Domestic violence, also referred to as intimate partner violence, is a pervasive issue that touches countless lives. Each minute, nearly 20 people face physical abuse by their partners in the U.S alone. More than just numbers, these are individuals who courageously choose survival, often against incredible odds.
In this article we will shed some light on the crucial steps involved in preparing to leave an abuser. We’ll delve into how to navigate the barriers that often hinder escape, and how to build a safe and secure life in the aftermath, armed with the right resources and support. Because leaving is not just about ending the abuse—it’s about starting anew, on one’s own terms.
Preparing for a Safe Transition to a New Home
Leaving an abusive relationship can be challenging. “Escaping from an abusive relationship is one of the most dangerous times for a survivor and a time when over 70% of domestic violence incidents occur,” says Ruth Darlene Patrick, Founder and Executive Director of WomenSV, a nonprofit focused on covert abuse and coercive control.
But, with careful planning and support, it’s possible to create a safer environment for yourself. Below we’ll discuss some steps to consider when preparing to leave.
Set Aside Money
Begin saving money in a separate, secure account if possible. This can help cover living expenses, transportation, and other necessities when you leave.
Prepare An Emergency Bag and What to Pack
Keep a bag with essentials like clothing, toiletries, medication, and any special items for children. Store it in a hidden but accessible location.
Come Up With a Code Word
Establish a code word with trusted friends or family members to signal when you need immediate help or assistance in leaving.
Secure Important Documents and Housing Papers
Gather important documents such as identification, birth certificates, and housing-related papers. Store them in a safe place or with a trusted person.
If Possible, Get a New Phone
If possible, get a new phone and change your phone number to prevent your abuser from tracking your location or contacting you through calls and messages. This extra layer of security will help you maintain your privacy and safety, allowing you to start rebuilding your life without the constant fear of being found or harassed.
Research in Advance and Have Law Enforcement Help
Contact domestic violence agencies or shelters to assist with planning your escape. They can help secure temporary housing and guide you through legal processes such as restraining orders.
“Leaving an abuser is very hard for a victim. Although the abuse might be unbearable, it is still familiar territory and therefore more predictable in the victim’s mind,” says Seema Kak, Executive Director of Kiran Inc, a nonprofit focused on serving and empowering South Asian victims of domestic violence. “Various agencies can help connect victims to the right resources,” Kak adds.
Plan Your Escape
Create a well-thought-out escape plan by familiarizing yourself with your abuser’s routine, identifying the best times to leave, and knowing which exit routes are safest. Additionally, have your car’s gas tank filled, your belongings pre-packed, and important documents handy so you can leave swiftly and discreetly when the opportunity arises.
Disable Location Services on All Devices
To protect your privacy and prevent your abuser from tracing your whereabouts, disable location services on all your electronic devices. This includes your smartphone, car navigation system, and any apps or gadgets that may use location tracking. Consider resetting your devices to factory settings or obtaining new devices to minimize the risk of being found.
11 Ways to Create a Safe and Secure Home As A Survivor of Domestic
Survivors of domestic violence are at different stages of their journeys toward healing and safety. Whether you’re living in a shelter or independently, it’s crucial to implement safety measures and create a supportive environment.
Here are some tips to help you feel more secure:
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