fbpx How Can I Move On From My Abusive Ex and Not Be Scared Anymore?
Authored by Dr. Michelle Murray on October 26, 2021

Dear Dr. Michelle:

I just left my boyfriend after 5 years because he was being physically abusive. I have a restraining order in place, but I am scared because I know we still live in the same city and I fear I might run into him or he may still try to hurt me. I find myself just wanting to stay in my apartment and hardly go anywhere. How can I move on and not be so scared?


Dear Lilly:

I commend you for getting out of the unhealthy relationship; it takes courage and commitment to weather through the challenges that can follow when ending an abusive situation. Taking the necessary steps to get a restraining order only further indicates that you have the insight and resolve to face the reality of your situation so that you can further protect yourself.

I would counsel you to start by visiting the National Domestic Violence website and see what you can learn about your situation. Even though you are out of the relationship, reading about the dynamics around abuse and safety planning tips could strengthen your resolve, help you recognize that you are not alone, and direct you to resources in your community that can further offer support. I would also recommend putting the 1-800 799-7233 domestic abuse hotline in your phone contacts. This is free hotline that can support you during times of high anxiety or help you address a situation if you do run into your ex-boyfriend.

You have already taken the legal steps necessary to support your safety, now focus on the steps you can take to put protection in your own hands. The following considerations are meant to enhance your protection and prepare you to be ready for quick action in case you are unexpectedly confronted.

Creating a Safety Plan

  1. If your ex-boyfriend makes any type of contact with you that is inappropriate or violates the restraining order, report it immediately. If there is a pattern of him violating the law, legal intervention can be increased. But this will only happen if it is reported.
  2. If your ex-boyfriend has a key to where you live, change the locks, and get a new key system. Ensure that all your windows and doors are lockable and get into the practice of keeping all access points locked. You could also consider a security system.
  3. Always keep your car locked when you are not in it or if you are sitting idly in your car.
  4. Carry your cell phone wherever you go. When walking from place to place, keep it in your hand ready to dial 911 if necessary.
  5. Identify a willing friend you can text when you go out - letting that friend know when you have arrived at your destination. When you are afraid to go out, knowing that others know where you are and that they can find you if you run into trouble will help you feel and be safer.
  6. Until you feel the threat of your ex-boyfriend has subsided, consider participating in activities outside of your home where you will be surrounded by a lot of people; there can be safety and comfort in numbers.
  7. If your situation allows, consider getting a dog and have the dog trained to protect you on command. Do research on the best breeds for such situations; you want a dog that is highly personable and safe among the general population but can be trained to act quickly in an emergency.
  8. Take a self-defense course. Self-defense will effectively teach you how to physically get away from someone in an emergency and can greatly increase your sense of personal security and confidence.
  9. Consider carrying mace. Be sure you train yourself on how to effectively use it. Buy an extra bottle to practice on an inanimate object and only outdoors You can find training guides online or check with your local police departments to see if they are able to show you how to hold it and operate it safely to that you don’t hurt yourself or others unintended.

Creating a plan around the steps above can provide you more safety and help you remain in control of your own protection. As you grow more confident in your safety and in your ex-boyfriend’s distance, then you can determine which techniques are necessary to keep in practice and which are not.

In closing, I would like to encourage you to avoid isolating yourself. You have already taken several brave steps, and right now more than ever, you want to surround yourself with friends and people that can be trusted to support you. Spend as much time as possible with other people and make sure you are consistently going to work and attending to your job duties. Be sure to find a hobby or an extracurricular activity that brings you peace and joy. Such experiences will continue to build your self-confidence, and high levels of confidence will make you stronger.

If you are in crisis, contact The National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit www.TheHotline.org.

Dr. Michelle K. Murray, CEO of Nexus Family Healing and licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, answers questions about family relations or mental health. Submit Your Question.

Dear Dr. Michelle blog posts are informational in nature.  The posts are not meant to take the place of consulting your physician, mental health professional, or other qualified health providers regarding your well-being or the well-being of others. Submitting a question does not establish a client/therapist relationship.

Submit Your Question on mental health and/or family relations to Dr. Michelle K. Murray.

Dr. Michelle Murray