Are you in the process of preparing to leave an abusive relationship? If you are, you’ve got a lot of things to consider. One of the most important is where do you go from here – as in, where will you live when you leave?
Finding a Safe Place to Live When You Leave an Abusive Relationship
Once you are ready to leave your abusive relationship, and you have the important documents you need in hand, you’ve got a good start. You’ll have your car fueled up and ready to go when you make that final move. Where do you go? Fortunately, there are options. Making that plan before you leave is an absolute must – but when you’re being financially abused (as is often the case in these toxic relationships) or you’re struggling financially for any reason, you might be worried about how you’ll survive. And of course, you’ve got to consider your safety, as well as the safety of your kids, if you have any. Even a “non-violent” abuser can become violent when you leave – so be very careful.
What is Financial Abuse?
Financial Abuse is a manipulation and control tactic used by an abuser in which they use money to control and or manipulate you. This can be done by restricting you from accessing family money or by forcing you to provide all of the money. Financial abuse may involve blatant lying about, theft of, and/or hiding of family money, among other forms of manipulation and control.
This video offers an expanded discussion on financial abuse in toxic relationships.
Places to Live When You Leave an Abusive Relationship
Whether you’re dealing with financial abuse or not, you still might not be sure where to go when you’re getting out of the relationship. Here are some options you can consider for a place to live when you’re leaving an abuser.
Maybe You Don’t Have to Leave
While this is not always an option, in some cases, you might actually be able to keep your home and kick the abuser out. This could be the case when you owned the home prior to the relationship, or when you’ve paid for all or most of the home. It might also be the case when you have children who are school-aged. However, as you’re probably well-aware, getting a toxic person to leave their home can be nearly impossible in some cases. If that is your situation, you might temporarily leave and work with an attorney to legally evict them.* Be sure to check the eviction laws in your area and speak to an expert or attorney who can help.
*This is not legal advice and should not be taken as such. Always check your local laws.
Set Yourself Up Ahead of Time
If you’re not being financially abused and you can’t keep your existing home, you could set yourself up in a new home or apartment on the down-low. Don’t let the abuser know what you’re doing. Make sure your phone isn’t being tracked, and if it is, leave it at home and get a backup while you set up the new place so they won’t be able to find the new place if that is a concern. Over the course of a month or so, you could rent a new place and set it up, slowly moving your things a little at a time. Then, you can just be gone one day when your abuser comes home. Alternatively, one survivor I know happened to own an apartment building. She actually moved her abuser into an apartment and taped the key, address, and a goodbye note to her front door the day she changed the locks. Obviously, this option is not going to work for everyone who is in this situation as narcissists and other abusers often DO financially abuse their victims.
Stay With A Trusted Friend Or A Trusted Family Member
You might have the option to crash with a friend or family member for a while while you get back on your feet. Be aware that it’s really important for you to be open and honest about the abuse you endure when you speak to this person about staying with them. Even if this person isn’t able to let you stay forever, it can be a way to get out immediately and plan your next steps.
However, not everyone is so fortunate to have a trusted friend or family member who will gladly take them in after they leave an abusive relationship. Since most abusers end up isolating their victims, you may have no one left who you feel you can trust. Don’t worry – as alone as you feel, there are hundreds of thousands of people in the same position. But what do you do in that case? And what happens to you if you are in that position? Fortunately, there are other options you can consider.
Find A Domestic Violence Shelter
If you cannot go and stay with a trusted friend or family member, you can always stay at a domestic violence shelter. These shelters are also known as women’s shelters, and they are generally a group of apartments or a building where abused women can escape from their abusers. Even better, these shelters will be sensitive to your specific situation, so you never have to worry about the abuser finding out where you are as everything is kept private. You will be given a burner phone or an unlisted landline in the meantime, or you can always change your cell number.
If you have children, the good news is that there is usually enough room for both you and the children. Generally, the shelter will provide everything for your basic needs, including childcare and food. You cannot stay at the shelter for an infinite amount of time, but you won’t need to worry about that. If you don’t have a job, the shelter will help you find one (and even offer you job training in many cases). You’ll also get help with finding a permanent place to live when the time comes for you to do so. The great thing about the shelter is that you can receive access to legal help, support groups, counseling, financial help, health services, and educational opportunities.
In other words, you are not left high and dry if you go to a shelter – you’ll be given help and resources that can save you in so many ways.
