Planning to Leave an
Neither you, nor anyone else, deserves abuse. Anyone suffering from domestic abuse should learn to leave safely. Having a safety plan is critical because when you leave and just after having left an abuser is when you and your loved ones are in the most danger. You may be worried about your situation, and you may be frightened to do anything at all, but leaving is the most important step in getting out of an abusive situation. Recognizing that there is a problem and that you must leave is the key piece of creating a happy future.
Your safety plan will help you figure out how to leave an abusive situation. If you are still in an abusive situation, this safety plan will help you stay safe as you prepare to leave. The safety plan will also help you stay safe after you’ve left.
The safety plan will also help you stay safe after you've left
What is a safety plan?
A safety plan is personalized to fit your situation. It’s having a plan in place that includes ways to stay safe. And coping mechanisms for your emotions during and after the leaving process. It helps you learn how to tell your friends and family about the abuse in a calm and understanding manner. A great safety plan will give you a guide, tailored to your needs. You'll leave and stay safe as well as be stable. It will also help your friends and family members stay safe in times of need as well.
WHY IS A
A safety plan is just that, one that will keep you safe. I know that it is not easy to leave an abusive partner or family member. It can often be a frightening situation, one that you may feel like is out of your hands. The pure fact is that there is something you can do. That is why it is important to tailor your safety plan to your needs. It is better to have a safety plan in place than to have none at all, right?
Figure out how you’re planning to leave. This must include where you will go and how you will cover your tracks. Try to separate your plans into two. One plan for if you have time to prepare, and one for if you need to leave
last-minute, in a hurry.
What goes into an
Evidence To Take With You
Keep evidence of any physical abuse. Take it with you when you leave. You want the evidence in a safe place, like a locked drawer at work or with a family member. Physical evidence may include the following:
• Pictures of bruises or other injuries (dated, if possible).
• Household objects that the abuser damaged or broke during a violent episode.
• Pictures that show your home destroyed or messed up after violence happened;
• Any records you have from doctors or the police that document the abuse;
• If you have evidence of other types of abuse (threatening voicemails, text messages, emails, etc.), bring copies of those with you as well.
• Whenever you are hurt, go to a doctor or to an emergency room as soon as possible if you can. Tell them what happened. Ask them to make a record of your visit and of what happened to you. Be sure to get a copy of the record.
• A journal that you may have kept with details about the abuse, which could help prove the abuse in court.
• Anything else you think could help show that you've been abused.
• Torn or bloody clothing.
Start getting prepared
There are a few people you can start by talking to. It is best to start getting prepared so you can get the proper help when getting out. Here’s who you should talk to:
• Your doctor or nurse. If you can do so without your partner, try scheduling a checkup with your doctor or nurse. Your partner may insist on going with you. You should try your very best to write the office a personal note. You can say you would want to see the doctor or nurse alone. Or, you can tell your partner you need to speak about a gender-related health issue. You could also say, in the office in front of others, that they will only allow patients themselves in the exam room.
• Your child’s teacher, counselor, or principal. School staff are often educated on nearby shelters and safe places. They can direct you to places within your community. They are there to help and want to help the families of the students they teach.
• Human resources. Human resources at your workplace are often prepared to help employees. They can connect you to the Employee Assistant Program (EAP) and other community resources.
• Family or friends. Your family and friends who knew you before you met your abuser might be able to help. Find a few friends or family members who you can talk to. Chances are likely that they will be more than willing to help you, as a team, so you’re not alone in this. They want the best for you.
• A free 0800 telephone hotline. You can talk to trained advocates at the National Domestic Violence Helpline for free 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. You do not even need to give your name or address. The advisers will help you walk through the steps of leaving and help you with your safety plan. You can call a hotline as many times as you need to.
Put a leaving bag together, consisting of:
• Spare car keys & your driver's license;
• A list of your credit cards so that you can track any activity on them;
• Your checkbook/Money;
• Phone numbers for friends, relatives, doctors, schools, taxi services, and your local domestic violence organization and some cash to call from a payphone;
• A change of clothing for you and your children;
• Any medication that you or your children usually take;
• Copies of your children's birth certificates, Social Security cards, school records, and immunizations;
• Leave at a time your abuser will not expect. This gives you more time before your abuser realizes that you are gone.
• Copies of legal documents for you and your abuser, such as Social Security cards, passports, green cards, medical records, insurance information, birth certificates, marriage license, wills, welfare identification information and copies of any court orders.
• Copies of financial documents for you and your abuser, such as pay stubs, bank account information, a list of credit cards you hold by yourself or together with your abuser;
• Any evidence you've been collecting to show that you've been abused; and
• A few things you want to keep, like photographs, jewelry or other personal items.
• Hide an extra set of car keys in case your abuser takes your car keys to prevent you from leaving.
• Have money set aside. More likely, your abuser might be controlling money. Even if you can set aside a few dollars per week, having some saved money is important. But what is most important is that you do not tip off your abuser, which could put you in danger. Try to ask trusted friends or family members to set the money aside for you so your abuser does not find it.
• If you do not work outside the home and you’re not sure if you can support yourself, take classes or read up online. This will help you get a job either before or after you leave. You’ll eventually be financially independent if you weren’t before.
• Get a protective order. This is a crucial part of your safety plan to keep you and your children safe. Sometimes a protective order may not be enough, and you should plan for a restraining order through the courts.
• If calling the police, ask for a police escort. They will help escort you out of the house when you leave. You can also call ahead to have the police be on call as you leave. This is helpful in case anything happens as you are trying to leave. Contact your local police station to make sure they can help you do so.
• If you have pets, visit the Animals & Family Violence section on the Animal Welfare Institute website. They provide safety and planning resources for your pets if you are in the United States.
Keep your leaving bag hidden!!!
You may want to try and keep it with a trusted friend. Avoid mutual friends that your abuser may use to get to it. If you have to leave in a hurry, this is how to get out fast and safe, you also don’t need to worry about leaving anything you'll need behind.
However, making sure you’re out safe and unharmed is the most important thing.
Leaving with your children
Talk to a lawyer first, who specializes in domestic violence and custody, before you leave. You want to make sure you do not violate any court custody order or kidnapping laws in your area. This is crucial if you plan to leave the state/council area with your children. There are certain pro bono lawyers or attorneys who can help figure out your best actions. They could help you avoid violating any laws. Please know that leaving your children with an abuser can negatively affect your chances of gaining custody later on. This is why it is important to talk to an attorney first.
Make sure you do not give your abuser a trail to find you. This might include rescheduling appointments or shopping at different stores. You could also try eating at different restaurants. Be sure to also alert neighbors and request they call the police if they feel they or you may be in danger. If moving, make sure to have up to date security systems and motion sensitive lighting. If you work outside the home, talk to people at work at about the situation, and have calls screened by staff. Some final loose ends may be blocking their number. Get a new number that is not listed by your phone provider.
If you have children, be sure to tell their caregivers who can pick them up. Explain the situation to them thoroughly. Provide them with any restraining order copies.
You’re not alone in this
If you are in the beginning stages of your safety plan or are leaving, you can make it out. There are people out there such as shelters, support service providers, and legal help. They can help you out of your situation. They are all willing and able to help you along the way. Your trusted friends and family may be supportive and helpful, too.
Please also follow through with my therapy sessions. They are geared at helping people in your situation. I was once in your spot and can help you through your time of need. Please start by downloading my 32 page psychotherapy treatment workbook. It is free! I want you to be able to leave and stay away from your abusive situation. You’re well on your way to your happy future by starting now.