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When you’re in a toxic relationship – be it physically, emotionally, or verbally abusive, co-dependent, et al – it can be difficult to both recognize and to admit to from the inside. Once you do realize how bad things are, it can be equally as hard to find the right time and way to extract yourself from the situation.

If you’re looking for a way out, maybe these 15 escape stories can provide inspiration or bolster your courage.

15. He got arrested

We met online. We both had video games in common and hit it off. Fast forward 2 years and we get engaged. All was well. Until he started getting abusive toward me and our pets. I felt stuck because I could t afford to live on my own. Then he went on a business trip and I found child porn on a hidden flash drive. Turned it in, he got arrested. Turns out he was also hiring prostitutes and stuff. He’s in prison and it’s illegal for him to contact me.

14. I hope I never see him again

I dated someone for almost 3 years starting back in Grade 10 in high school. Everything was great for the first year or so, and he treated me well and we had some things in common. Didn’t realize after we broke up how much of a grade A neck beard he actually was 🤢 thought for a while that if we stayed together after high school, we could get married, because he was my first relationship and I felt like I loved him so much that I would marry him.

Then about a year and a half into the relationship he starts to show his true colours. His family never had much money, so sometimes I would help to pay for stuff for him. He started to yell and scream if I didn’t give him money to buy some game, food, etc. he wanted and many times would embarrass me in the middle of a public setting like Wal-Mart. My parents sometimes too would help pay for his gas, and that got to the point where he would come to me to ask my parents for the money cause they didn’t give it to him yet. I didn’t want to give him money all the time and even tried calling him out in it, but he would always scream and yell, saying “how dare I tell him not to take my money blah blah blah.”

He generally became emotionally and financially abusive (I didn’t know financial abuse was a thing until after we broke up), and the incident that made me really stop loving him was the night he raped me. He finally decided that waiting for me to be ready wasn’t enough so he took it. We still dated almost a year after that but out of fear of what he would do if I left him. I finally left him the next year right before my birthday after finding out that he had cheated on me again with my (now ex) best friend.

I wish I had said something sooner to my parents but only told them 3-4 years after it happened. Now I hope I never see him again.

13. The last straw

I was dating a guy who was very sweet in the beginning. After about six months he got possessive. He didn’t trust me. An example of this was one night I told him I was meeting a friend I used to work with at a bar a block away. We lived in a safe area and it was a short walk. Her name sounded like it could be male or female, but I assured him she was a she. He showed up at the bar while we were there and it made him look very insecure.

He began tracking my phone’s GPS. I found out when I stopped at a relative’s house after work on my way home and he freaked out and called my Mom. She actually knew that was where I was and he had a hard time believing I wasn’t cheating.

The last straw was my first week at a new job. I worked nights and had my phone. I got this long winded email regarding an innocent comment on a facebook selfie of me. There were screenshots of it and a huge manifesto about why my buddies online all wanted to take me away from him.

After I broke up with him, I got emails for months swinging between apologies and telling me I was the abuser. I got emails telling me he was being drugged. It was insane.

12. Things got even worse

I’ll throw my hat into the ring here.

Dated a chick years ago. She was essentially everything I thought I wanted in a girl. She was cute, funny, liked just enough things I liked for us to have common interests but just different enough to show each other new things and experiences I was heavy into her and she was heavy into.

Then things got. . . . Weird. She started getting jealous of high school friends I’d known way before her and even went as far as telling me I wasn’t allowed to hang out with some of my female friends except for the few she thought were uglier than her.

Things got worse. She started getting jealous of inanimate objects like my game consoles, and video games, some of which she gave me. It came to a head when my grandmother asked me to watch her dog. She was a tiny hand dog that I adored and one day I was half asleep and saw her literally kick this tiny dog off my bed, like with her feet. I asked her what the hell her problem was and she told me that she doesn’t like that I give the dog more attention than her.

Things got even worse. She would physically abuse me when I did things she didn’t like such as bending my fingers, hitting me in the face, etc. Eventually everything I did she didn’t like. After a while I got the courage to dump her ass and she tries to tell me she’s pregnant to keep me which is an obvious lie.

After that I discovered she’d still stalk my Facebook page, and told some of her friends and mutual friends that I was the abuser. I also learned that when I was away she’d let dudes feel her up and other stuff too.

Luckily I’ve landed a great girl that cares about me and isnt a jealous psycho like she was.

