Last week I talked about salvaging an abusive relationship. Sometimes you don’t want to save a relationship, but you can’t get out. There can be lots of reasons for this. When it happens, you can only survive as best you can while slowly building the resources that will let you escape.
Here are some tips for surviving an abusive relationship:
1) Pick your battles. Sometimes you need to stand up to an abuser, but don’t be afraid to back down when you need to. Don’t use up your physical and emotional health on everything that comes up. Fight for the things that matter.
2) It’s fight, flight, bluff, submit. We talk about the fight or flight response, but it’s really a bit more complicated than that. If you can’t fight, and you can’t flee, sometimes bluff works. That can mean pretending to be more beaten than you are. It can mean pretending to go along while you plan your escape. It can mean pretending to be sick so you can see your doctor more often—which may give you an opportunity to plan your escape.
And as painful as it is, sometimes submit works too. Give in for now. Let them have control. And look for an opportunity to get away.
3) Have people you can trust. Friends, other poly partners, family, a counsellor, have people you can go to. People who will give you emotional support, help you get an afternoon out, and people you can call in an emergency.
4) Build your resources. Whatever is keeping you there, you can’t escape until you have the resources to replace it. That could be a place to live, money, medical care, or a host of other things. The people you trust can help with this. If your abuser tracks your internet usage, a friend can run searches for you. A poly partner can hold onto the escape fund you are slowly saving up. A counsellor can find back-to-work programs or help you get approved for a home health aide.
Remember: there is no shame in survival. Do what you have to for now, get out when the time is right, and outlive the bastards.
This post is part of the Abuse in Polyamory blog series.