The 5 Step Exit – How to leave your sociopathic partner

Five Step ExitBook Review: The Five Step Exit The skills you need to leave a narcissist, psychopath or other toxic partner and recover your happiness now, by Amber Ault, Ph.D.

It’s the New Year. Did you make a New Year’s resolution to really, finally, emphatically, get out of your toxic relationship, once and for all?

If your answer is yes, or even if you’re still just thinking about putting an end to the madness, you need this book:

The Five Step Exit

The skills you need to leave a narcissist, psychopath or other toxic partner and recover your happiness now, by Amber Ault, Ph.D.

In this slim, wonderful book, Dr. Ault promises to take you, step by step, through the process of disengaging from an abusive partner and she delivers. This is the most clear, concise and helpful “how to” for breaking away from a toxic person that I have ever read.

The Five Step Exit is a collection of advice, strategies and exercises that will enable you to take your life where you want it to go.

So what are the five steps?

  1. Contemplation If you are uncertain about leaving, the exercises in this section will clarify your thinking.
  1. Preparation —Set priorities, seek assistance and anticipate blowback, so that you can make an effective action plan.
  1. Execution Skillful goodbye strategies, tailored to the type of toxic person that you are dealing with.
  1. Improvisation How to handle unpleasant, and perhaps even dangerous, reactions from your ex-partner.
  1. Recovery A multitude of suggestions for rebuilding your life through “exquisite self-care,” many of which are free.

Solid explanations and advice

From the explanations and advice in this book, it is evident that Dr. Ault knows exactly what she is talking about. In the section on “Preparation,” for example, she writes:

Toxic relationships have common dynamics but a wide range of circumstances. In extreme situations, people face physical violence or restrictions on their freedom to leave their homes or contact friends, family, and police. Exiting other situations may involve financial risk, downward mobility, threats of retaliation, and drama that will drag on for awhile. Sometimes, when we’re fortunate, ending a toxic relationship simply does come down to telling the other person that things are over. If you don’t live together, don’t have financial involvements or kids, and the person will be offended enough by your rejection that they won’t contact you again, consider yourself fortunate. Ultimately, only you know the details and dynamics of your particular situation, so you are in the best position to determine what kind of exit plan to make and how to set it in motion when the time comes.

Throughout the book, Dr. Ault asks questions to help you crystalize how you can move forward. For example:

What are your priorities? What is at risk? What are you willing to sacrifice? What needs to be protected?

Your ex may try to re-engage with you. What are the goals of your toxic ex in these efforts?

What if you get Hoovered, and you fall hook, line and sinker for one of your ex’s ploys to suck you in?

Dr. Ault helps you think through all of these situations, and more, so that you are as prepared as you can be for anything that may happen.


Getting out of the relationship is half of the battle. The other half is to “re-ground yourself in your own life, desires and wellbeing.”

The Recovery section of Dr. Ault’s book is full of healing suggestions to help you create life after the sociopath. She recognizes that some involvements with sociopaths of leave us in financial ruin, so many of her suggestions are free all they require are your time and attention. These include going outside, journaling and freedom rituals.

Some suggestions are surprising, like social dancing including ballroom, tango and country. Social dance “lets us make gentle physical and social contact with others in pleasant, affirming environments,” Dr. Ault says. “And it’s a lot of fun.”

Excellent guide

All in all, The Five Step Exit is chock-full of sound advice and solid strategies for getting out of the craziness and moving forward to the sane, peaceful and happy life that you truly deserve.

If you want to leave the sociopath, this slender book tells you exactly how to do it. Highly recommended.

The Five Step Exit is available on Amazon.com.



Comment on this article

66 Comments on "The 5 Step Exit – How to leave your sociopathic partner"

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Wow – I really need this. This involvement is so confusing.

Hi Icantbelieveit,

Please get this book if you are still with your abuser. Have it sent to a trusted friend or family members home for your safety.

One of the first things a sociopath does is isolates the victim. Most victims break relationships with their family & friends because of the sociopaths so reconnect with them now for support and share what is really going on in your relationship.

Contact your countries National & Local abuse center asap for free counseling & free women group meeting. This will open your eyes to the abuse you are enduring by this guy. In the USA 800-799-SAFE is the national domestic violence hotline (see their website also).

Did you know that the bulk of domestic abuse is emotional, mental & verbal abuse?

Manipulation, lying, omission etc = ARE ABUSE!!


Do a search on Lovefraud & on the net for the following:

Gas lighting abuse

no contact rule

low contact rule (if you have kids with this abuser)

sociopath triangulation

sociopath smear campaign

PLEASE KNOW YOU ARE NOT ALONE ANYMORE…WE HEAR YOU!! KEEP REACHING OUT FOR HELP…and come here to ask questions, vent & to educate yourself as to what is really going on in your relationship.

Take care.

ps watch Donna Anderson’s videos up at the top also.

Remember to clear your computer history each time you search a topic so that you are safe!!

The most dangerous time for a vicim of abuse is when she is planning to leave or has left her abuser. SO PLEASE contact your local abuse (& National) for an EXIT PLAN & SAFETY PLAN out of your relationship.


