No one has the right to abuse another person, and no one deserves to be abused. Sadly, intimate relationships can sometimes lead to domestic violence, and the simplest solution is to leave once abuse occurs. In the US, statistics show that women in abusive relationships are about 500 times more at risk for domestic violence when they leave. And according to Wendy Mahoney, who is the executive director for the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence, domestic violence is all about power and control. When the abused individual leaves, the abuser has lost his power and control, and in many cases, ultimately, homicide is the ultimate absolute control.
It’s important to note that not all domestic abuse cases are the same. If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, leaving your abuser might be easier compared to leaving a physically violent abuser. If you and your children’s lives are in danger, the slightest sign of an abuser’s loss of control may pose a threat to your safety. Please be careful when making your safety plan, and consider these tips to stay safe and protect your rights while fleeing from your abuser.
Look for a Place to Stay
If you are in an abusive relationship with an intimate partner whether you’re married or not, you can do something to protect yourself and your rights. The best thing you can do for yourself and your children, if you have any, is to leave the abuser. While this is easier said than done, if you are in real danger, especially if it’s physical, you need to create a safety plan that allows you and your children to leave the abuser safely and stay safe once you’ve left.
Before you make that courageous act to leave, you must find a place to stay first. Do not stay at your partner’s house, your best friend’s house, or a mutual friend’s house. Make sure that the abuser will not be able to find you. You can go to a women’s shelter, a hotel, or a friend’s house your abuser will not be able to find.
Talk to a Lawyer about Custody and Parental Rights
Talk to a lawyer that specializes in domestic violence and custody issues. This is especially crucial if you’re moving to a new city with children. You need to protect yourself and your family, otherwise, you might be accused of kidnapping. If you leave your children with the abuser you might have difficulties in gaining custody, so if you have kids, it’s best to take them with you. Talk to a lawyer before you leave, so you know you’re not violating any laws.
You may be advised to file for a restraining order against your abuser. If your abuser violates the restraining order, you can put him in jail. But, in many cases, a restraining order is not enough to keep an abuser away from his victims. You should still be careful and be wary of your routines, your schedule, and your location to ensure your that he can’t get near you.
Prepare a Bag with Documents and Money
Prepare a bag that contains documents and money and hide it in a place your abuser you won’t find. You can also leave the bag with a trusted friend or neighbor. Documents you need to prepare are evidence of the abuse, such as pictures, threatening text or chat messages, medical records of injuries, as well as papers that include your children’s birth certificates, any financial transactions, utility bills, and other important documents you need to fight for your rights and custody of your children. You also need to start saving some money so you can pay for a place to stay, your food, and other expenses you need in your transition to a safe place.
Those who experience domestic abuse need to leave their abuser as soon as they can. Before you leave, make sure you have a safety plan in place, and reach out to people who are ready to help and protect you.