Every relationship, both good or bad, leaves its mark on us and influences who we become. Some relationships help us to grow, but others can be damaging. And for actress Reese Witherspoon, it was her powerful decision of escaping an abusive relationship that completely changed her life for the better.

In a recent episode of Super Soul Sunday, Oprah Winfrey asked Witherspoon, “What was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make to fulfill your destiny?” To which Witherspoon answered, “Leaving an abusive relationship.”

Witherspoon went on to explain that it was a psychological and verbally abusive relationship that happened when she was quite young. But she still remembers that moment when she knew she had to leave.

She said, “A line got drawn in the sand, and it got crossed, and my brain just switched, and I knew it was going to be very difficult, but I just couldn’t go any further.”

This difficult decision had a profound impact on her. For one thing, people said she was a different person once she left the abusive relationship. And Witherspoon believes it’s because her choice changed her on a cellular level.

Before, she had little to no self-esteem or ambition – these were two qualities that her abusive partner always tried to take from her. In leaving the relationship, she reclaimed these powerful traits and was able to live an empowered life.

Many women can probably relate to Witherspoon’s abusive relationship, and her moment of realization. Leaving these destructive relationships may be difficult, but doing so is a powerful act of self-respect and self-love, and it’s what makes it possible for an individual to carve out a better, healthier life for herself.