Domestic Abuse Exit Plan (then with the words you tube)

Domestic Abuse Safety plan (then again with the words you tube)

Dr Phil domestic abuse exit plan you tube

forgot to let you know that Donna Anderson site creator of Lovefraud also has a consultation program via phone for a small fee to talk with her about your relationship (see the contact tab up at the top for more info)

Icantbelieveit, (just moving your post back up to the top so you can read my response).

This has been helpful.

Dr. Ault says from a social psychological perspective, its hard to leave a relationship where you have given a lot.

This is very true.

I got the book. She says to shift your mood interact with babies, children, pets or plants. I find this helps.

Surely there was a misunderstanding. It would not be appropriate to use a baby or children. The thought of such a recommendation horrifies me.

Tony Robbins has a youtube video that shows how to change our state (mood) by tapping into our own memories and our own experiences of love and gratitude. I am not recommending Mr Robbins, only saying that we can find inspiration and help from many sources. And that this particular one of his is very helpful for me.

NotWhatHeSaidOfMe Dr. Ault says first to be kind to yourself using possible steps such as identifying the thought that is beneath the mood. She then says secondly there are many active practices to shift mood such as interacting with babies, children, pets or plants. I’m sure she meant to interact with babies in a way that would not in any way be harmful to them. A friend has an Anne Geddes calendar which she finds very uplifting. I’m sure there are many ways to shift mood and what one does is, of course, up to the individual.

Thanks for the clarification. As a child of a pedo, the idea of using kids for personal took my thoughts only in one way. You are so correct, the images of wee darlings always brings a smile. I enjoy watching them skate at the rink in our local mall. They are having the fun that I didn’t but… it makes me happy to see them happy. It’s anonymous and like you say, not harmful to them. My friends snapshots of their grandkids being funny or adorable or enjoying family time also makes me happy. In fact, just thinking about kids and these good times makes me feel joyful.

NotWhat I probably should have been more clear when I posted. Yes, seeing children skating is very pleasant and joyful.

Interacting with children and plants in right ways (not exploitative nor perverse) often involves caretaking and giving, which is usually healing and psychologically uplifting. For example, reading a story to children, taking grandchildren to the park, tending a garden, etc. When I was depressed or sad, I always found babysitting young children took my mind off my own troubles. They are innocent and full of joy, and eager to relate in their own way.

Sad that exploiters and perverts spoil the concept of right and balanced relationships.

I also find plants uplifting, especially tropical spiders which put out new plants.

I need all the help I can get. I’m emotionally, mentally, physically, and financially handcuffed.
I’m isolated with no friends for support.
I can’t break free.. even though he lives 500 miles away.
Thank you for sharing and being here. Any and ALL suggestions are helpful.
I have 3 children and am a little concerned at my 17 year old son lacking empathy, lack of compassion, belittling, and being disrespectful. My son is kind, sweet, and smart. I cannot decipher if he is just “being a teen” or possibly becoming a narcissist or sociopath. I’m worried.

The book should help.

Dr. Ault says animals can also lift mood. I was at the dog park enjoying the running dogs.

I also find music can lift your mood, especially the flute for me.

Animals can lift our mood. I just heard animal communicator Amelia Kincade on Coast to Coast radio. Interesting stuff.

Music can be uplifting. I really like Cheryl Lynn ‘It’s Going to Be Right’.

Dr. Ault says money can be a factor in leaving. For financial reasons, I must stay in contact with a narcissist for 2 more weeks, then I will leave.

As Dr. Ault says, music can be uplifting. Tomorrow there will be a Sunday afternoon concert in the Hooker Telescope Dome on Mount Wilson above Pasadena, CA.

I’ve made some changes and no longer have to have contact with the recent psychopath. I am very relieved.

Unfortunately, I still do need to have contact with the psychopath but I will distance myself as much as I can.

Music can be uplifting. The Ojai Youth Opera presents the children’s opera Brundibar in Ojai, CA today.

Dance can be uplifting. The Scottish Ballet will perform in Los Angeles tonight.

This book has been very helpful.

Memories of psychopath SW with whom I’ve had no contact for 18 months came back recently. This shall pass.

The arts can be uplifting. The Famous Players Orchestra will perform for 4 silent films tonight in Burbank, CA.

Music can be uplifting. There will be Magical Music at the Old Mill in San Marino, CA tonight.

Music can be uplifting. The Song of the Angels Flute Choir will be performing in Glendale, CA tonight.

Art can be uplifting. The Macy’s fireworks are on TV tonight.

Nature can be uplifting. Dignity Health has a great utube ad showing a beautiful lake titled ‘ take 2 minutes’. You might check it out.

Animals can be uplifting. Friends are going to a nearby zoo,

Art can be uplifting. The Laguna Beach, CA art festival is great.

Music can be uplifting. The Hollywood Bowl has wonderful concerts. Some are on utube.

Dance can be uplifting. The American Contemporary Ballet is premiereing 2 new ballets at a highrise in Los Angeles, CA.