11. He thought it was funny

The worst version I have of this was a guy that I had been dating, who rammed my truck with a moving van, repeatedly, at an immigration checkpoint in New Mexico, well after dark. He thought it was funny.

He’d been behaving badly, but I just thought it was the stress of the move. The aggravated assault by U Haul is when I decided to break up with him.

He stalked me for years after that, harassing me at work, which led to me getting fired. I switched from law firms to legal software, and that seemed to make it harder to find me.

His stalking ended in blowing up a brick and mortar mailbox with plastic explosives. I think he laid low after that, because the FBI was looking for him.

He eventually moved back to California, years later. An ex girlfriend of his contacted me about seven years later when she was settling his estate. She wanted to make sure there weren’t any children.

10. Not my problem

We were actually engaged to be married.

Then she went on holidays without me and came back pregnant.

She then told me “you have never done anything to prove you really love me…accept this baby and help me raise it to prove it”

I declined and asked her to leave the home that I paid for (and that was in my name)

She refused. So I made arrangements, cancelled my lease, then left and told her there were 4 days left on the lease (I think)

She wailed “But what am I supposed to do? I don’t have a job!”

9. I never wanted to see her again

I graduated. She wanted to transfer schools. So, we moved to a college town where she told me she’d been accepted as a transfer.

Turns out she hadn’t been accepted, and when she applied, was not accepted. She got a job at Walmart while trying to figure out her next move.

After about 2 months she decides we should move to Pittsburgh. She’s convinced this will solve all her problems and make her happy … except we’re in a recession and I just got my first good job. I don’t want to move.

She became abusive. I didn’t want to go home. She was constantly negative and on the edge of a screaming fight. I was just avoiding her at the end.

We were together 4 years before that, and she was always moody but not abusive. Six months of that, and she went to her home town to take a semester at a local school and stay with her parents.

I called her two weeks later and told her not to come back. It had been like a weight was lifted from me, and I never wanted to see her again.

8. Like a frog in boiling water

I moved my ex in WAY to early. She hated where she was living and I wanted to help her with her mental state so it seemed like a good idea at the time. She didn’t have a job so I paid for everything. Whenever she finally did get a job, she would keep all the money to herself and then quit out of nowhere after a couple of weeks or so. Slowly but surely she started abusing me in pretty much every way but sexual and like a frog in boiling water, I allowed it to happen by justifying it to myself. (I even found out that “financial abuse” is a thing.

You know it’s a great relationship when it teaches you about a new form of spousal abuse) She used her mental issues to manipulate me into buying her so many things, including a fucking laptop! As soon as I ran out of money, we started having problems and $16,000 in credit card debt later, she broke up with me and continued to live in my apartment for another couple of months. She was on the lease so I couldn’t kick her out cuz legally, the apartment was her just as much as it was mine.

She finally moved out on my birthday (last December) and I’m STILL picking up the pieces

7. It’s like a switch flipped

Started dating in high school, had some ups and downs, but at the time I just chalked it up to us being immature. My last two years of college really proved he just had serious issues. When I moved out of state for good it’s like a switch flipped and he got extremely possessive and controlling.

Wanted all my friends numbers, gave me a schedule of when we “need to be in communication” and if I missed any he was blowing my phone up with threats of suicide.

Finally got the restraining order when he showed up to my friends apartment looking for me, threatening to call the police because I still had a pair of his shoes (that I didn’t even have).

6. My mom begged her to end it with him

This is about my sister. She and her ex dated on and off in high school. At some point in the 8th grade, he admitted he was in love with her and she admitted she had feelings for him, too, so they started dating in 10th grade.

I told her something was off about him. I’m not necessarily an intuitive person; I try my hardest not to judge a situation too quickly, but something about him just rubbed me the wrong way.

They dated for about 6 months and he began showing signs of abusive behavior. Like others have stated, he began calling her and keeping tabs on her. He demanded to know when she made it home and when she went to sleep. He demanded that she edit her social media (MySpace, at this time) to include pictures of them and only them so everyone knew they were together.

She visited me in the hospital (I had a severe stomach flu). Something wasn’t right, and she told me she wanted to break up with him. She told me she was a bit scared of him. He was a big guy, maybe 6’4”, about 230 pounds. My mom begged her to end it with him and she did.

