Leaving the relationship can be extremely difficult. You may have the fear of what the abuser may do to you if you attempt to leave, the fear of not having the financial resources to get yourself and/or your children to a safe place, etc. In addition to safety plans, it is good to keep the following in mind:
When preparing to leave:*
- Keep evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures of injuries. Keep backup copies, as well. For example, scan your photos and store the backups on a flash drive. Keep your backup in a safe place.
- Keep a journal of all violent incidences, noting dates, events and threats made, if possible. Keep your journal in a safe and discreet place. You could also email accounts of violent incidences to a private email that is unknown to your abuser.
- Know the shelters and safe havens in your area. You may want to consult with one prior to leaving. It will not hurt to arm yourself with knowledge.
- Learn the laws and other resources available to you before you have to use them during a crisis.
- If you are injured, go to a doctor or an emergency room and report what happened to you. Ask your doctors/nurses to document your visit.
- Contact your local shelter and find out about laws and other resources available to you before you have to use them during a crisis.
- If possible, acquire job skills or take courses at a community college.
- Try to set money aside or ask friends or family members to hold money for you in the event of an emergency.
When you leave, bring the following with you:*
- Identification documents for you and your children, such as a driver’s license, birth certificates, social security cards, etc.
- Medications, prescriptions, insurance cards, valuables or sentimental items, address books, several changes of clothes for you and your children.
- If possible, a “burner phone,” and emergency money.
- Financial information you have such as credit cards in your name, bank accounts, check books, etc.
- Copies of your medical records and your children’s medical records and school records.
- Legal documents such as leases, rental agreements, deeds to your home, work permits/visas, passport, Green Card, etc.
- If you have a protective order or restraining order, ensure you have copies or know where to obtain additional copies. You will want to provide that information to your employer and/or your children’s school. Always keep a copy with you.
- Have emergency contacts and phone numbers, including friends and family, local shelters, police department, doctor’s office, and hospitals.
After you leave
Once you leave the abusive situation, continued safety is necessary. Consider the following:*
- Change your locks if you obtain an order requiring the abuser to vacate your residence. Change your phone number and request an unlisted number if possible.
- Change your routine. Don’t take the same routes to work or school(s). Use different stores and frequent different social locations.
- Consider changing your children’s schools, and if not possible, be sure to alert the school to the situation and give them any legal papers, such as custody arrangements and protective orders.
- Call law enforcement to enforce the order and give copies of the restraining order to employers, neighbors and schools along with a picture of the offender.
- Consider renting a post office box or using the address of a friend for your mail (be aware that addresses are on restraining orders and police reports, and be careful to whom you give your new address and phone number).
- Reschedule appointments that the abuser may know about.
- Replace wooden doors with steel or metal doors. Install security systems if possible or get a large dog.
- Install a motion sensitive lighting system.
- Tell people you work with about the situation and have your calls screened by one receptionist if possible.
- Tell people who take care of your children or drive them/pick them up from school and activities.
- Continue to stay vigilant and always be aware of your surroundings.
*Some of this information is adapted from: Copyright © 1998 by the National Center for Victims of Crime. This information may be freely distributed, provided that it is distributed free of charge, in its entirety and includes this copyright notice.