Speaking of ballet, you’re darn right, love! Dance can be VERY uplifting… indeed, downright exhilarating! Even if you have to do it all “backwards, in high heels,” the way Ginger Rogers did. Just check out this image here, for instance:


As an afterthought—as metaphorical as it is!—I’m sure every woman appreciates a man who would “lift her UP,” and NEVER “put her down”!

Redwald Thanks for the good link.

Redwald Thanks again for the great link on dance.

Again, dance can be uplifting. The West Hollywood Dance Festival is a week long festival including free community workshops and public performances.

You are so right, Sunnygal, about the uplifting effects of dancing. Two years post-sociopath, I took up salsa dancing, and it changed my life. Between salsa and Zumba, I lost 20 lbs and got a whole new outlook (though salsa is not without its drama, for those who remember my salsa years, but that it a different story….) It is nearly impossible to be dancing and not to be smiling. Dance helps so much with mood and endorphin levels.

The other thing that drastically changed my life after the sociopath was traveling out of the country. If you can afford to travel to some place in the US, then you can easily afford to travel to a place like Costa Rica. It’s so much cheaper to travel there than in the US, and plane fares are often not any more than traveling to another state. Something to consider. A lot of people feel they are too depressed to travel or to plan any adventure. But consider this: Even if you are depressed while traveling, traveling will make you a more interesting person. You will have interesting things to talk about when you get home. You will find other travelers and be able to talk about common experiences. You may even feel inspired to learn another language. This will raise your energy level and help with your healing, even without any effort on your part. I have now made four trips to Costa Rica including the original one, and it has added a whole new dimension to my life. I have begun writing about my adventures and retained some of my travel friends as Facebook friends. It has (literally) opened up a whole new world.

If you are not the type to travel to a foreign country where they speak a different language, consider taking road trips to small out-of-the-way towns you’ve never been to. Sit in diners and talk to the locals. A few years back, I read a historical novel called Empire of the Summer Moon. It is a true story about the role of the Comanches in the early history of this country, and the kidnapping of the white girl Cynthia Ann Parker at 8 years old. She was raised by Comanches and became part of their tribe. She went on to marry a Comanche and give birth to three children by him before she was “rescued” against her will by her white family, where she died shortly after. It’s a fascinating story – bear with me; there’s a reason I’m telling you this! Two of Cynthia Ann’s children died, but the third went on to become one of the last great Comanche warriors – Quanah Parker. Quanah eventually surrendered to the white man and spent his last years in a self-built home called Star House. Speaking both Comanche and English, he entertained such dignitaries as President Roosevelt in his Star house and brokered many deals for his people with the white man. On my last road trip, I made a small jaunt out of the way and visited the Star House. It was incredible to see this page out of history. I blogged about the road trip in its entirety, with the visit to Quanah Parker’s last home in the tiny town of Cache, OK being one of the highlights of the trip. This is a great example of a fun road trip that is life-enriching. Find a reason to travel to a small town and take in the local culture. It will get you outside of yourself and make you a more interesting person.

But don’t neglect taking quiet time for your own healing. Sometimes when you are out there living life and at least trying to have fun, waves of grief and memories come up. Take the time to fully feel those feelings and process them. Then go back to your life in progress. You will find that over the years, the healing process becomes part of who you are. You will find that as you heal yourself, you are naturally compassionate and wise with others. Your wisdom and insight, along with your ongoing life experiences, will help you to create a new story for your life – one that is not about being a victim but about being a strong and creative person. And this will, in turn, help others.

Don’t wait until you feel better to make a change in your life. Do it now, and watch how it changes your outlook. Don’t wait for the right feeling, attitude, therapist, or partner to come along. Just do it.

Sending a big hug to all.


Music can be uplifting. I listen to classical music station KUSC.

I still do this.

Interior design can be uplifting. The FrenchByDesign blog facebook page has some beautiful interior design,

Music can be uplifting. There will be an evening of Contemporary Jazz and Classical Music at Au Lac Restaurant in L.A.tonight.

Love music. the song of the angels flute orchestra will give their holiday concert in LaCanada, CA tonight.

Music can be uplifting. Violinist Sarah Chang and pianist Julio Elizalde will be performing in Beverly Hills tonight.

Music uplifts. There will be chamber music of Lalo Schifrin who wrote the Mission Impossible theme in Pasadena, CA tonight.

Music is uplifting. the Los Angeles philharmonic is performing at disney hall tonight.

music is uplifting. cellist ashley bathgate will perform in ojai, CA TOnight. ojai is always charming.

Music can be uplifting. Norwegian violinist Vilde Frang will be appearing with the L.A. Philharmonic tonight.

Excellent good by Dr. Ault.

Music is great, especially pandora classical piano music.

Music can be uplifting. I especially like violinist Hillary Hahn.

Humor can be uplifting. Here is some French humor- Macron, macaron, macaroon, macaroni, Marconi, Mickey Rooney.

This book has been helpful.

well written by dr. ault.

This is a great read.

An excellent helpful book.

Excellent book by Dr. Ault.

I like exquisit self-care.

She talks about self care.

I like exquisite self care.

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