Staying Safe at a Domestic Violence Shelter
Often, when you’ve been in an abusive relationship with a toxic narcissist, you might find yourself worried that they will become stalkers (and they often do). The domestic violence shelter option can be your safest bet in these cases if you don’t have a friend or family member who can protect you.
You are usually not required to give your personal information when you go to a shelter, and they may even give you a false name to keep you protected. If you are unsure how to get access to a shelter, you can talk to your therapist and look for organizations in your area about domestic abuse. Reach out to them, and they will be there to help you.
Alternative Option for a Place to Stay When Leaving a Narcissist
If you don’t have a friend or family member you can stay with, and you’re not able to get into a shelter (or prefer not to), you might need an alternative option for a place to go when you leave. So, here’s a quick, easy, and relatively cheap place to live (at least temporarily) when you leave your abuser. This idea came from one of the members of our SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Group chat.
Important to Consider: If you choose to move to a new city or area to get away from your abuser, you will need to become acclimated to the new location. That also means if you have kids, they will need to go to a new school.
Ultimately, remember this: You are never completely stuck. And while leaving might mean that you have to temporarily adjust your lifestyle, it can also mean that you actually get your life back. You deserve that – and you do not need to trap yourself with the abuser. You can break free and stay safe. Here are some additional resources for you.
Find a safe place to stay when leaving an abusive relationship
In the US: visit Womenslaw.org for a state-by-state directory of domestic violence shelters in the U.S.
If you’re in a relationship with someone who is abusing you, whether this is physically, psychologically, emotionally, or otherwise, and you’re ready to consider leaving them, you may not know where to begin.
If your partner is a narcissist and has been subjecting you to narcissistic abuse, gaslighting, and other forms of manipulation, you might have spent a lot of time doubting yourself, not sure whether you’re right and they’re toxic, or whether they are right and you’re crazy. If you do still happen to be doubting yourself, you might be interested in taking one of my free narcissistic abuse recovery self-assessments, right here.
Tips to Prepare to Leave a Toxic Relationship with a Narcissist Safely
What can you do to prepare yourself to leave a toxic and abusive relationship? It is not as easy as picking up and going. Here are some of the most important things to consider before you leave a narcissist and an abusive relationship.
Know Where You Stand Financially
Financial abuse is real when it comes to narcissists, and the last thing you want to do is leave the abusive relationship and find out the hard way you are not financially fit to leave. That is a critical step to take when you are married to an abusive person – and there are some really specific things of which to be aware. Once you know the financial facts, you can present them to the court, and you will get your fair share of the money. That means you must know what you have in the bank and all of the debt that you carry. A bonus tip is to take screenshots of the accounts, so you know what you have available before you go. This video offers additional tips on dealing with financial abuse in toxic relationships.
Grab Essential Documents
The last thing you want to do is leave essential documents behind so you will want to collect them. Make sure you have access to your personal IDs such as your driver’s license and passport, your birth certificate, as well as the ones of your children, passports, marriage license, investment numbers, car documents, and social security number. Make sure you have your bank and mortgage/lease information as well. Take pictures of them if you are afraid that the abuser will destroy them. The PLAN covers a full list of documents you’ll want to gather before you go.
Begin Saving Money And Get A Job If You Must
As much as you want to make sure that you get your fair share of the money you’re due from the marriage, you will want to make sure that you begin saving your own. If you need to get a job, even a side hustle, you should do it That will only help you feel more secure about leaving your abuser. Many abused spouses stay in toxic marriages because of finances. If you can support yourself and your kids if you have any, even if you are just getting by, that is better than staying in a toxic relationship. These days, there are plenty of work-from-home jobs you could do, even without telling the narcissist, if you play it right. Just be careful with your earnings and keep them in a separate account from the narcissist’s money. You can look into services like PayPal or online banks like Chime to create a private account without the narcissist’s knowledge, for example. Bonus tip: you might also want to consider checking your credit through a free service like Credit Sesame, which also offers you tips on how to improve your credit score. This video offers additional tips on how to leave a narcissist with no money.
Make Changes To Passwords
If you are afraid that the abuser is monitoring your social media activity and emails, then you want to change your passwords, so your abuser does not have access to any of it. Change all of your passwords, whether for social media, online banking, or any other platform. Keep the passwords in a safe list that the abuser cannot access.
