How I Found The Courage To Leave An Emotionally Abusive Husband

17 May 2016

Courage to leave an emotionally abusive husband is vital. It’s something that any woman who has ever been in an emotionally abusive relationship feels she lacks and desperately wants to find. Handed to her on a plate, preferably. Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

If you’re struggling because you have yet t find the courage to leave an emotionally abusive husband, the important thing you need to know is this; don’t let it get you down.  The courage you need will come.  Maybe when you least expect it.

I say that as someone who believed that she alone would never find the courage to leave.

I lacked the courage to leave an emotionally abusive husband

Before I found the courage to leave my emotionally abusive husband, I spent years vainly wanting, hoping to find it, and failing dismally. I spent long years despising and berating myself for my lack of courage, as all emotionally abused women do. The then husband was well aware of my lack of courage. That lack of courage was one more thing he used to humiliate me.

Those were, without a doubt, the unhappiest years of my life.

Why rescue sucks

The wasband and I met at a time when I was struggling – not least in the courage department. My relationship with my family of origin was breaking down. I was devastated. He came along (in a plum-colored Peugeot) and rescued me. He wasn’t the most gallant rescuer in the history of the world. But at the time, I believed that rescue was my only hope (so I was prepared to overlook a certain lack of gallantry. He’d never have cut it as a Disney prince but, hey, right place at the right time…)

I was young enough to be forgiven for not knowing that rescue comes at a very high price. I truly did not know any better.

I did the classic thing of doing everything I possibly could to escape having to have difficulties today.

How was I to know that.

A major life problem deferred is a problem that just keeps on growing.

Rescue appeals to the little girl in most women (young or old). In the best of all possible worlds, a rescuer would step in, support you through the immediate difficulty, and then vanish gracefully into the thin air. (Or else fall deeply – and respectfully – in love with you for precisely those qualities that you did not show in the crisis; such as strength, resilience, and independence.)

Unfortunately, most rescuers don’t operate like that. Most emotionally abusive men who ‘rescue’ damsels in distress are on the lookout for a woman who cannot take care of herself. They have an unspoken contract which states that by rescuing you today, they obligate you to be grateful and subservient forever after.

The Rescue Program is all about setting up a win-lose relationship. They win. You lose.

Abusive men are not remotely interested in helping you get back on your feet. They are interested in keeping you dependent – and co-dependent. Their key life skills include undermining your sense of self.

That is why I, like so many other abused women struggled for so long to find the courage to leave an emotionally abusive husband.

What led me to leave

What led me to leave was a painting. Maybe it only happened because I could never have predicted where  one painting could possibly lead.

It happened like this. After over 20 years in my miserable marriage, I fell madly in love one day with a painting I saw in (of all places) a kitchen shop in Rome. At the time, I was studying. My income and my self-worth were both at rock bottom. That painting ‘spoke’ to me.  I had to have it.  The then husband, a highly paid professional, asked me (nastily) how I was going to pay for it.

Instead of giving up on what I wanted, as I usually did, I simply said: 

“I’ll find a way.”

In the end, I sold some furniture that I owned. Then, I started clearing clutter from our home. The final piece of clutter to go (was I often say) was the wasband.

What I have learned, and what I now teach, is that the courage to leave an emotionally abusive husband is a process.  You only have to start the process, wherever and however you can, and a domino effect will ensue.  It really doesn’t matter how small your first steps are. The knock-on effect will be powerful and beneficial beyond anything that you can imagine at the start.

The courage to leave an emotionally abusive husband is not necessarily something that you have to screw up when you feel scared out of your head.

For me, it started when a painting fed into a passion I have always had for Italy and all things Italian. If someone could have told me how things would pan out, just before I set foot in that shop, I would have laughed in disbelief.  I might well have walked past that shop without going in. Had I done so, I would have missed out on freedom, finding my calling, making two dear friends and, further down the  line, finding the love of my life.

The courage to leave an emotionally abusive husband was given to me when I trusted the stirrings of my heart.

I believe that courage will be given to you also. Just be warned, the courage to leave an emotionally abusive husband feels like fear – a LOT like fear.

Courage is a label that defines actions rather than feelings.

Don’t ever sell yourself short again by believing that you can’t be courageous because you don’t feel courageous.

It’s a myth that you need courage before you can make big changes in your life. You don’t need courage at all. You just need to listen to take the first small steps. All roads will lead you somewhere other than where you are stuck right now.

Don’t fixate on you’re going to find the courage to leave an emotionally abusive husband. He really isn’t that important. What matters is you having a life that makes your heart sing. It’s about time you started thinking about that. It’s never too late to make that happen.

Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,

Annie Kaszina


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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