Divorcing an abuser: On feeling empowered for leaving an abusive relationship

Leaving an Abusive Relationship Will Lead to Self Empowerment

When actress Reese Witherspoon was interviewed by Ms. Oprah Winfrey the other day to discuss their movie A stitch in Time, she talked about how she had felt empowered on a “cellular level” after leaving an abusive relationship that had been psychologically and emotionally damaging to her. She talked about how she had no self-esteem during the relationship and how people remarked that she had changed for the better after the relationship. She expressed feeling very proud of herself for standing up for herself and leaving the relationship.

It does not come as a big surprise that someone could feel empowered for getting out of a situation that is psychologically and mentally abusive. Being locked in an abusive relationship, a marriage, in particular, must be the very worse kind of prison, and the longer that you stay in it, the more powerless you would naturally become, till, you are not even a person anymore but just a shell of what you once had been. And conversely, getting out of the situation will naturally make you feel stronger and more powerful, and in charge of your life.

One of the things that are most concerning about the types of people who first of all get into these relationships in the first place but then hopefully leave, is the relapse into a new equally abusive situation with someone new. It is almost like some people are a magnet for abusive relationships and they almost seek these types of relationships out and they start young! My stepdaughter’s best friend who is only 13 years old is already in an abusive relationship. The boyfriend keeps hitting her and leaves black marks on her arms and legs. He insults her all the time and passes it off as a joke. When I ask my stepdaughter why this friend of hers tolerates this behavior she said “because she loves him.”

Love is often another side to the coin of hate and hate is another side to the coin of love. So it is a tension. For some people, both emotions are intricately intertwined and they can’t even tell the difference and if they can, it almost does not even matter. It is the rush. They are into the rush they feel from these tense interactions and if the lines are crossed from time to time, well, this is just a part of the intercourse.

Women like Reese Witherspoon know when to pull the plug, thankfully in an abusive relationship. She has said that “a line drawn in the sand got crossed and I knew I had to get out even though it would be hard.” Hopefully, more people will follow in her footsteps and empower themselves by leaving their abusive relationships sooner rather than later.