Tell Your Friends And Trusted Family Members The Truth
When you are about to leave your abuser, you must tell those you trust to support you through it and even offer you a place to stay temporarily until you can get on your feet. You will also feel more secure and safe while leaving, and you will also need them to encourage you to go on with your plan for leaving as it is a daunting thing to do, but a courageous thing you can do for yourself.
Reach Out To Experts And Shelters
If you don’t know where to begin when it comes to preparing yourself to leave the abusive relationship, contact a family lawyer, a therapist, a narcissistic abuse recovery coach, or another expert who can safely advise you. Many lawyers offer initial free consultations and advise you on collecting financial data and everything you need. Also, contact shelters or a therapist can give you some leads to shelters if you are unsure where to look. Be sure to check out our domestic violence resources page as well.
Leaving an abuser is a scary thing to do, but if you utilize these tips and get the support you need, you can do it. You deserve to be safe and healthy.
QueenBeeing Resources for Narcissistic Abuse & Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
How many times has it happened to you? You love someone who you think loves you back. But when that person is a narcissist, all bets for a happy and emotionally safe relationship are off. So what is it that causes the narcissist to dump on you emotionally? Why are narcissists so mean to you when they’re stressed or upset about something OUTSIDE of you?
Why does the narcissist emotionally dump on you?
Are you tired of getting emotionally dumped on by a narcissist? When a narcissist is stressed about anything in their life, they take it out on their primary source of narcissistic supply – and most likely, if you’re here, watching this video, you’re it, my friend. As you might know, narcissists are secretly incredibly insecure – and that’s why they tend to “pass the hot potato” when they feel like they can’t handle their emotions.
Narcissists tend to dump their emotional garbage on you to relieve themselves of their pain and suffering.
Often when this has happened, the narcissist suddenly feels better and finds themselves feeling great – meanwhile, having served as an emotional dumpster takes its toll on you – the victim and primary source of narcissistic supply.
How does the narcissist’s emotional dumping affect you?
Life with a narcissist is already stressful, right? But when they start using you as a proverbial “emotional dumpster,” things feel so much more desperate. Not only do they use you as a way to relieve their stress and struggles, but it seems like they want to hurt you sometimes. And they do.
Worse, they can be so cruel that they cause you to live in fear, anxiety, and depression. There is no level to which the narcissist will not stoop to hurt you.
This is why they go so far as to seek out precisely the “right” buttons to push; that part of you that has been left scarred. You know – those most painful triggers that make you lose it, thanks to the most agonizing traumas in your life – before and during the relationship. As a rule – the more serious your injuries from life have been – the greater your chances are of being targeted by the narcissist.
Start Getting Help with Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Today
Toxic family relationships can take a toll on anyone who has to deal with them, especially when mental illness is involved. Any sort of mental illness or personality disorder among family members, especially left untreated, can cause stress and discord in the family, but sometimes, the affected person doesn’t even realize there’s a problem. This is especially the case with narcissistic personality disorder, generally because a narcissist, by nature, sees no fault in him/herself. And he/she’s not capable of it, either.
How do you identify narcissistic personality disorder?
Spending time with a narcissist isn’t easy, and if you’ve ever dealt with someone with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), you’ll know exactly what I mean.
“They tend to exaggerate in an immensely obvious way – as people, they’re unusual in their personality,” says clinical psychologist Jillian Bloxham. “It becomes very evident when a person is narcissistic.”
NPD is a tricky condition because often, narcissists don’t even realize anything is wrong–so identifying narcissistic personality disorder can be a challenge–but mostly for the narcissists themselves.
In general, narcissists are known for their sense of personal entitlement that causes them to expect people around them to cater to their every desire, to anticipate their every need, and to respond post-haste in fulfilling them.
“It is good to think highly of yourself – but for these people, it is out of control,” says personality disorders expert and consultant forensic psychologist Kerry Daynes. “It has gone off the scale.”
What are the symptoms of narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)?
Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is not considered to be a “mental illness,” but a personality disorder that manifests in an inflated sense of importance, a deep need for excessive attention and admiration, troubled relationships, and a lack of empathy for others. The official list of symptoms is as follows.
A victim of narcissistic personality disorder will exhibit at least five of the following traits*
1. A grandiose sense of self-importance
2. A preoccupation with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. A belief that he or she is “special” and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
4. A requirement for excessive admiration
5. A sense of entitlement – unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
6. Interpersonal exploitativeness – taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
7. A lack of empathy and an unwillingness to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
8. Enviousness of others – along with the belief that others are envious of him or her
9. A tendency to arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
Source: Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-IV*
Do you know a narcissist?
