. Sometimes I question my worth and feel like giving up. I just don't understand how someone could be so cruel and heartless.

6 Replies 6

Hi jem jem
Welcome to the forums and thank you for being a member of this open, kind and helpful community.
We are sorry you are going through this right now; those feelings of fear (of what will happen if you leave); obligation (to keep the family together) and guilt are common feelings resulting from emotional abuse; it can be very difficult to break free from that cycle of abuse and explains why you are feeling the way you are right now.  It's important to get as much support and information as you can so that you can gain a little more clarity around what options you have from here.
We know that it can be incredibly difficult to share our story, so we want to say thank you for showing such courage in posting and sharing that experience - you never know who will read this post and feel less alone on their own journey as also for you too.
We are here 24/7 on 1300 22 4636 or via our webchat.  Our team who answer the phones are ready to have a supportive and non-judgmental chat whenever you need it. You might also find the following organization helpful in terms of your relationship:
Relationships Australia Click Here
If you would welcome other perspective, there is also 1800 RESPECT Click Here
Thank you again for joining us here and for starting this conversation. Please feel free to come back and update us on how you are feeling, if you are comfortable.
Kind regards,
Sophie M

Community Champion
Community Champion

Jem jem,

Thank you for opening up in your post, I'm so sorry to hear about your experience with your partner. It must be so isolating to feel like you're stuck with somebody who treats you like this.

In your words, your empathy for others is evident. Your daughter is lucky to have somebody who cares about her wellbeing and happiness. You are showing consideration towards your friends and family in spite of your own struggles. In my own experience as somebody who is constantly caring for others, it's easy to get overwhelmed by personal challenges when we feel we can't rely on or burden those around us.

I find that opening up to at least somebody who I'm close with about how I'm feeling can be really cathartic. If you feel comfortable doing so, find somebody who will listen respectfully and without judgement. They may also be able to offer you some direct advice, as they have greater insight into your life and surroundings.

Have you been to see a GP, therapist, counsellor, or psychologist about your experience? They may also be able to offer you some great advice from a professional standpoint, and perhaps ways in which you can build your self-esteem again. If you don't feel comfortable opening up to others in your life, it can also be really cathartic to share your experiences with one of these objective third parties.

Please also feel free to continue chatting with us here in this online space. We'd be happy to hear more from you, if you feel comfortable sharing more. We're here to support you.

All my best, SB

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni

Hello jem jem, if I can say kids become adaptive and I can say this because a very close friend of mine went through a separation a year ago, they have two young children 9 and 7 years old and both of them are happy to have 2 happy homes, rather than 1 unhappy one, and are always excited going to his place where they can do different activities, lifestyles and what they like to eat.

I can't tell you what to do, but I can suggest that if he threatens to leave then let him go, but your living arrangements need to be discussed so please get back to us.

Take care.


Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi jem jem,

I’m sorry to hear your long term relationship has been so difficult and are being emotionally abused. I too was in a DV relationship for many years and it took me a very long time to leave, much longer than it probably should have. I found it so hard to leave for a number of reasons, I was in such a weakened and confused state from being constantly blamed and gaslighted, I could barely get out of bed in the morning and get dressed and go to work, let alone packing up my belongings and figuring out how to leave and pay for somewhere else to stay. My mother had also been very emotionally abusive during my childhood, calling us names when angry etc and made out that we were extremely difficult to love so it felt “familiar” to me and I felt grateful that someone would even put up with me. I was constantly told that I would never survive without him and I heard it so much I began to believe it. I read a quote once and it said “all you need is 30 minutes of insane courage” - for me it was a day, I took the day off, packed up my car and fled. And funnily enough, despite worrying I wouldn’t survive, I thrived! I found an apartment I loved, and I started to heal. Don’t get me wrong, there were bad days/nights like any long-term relationship, it wasn’t all bad, there was a lot of good. But someone who loves you doesn’t tell you that you would never survive without them, they support you and make you feel good. You only get one life, and I decided I didn’t want to spend my life crying and feeling miserable. You are never stuck xx

Valued Contributor
Valued Contributor

Hi jem jem

I feel for you so deeply as you face significant crossroads. Struggling to figure out which way to go can be so tormenting, so mentally exhausting.

Wondering if it would make some difference to consider saying to friends and family something like 'I don't want you to worry and I don't want sympathy but what I do want, what I really need, is a solid sense of direction and an action plan for the way ahead'. If your friends and family include strategists and visionaries, they may have some strategies and visions for you that you perhaps haven't considered. Could be something along the lines of 'All I can see is the need for you to first get out of there, for a start. Come stay with me in between getting out of there and establishing somewhere to live'. Developing a solid circle of brainstormers and supporters can be so important while entering into a major transitional period. So glad you came here at the start of developing your circle. Who next, to include?

Greater self esteem may begin to develop once you leave him. In leaving, you may catch yourself thinking 'I can't believe I finally left. I'm absolutely amazed'. This defines you as amazing, if you amaze your self. 'I'm stronger than what I thought' dictates you underestimate your strength. Even 'I don't know what to do next' can point to unrecognised progress. 'Next' indicates you're moving forward beyond the previous move you've made. So, what to do next, after having come here (which is progressive move) is another question worth asking. You're making progress jem. Be proud of that. One step at a time. Even if it's simply your thoughts progressing, with no action yet, it still points to progress.

As Geoff mentioned, kids can be happier in separate households. Perhaps something to consider is 'It takes a village to raise a child'. So, how do you imagine your friends and family would help raise your child/your child's spirits through the process of separation? Would they offer your child a lot of happy moments and experiences? Maybe taking them out to places which give them the feeling of pure joy. Perhaps offering the a sense of control/management in some way, so they don't feel like everything's out of their control.

How can someone be so cruel and heartless? I've found it's a brutal side effect felt by those around a person who is purely self serving.

Community Member

Hi jem jem,

I married my abusive bf in 1987 and he became my abusive husband. It’s been almost 37 years since we met.

I have also despaired over the “why’s”

I didn’t know that I had been groomed by a narcissist. I was 17 when we met and he became my life. He threatened to tell my parents that I was promiscuous if I didn’t marry him.

I was raised in a very strict environment where I didn’t have a voice. My father controlled me at first and then handed control over to my husband.

I wanted to stop our wedding but I doubt that my parents would have allowed that. My mother was especially nasty to me leading up my wedding day and my parents made it very clear that once I was married, their door was closed to me.

So lack of parental and family support kept me in a very abusive marriage. I am still married to that man now.

Every time I summoned the courage to pack up and leave, something happened. I fell pregnant etc. my abusive husband refused to leave all the while telling me that he hated me.

I tried to make the best of a very bad situation. I suffered in silence and for the most part protected my children from him. Although my children were aware that something wasn’t quite right. They have flashbacks of the abuse. They absorbed everything that was going on.

How can someone be so cruel and heartless?

I look at my husband and often wonder what goes on inside his head. I doubt that he has a heart.

The awful tables do turn. My husband pulls me back in with the ‘I can’t live without you’ guilt trip… or my son needs his mother.

You are 10 years in… I can’t tell you to leave, but I so wished that mine left at the 10 year mark.

Stay in touch here and stay safe 🙏🏼