Annie’s Mailbox: Guilt over ending abusive relationship
Dear Annie: I am a 30-something woman and was in a relationship with another woman for two years. “Angie” was physically, emotionally and mentally abusive toward me.
She decided many times to break off our relationship, but would then realize she missed me. She would e-mail, text, call, send letters, etc., until I gave in and we would date again. Then the abuse would start back up, and she would leave me again so I would be “safe.” This off-and-on-again business took almost as big a toll on my self-esteem and self-worth as the physical abuse.
We currently have not spoken in four months, but in the past three days, Angie has twice managed to be where I am. When I see her in unplanned ways like this, I have anxiety attacks. She knows it upsets me because she apologizes, even though she obviously is making it a point to be in my presence.
I talked to my lawyer, and he is going to send her a threatening letter saying to refrain from all contact or a restraining order will be filed. Annie, I know this is the right thing to do, but since I made the decision, I feel guilty. I don’t want to hurt Angie. She has feelings the same as anyone else. We had some good times, and she is someone I once loved deeply.
I know I need to protect myself and my sanity, and yes, I am getting into counseling again. But I also feel sadness over losing the relationship. How can I stop feeling guilty for hurting her? – Confused
Dear Confused: Many abuse victims feel responsible for both the happiness of the abuser and the success of the relationship, and when you take the necessary steps to extricate yourself, guilt is a common consequence. By deliberately putting herself in your path, Angie is attempting to manipulate those feelings and possibly win you back. We are glad you are getting back into counseling. It will help you realize that Angie’s feelings are no longer your concern.