Narcissists tend to be caught up in their own lives, their own personal worlds. This means that in general, they have no time to consider the feelings, thoughts or needs of the people around them. Rather than offer sympathy if you are dealing with pain or frustration, they’ll just share some of their own with you (which, of course, will be far more serious than your own.)
While a narcissist may appear to be an upbeat, happy person to outsiders in his or her life, people who know him or her intimately are likely to see a whole other personality. This can manifest in several ways–but a primary marker is that they are unable to empathize with those around them, and they consistently blame others for problems they’ve caused.
For example, the narcissist may try to pressure the family member into conforming to his or her wishes, and if that doesn’t work, additional and potentially life-altering steps may be taken to get what is desired.
Because narcissists are incapable of empathizing with others, they don’t even consider (or care) how their words or actions could affect others–and they will never admit that they are wrong. Instead, they will play the victim and use the situation to gain more attention from others around them.
As with any other toxic family situation, it may be best to distance yourself from a person with NPD. This is especially true because they don’t generally realize that anything is wrong. Plus, there is currently no known “cure” for NPD–though if a person affected with it seeks therapy, change is possible. However, it’s very unusual for a person with NPD to seek therapy since they don’t see a problem with their behavior.
“Why would someone who thinks they’re special and great come for therapy?” Bloxham says.
Are you in a relationship with someone who makes you feel crazy and “not good enough” all the time? Do you find yourself constantly shocked at the outrageously disrespectful behavior and excessive bullying of a friend, family member or co-worker?
Narcissists and people with narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) make you feel worthless and numb, and they leave you wondering if you’re even a real person sometimes. (Read more)
Take this quiz to determine if someone you know could be a narcissist.
“No matter what you’re going through, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and it may seem hard to get to it but you can do it and just keep working towards it and you’ll find the positive side of things.” ~Demi Lovato
The Brick Wall in Narcissistic Abuse and Toxic Relationships
If you ask me, being in a relationship with a narcissist feels a lot like running your head into the same brick wall, over and over. And despite the fact that it gets bloody and beaten, you don’t stop. You just keep running your head into the wall, hoping to get through it (and make it happy) – and while you logically realize, eventually, that there’s no breaking that wall down, and that the wall is not capable of change, something in you makes you keep hitting the wall, bloodying your head and hoping for different results.
How do you find hope when you’re dealing with narcissistic abuse?
So let’s talk about the light at the end of the tunnel. I’m about to wax philosophical on your ass, so get ready. If you’ve ever been in a relationship with a narcissist, you can probably agree that eventually, you stop living for yourself and start living to avoid the next blow-up, drama, or manipulation.
So many people have come to me as they were beginning the process of recovering from an abusive narcissist asking me how I was able to redefine and rediscover myself after escaping my own narcissistic abuse situation. And this is what I tell them.
As I see it, living without that kind of passion is sort of like living in the dark. Food doesn’t taste as good, the air doesn’t smell as nice, the colors don’t seem as bright.
Without passion in our lives, it’s as though there’s a barrier between our senses and the world around us, one which doesn’t allow us to fully experience our lives.
This barrier could present itself in the way of depression, anger, fear, or any number of debilitating emotions. Or maybe there’s a certain situation in our lives of which we’ve lost control. Maybe it’s simply that we’re bored, and that we’ve begun to take our blessings for granted.
This can lead to a very toxic state for our souls and even our bodies. But we can change our minds, and this can change our lives. Start now by trying this Bliss Mission.
Bliss Mission: Discover What Inspires You
Begin with figuring out what inspires you. Then, find a way to make it happen. This can help you to start living with passion, and living with passion is one of the first steps to becoming whole, to becoming truly happy.
Whatever your passion or inspiration, take some small step toward it today, and let the rest flow. If you’re not sure where to start, consider taking a walk to clear your head, or writing in a journal to work it out. You could draw or paint a picture, or cook your favorite meal. Take a bath or do a little yoga. Whatever works for you.
Tell yourself that today is the day that you begin living with passion and purpose. And then, my friends, do it. Your life will be richer and your heart will be happier.
Feel good! You ready? Let’s do this.
Resources to Help with Gaslighting in Narcissistic Abuse