Disclaimer: The content on our website is for informational purposes only and is not legal or medical advice. View the full disclaimer here.

Something Just Isn’t Right

what do i do after i leave an abusive relationship
Photo by Anthony Tran


You realize that you are in an abusive relationship. 


This is heavy stuff, but you can navigate this. 

Deep down you may have known something was wrong in your relationship, but you just didn’t know what. 

Now that you know, remember that you have options. At the end of the day, the major decision will be to stay or go. You need to decide how much longer you are going to live like this.

And only YOU can make that decision. 

If You Choose to Stay

If you choose to stay in your relationship, here are some things to consider:

1. How Can You Keep Yourself as Safe as Possible?

Create a safety plan for yourself and your children. A safety plan is a plan that includes the name and contact info of your supportive family and/or friends, where you can go in an emergency, your professional supports if relevant, and important special considerations you need to remember (ex. No contact orders, parenting order etc).

Consider what your boundaries will be, if you will have access to money and where your safe place is inside and outside your home. You should have a clear boundaries of how much you will tolerate from your partner before it becomes an emergency and you need to leave the home.

2. How ‘Bad’ Does the Abuse Have to Get Before You Leave?

Ask yourself, how far is too far? If the abuse is bad enough to call 911 is that enough for you to leave for safety? Know your limit and when you would call for help. 

3. Do Your Children Know the Safety Plan?

Make sure your children know the safety plan and rehearse it with them. You should also let your support people know your safety plan and their roles in it.

4. You Can Always Change Your Mind.

Know that you can always change your mind. Abuse always escalates. If an abuser does not make a sincere effort to change, your situation will not change. Separation is ugly. Divorce is not God’s best for you. However, living in fear and being abused IS NOT God’s PLAN FOR YOU. Do not think you need to stay in an abusive situation just because you are a Christian.

5. Are You Allowing God Into Your Situation?

Keep God at the centre and core of your life. Pray for strength and safety daily. Pray for a supportive family member or friend if you don’t have anyone. Ask for guidance and trust He is always there and will help you when you need it.

If You Choose to Leave

If you choose to leave in your relationship, here are some things to consider:

1. Do You Have a Safety Plan?

It is ideal to have a safety plan. If you need help creating a safety plan, find a social worker, advocate or counselor who will create one with you. You can also search online for a safety plan if you need help, such as this one from the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

A good safety plan will help you think about the details of leaving an abusive relationship including access to money, legal options, remembering important documents and even planning the ‘event’ or day you will leave,  and who will be available to support you.

Try to print your safety plan and give it to someone you trust. If you keep a copy of the plan, keep it somewhere where the abuser will not find it or have access. It might sound like a lot, but when you leave your relationship you are very vulnerable and at a high level of risk because the abuser is losing control of you. 

2. Have You Prepared a Getaway Bag?

Keep a getaway bag somewhere accessible but unknown to the abuser. This could be in the trunk of your car or at a friend’s home. This bag should include extra clothing for you and your children, important documents, money if possible, and anything you may need if you cannot return home for a time. 

3. Do you need a protection or parenting order?

Consider the need for a no-contact order and/or a parenting order. A parenting order is highly recommended to clarify who will have day-to-day care of the kids, what access will look like, and avoid future allegations and problems from your partner. 

A no-contact order (such as an emergency protection order or restraining order) may be necessary if you fear for the safety of yourself and your children after you leave. Keep records of abusive incidents, text messages, emails etc as they may be required to back up your application for a no-contact order. It’s important to note that an emergency protection order can be obtained shortly after a violent incident between you and your abusive partner.

Both a parenting order and no-contact orders involve the court to be granted and active.

4. You May Feel Like Returning to the Relationship

You may feel the urge to return back to the relationship, especially if he makes promises to change. It’s normal to feel this way, so don’t beat yourself up about it. However remember that nobody changes overnight, including your husband despite all the promises he may offer you.

In the moments when you feel like returning, talk to a friend, family or therapist about what you are experiencing. Pray. Tell God about your feelings and that you want to do what’s best for you in this situation. It is also normal to feel like you miss your partner, despite all the pain they have caused you. Again, feel what you are feeling and try to not engage in self shame.

5. Should You Talk to Your Employer?

It might be a good idea to tell your employer that if your husband comes by and asks to see you, they do not allow him access. You do not want him causing chaos or a scene at your job. This is not only embarrassing for you, but you and your coworkers could be at risk. You also do not want him jeopardizing your job by constantly coming around or being inappropriate.

If you have a parenting order and the daily care of your children, and/or your children are on the no-contact order, talk to the school about what is and what is not allowed concerning your husband’s access to the children. 

6. Seek Therapy/Counselling

You have experienced alot of confusion, trauma and heartache. It’s up to you if you would like to seek pastoral counselling or from a trained professional. It’s important to understand that most pastors are not trained to help victims of domestic violence or trauma, so their support is limited.

After leaving you will most likely feel lost, scared and unsure of your future. Your heart and spirit need healing. Your body and mind will need to rest and calm down and be free from fight or flight mode. Walking this journey alone is tough. So seek all the support you can. You deserve it. 

You are not alone. Many women are or have been in an abusive marriage. So don’t shame yourself or your situation.

Take back some of your power and clarify what changes and decisions you can make right now. No matter if they are big or small. Without taking some sort of action, nothing in your life will change.