The calls kept pouring in for about two weeks and she did her best to avoid him. Once I was back in school, I happened to catch an encounter between the two of them. He had her pinned against her locker telling her she wasn’t leaving until they “talked things out.” I told him to back off and he threatened me, and then she threatened him. He stormed off, punched a locker, broke two of his fingers. He dropped it for a while.

He popped up a few years later on the morning of my sister’s wedding with a love letter. We are not sure how he knew she was getting married — we all had him blocked on social media (the letter was mailed to our home which she no longer lived in).

He hasn’t come around any more, but honestly, I would not put it past him. My sister’s husband is an avid hunter, so that may be what’s keeping him away.

Edit: Did a bit of digging today and he lives about 1,400 miles away. Hopefully he stays there.

5. A big bullet

After being beat down mentally from her, I started suffering from erectile dysfunction at 22 years of age. Eventually I mustered the courage to leave her. She quickly moved on to someone else (who would later become her husband) and called me every week to basically rub it in. Saying how much better he was than me. How much bigger he was that me, etc. etc.

I moved out of state. Changed my number. Never heard from her again. She called my parents and even showed up at their home, but they told her to go away.

About 10 years later my friend ran into an old friend of hers. Apparently my ex got arrested for beating her own mother. Got out of jail, and beat her husband, then tried to take their kids from him. She was arrested again, and later released.

Guess I dodged a huge bullet there.

4. He was nuts

I was young, dumb, and thought I was in love and ignored many red flags. As he got more comfortable around me he let his crazy out. Someone stole his cell phone and he asked me to purchase a shotgun for him so he could go shoot the person who did it. It took me another year and a half to leave. I did try breaking up with him but he told me that if I ever tried to break up with him again he’d kill everyone I love and then himself so I’d know what it was like to be alone. That relationship ended in an order of protection against domestic violence. He was nuts.

3. I had to block her

we were in a long distance relationship for over 3 years and eventually it started to fizzle, she’d tell me to move to the states and drop my college degree, my family and my animals to live as an illegal immigrant and I could just do whatever odd jobs I could find just to be with her, I told her I needed to wait, she’d get very upset every time I went out with friends and would bombard my facebook wall with random crap and send me private messages with passive aggressive insults and threats of suicide.

I broke it off with her and moved on, but she kept messaging me asking to be friends, I tried but she’d randomly blow up at me insulting me for ruining her life by making her think she could be loved, I told her she did deserve love and she’d get even more upset, we couldn’t talk at all.

Last year she messaged me yet again (we broke up in 2013) telling me that I had a legal obligation to marry her since I said I would 5 years ago and therefore she expected me to just fly up there and fulfill my obligation to her. Had to block her.

Edit: Sorry I don’t think I explained myself properly, it wasn’t an exclusively online relationship, we did see each other, I would travel up there twice a year whenever I had vacations from uni and spend about 2 months with her, which were always great, she’d just get incredibly possessive and insecure when we were apart because my social life started to blossom down here and she was scared I’d meet someone else. Once I stayed for 6 months until the very last day of my visa.

2. Like a record scratch

I found out he was soliciting underage girls.

Like a record scratch, it was over.

Edit: woah, thank you all! Yes, he was arrested and went to jail.

1. I was done with him

I was dating a guy. I really liked him. He was smart, funny, and adventurous. We were getting pretty serious, he pretty much lived at my house.

One weekend I went home for my dads birthday. All of my brothers were home, I have 5 of them. We ate drank and were merry. One of my sister-in-laws took some pictures and posted them on facebook with me tagged in them.

Got back to my house Sunday evening and my boyfriend was coming over shorty to hang out/ spend the night. When he got there he was basically frothing at the mouth.

He shoved me and called me a whore. Started pushing me around ranting about how he had to see me whoring myself all over the internet and hanging on a bunch of guys.

I told him they were my brothers, but at that point I was done with him. I told him to get the fuck out of my house. He took that as an invitation to throw me up against a wall and try to force me to kiss him.

My roomie heard the commotion and came out of her room with a bat. Then shit head made the only good decision he made that day and decided to leave. Kicked in a pantry door and wrecked some drywall on his way out though.

I threw all his stuff in a dumpster. He ended up stalking me for years. Showing up drunk at places I’d moved to after we dated. Calling after I’d changed my number. Even texted me on the week of my wedding to ask me to reconsider marrying him instead. Yeah you crazy fuck I want to dump the love of my life for a crazy stalker.

Take care of yourselves, lovers!