How To Move On From An Emotionally Abusive Relationship

07 Jun 2016

“How do I move on from an emotionally abusive relationship?” is just about the most important question you can ever ask yourself.  It beats hands down the other common end-of-relationship questions like:

  • “How could he treat me that way?”
  • “Will I ever be able to trust again?”
  • “Is it really all my fault?” and
  • “Will I live to regret it? (It could have been so wonderful.)”

The first thing that question “How do I move on from an emotionally abusive relationship?” has going for it is this: it looks beyond the relationship, not back at it.  Looking back is NOT a great way to move forward.

But not every woman who leaves an emotionally abusive husband is truly ready to move forward.  Too many of us ( once upon  a time, this was certainly me too) take the step of calling time on the relationship only because they hope it will lead them back – to a New and Improved  Life with their Prince-in-Mr-Nasty-clothes.

Nobody has ever said this to me in so many words, but here’s the bottom line: most emotionally abused women leave their Mr Nasty in the hope that their act will lance the boil of his nastiness.  That will allow all the pus to drain away so the wound can heal – leaving not even the merest hint of a scar. (If you’re sensing that they still feel a strong attraction to him, you would be right.)

If only it were that easy.

Unfortunately ( to stick with this yukky metaphor) it’s not enough to lance someone else’s boil to have the pus from your own infection drain away.  (N.B. Please remember contracting an infection in the first place does NOT in any way reflect on your value as a human being.)

It’s a very big ask to true to move on from an emotionally abusive relationship until you lance your own boil of:

  • Dying dreams,
  • Emotional debris,
  • Infected beliefs about yourself and
  • Psychological “gloop”.

(Nobody’s ever going to give me the Nobel prize for science, I know, for a phrase like “psychological gloop”.  But just think about it for a moment.  Every woman I have ever worked with has been left with a pool of destructive – and untrue – beliefs about herself, and the way her world worked.  The more we worked together to clean out those gloopy, untrue beliefs, the better her life became.)

For anyone to move on from an emotionally abusive relationship two things have to happen.

#1 How to move on from an emotionally abusive relationship  – Understand

You have to get clear about what really happened in the relationship and what it means.  Over the years, I’ve worked with a number of women who’ve said:

“He’s threatened to kill/harm me, but I know he wouldn’t do it.”


There are never any guarantees that an emotionally abusive man will not make good on his threats.  In any case, this person has just stated his intent to harm and/or destroy you.  That is S-E-R-I-O-U-S.

You need to understand that an emotionally abusive partner is very dangerous for you. The urge to harm you probably won’t fade too much with time.  Most emotionally abusive men will take a pot-shot at you whenever they can.  Even years later.

You didn’t create him, and you’re not responsible for his awfulness. So, it’s time to accept that an emotionally abusive partner’s awfulness is  his own achievement . It’s time to finally accept that your emotionally abusive partner is a thoroughly nasty individual.

#2 How to move on from an emotionally abusive relationship  – Let go

You need to let go of the fantasy, and  stop looking at your shared past through rose-tinted spectacles

As Lenny Kravitz wisely observed; “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over.”  For an emotionally abusive partner that may well mean NEVER. My emotionally abusive ex flew the flag for abusers everywhere when he told me:

“I will fight you ‘til I die.”

That’s not his full-time occupation, I have to say.  From what little I know about him, he keeps himself busy, and amused.  However, he has stood by his word.  Years later, when he’s had a good opportunity to be a nuisance, he hasn’t passed it up.

Abuse is like a rope.  An abusive man never lets go of “his” end of the rope. He’ll do whatever it takes to drive you to pick up “your” end.  That rope, just like the Red Shoes – in the horrid fairy tale of the same name – will become bonded to you.  If you fail to heed the warning to leave well alone.

You cannot truly move on from an emotionally abusive relationship until you commit to letting go of your partner.  That really does mean letting go of the desire for reconciliation of any kind whatsoever.

Letting go means letting of the hunger to hear him apologise, as much as to rebuild the relationship.

Letting go means letting go of the “sadness” that you can’t turn him into the person he doesn’t want to be.

Letting go means letting go of your need for him to validate you  in all the roles you have played for him.

Letting go means letting go of your guilt about him not being a better father to your children.

Letting go means not trying to be “civilized” and having nice conversations with him.

Letting go means  giving up on beating yourself up for not being ‘good enough’.

If you worry about how to move on from an emotionally abusive relationship, understanding and letting go are essential.  If you are still struggling to hold on to an understanding about the true nature of the abuse, and your abuser, my book, “Married to Mr Nasty” should help you. If you’re struggling to feel free of your emotionally abusive partner, then there is more letting go that needs to happen.  If you‘ve been struggling for a while to let go of your abusive partner, and you need personal help and support,  get in touch.

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.

4 thoughts on “How To Move On From An Emotionally Abusive Relationship”

  1. Dear Annie

    Can you please help me? I am at breaking point due to the fact I keep going back and getting involved with my emotionally abusive husband, time and time and time again.
    I broke away for 12months, moved to a new city, started a new job and study, yet still I made that contact again and still no change.
    I’m built right up and told all the things I want to hear. He even drove to other end of the country to buy a puppy for us, put a deposit on it and then pulled away from me for a week.
    I know I need help and support to look at myself and ask why why why do I go back?
    Please can you offer me some support?

    • Dear Julie,

      I have just seen your comment.

      If you want help, the best thing is to contact me via email.

      Warm wishes,


  2. I have been with my husband for 34 years,3 children and 3 grandchildren .
    This is our second time in 6 months splitting up . My children begged me not to go back with him. They wouldn’t even talk to me they were so angry.
    I stupidly thought I could help him get over his anger issues. But today was the last straw apparently I was cruel to him all those years not him. I told him I was going to counselling he said good you need it you are really screwed up . I asked him if he was going and he wouldn’t respond. This was my true awakening . I thought I could change him so we could be a family again but there is no going back. We married when I was 20 he was 26 ,we had a child . I grew up without my father and thought this was the best for our kids. I now relieve that my love for him was not returned and I just tried to fill void that I didn’t have .I just want to tell you your post advice will help me immensely so thank you .


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