Making the Decision to Leave

Get Help

  • Tell a trusted friend or family member. Abuse thrives in silence and isolation. Telling someone about your situation may be difficult, but taking positive action to end the abuse is easier with support.
  • Develop a Safety Plan. Preparation includes planning where to go, what to do and being aware of your surroundings in case of a violent incident.
  • File for a Protective Order. Although the protection offered by a protective order has limits, breaking any part of this order can mean jail time for the abuser. Serious consequences for the abuser can result in greater safety for you.
  • Seek Counseling. Counseling can help you raise your sense of self-worth, empower you to make healthy choices about your life, and realize that you are not to blame for what happened.
  • Seek Shelter. If you are in fear for your physical safety, go to the home of a friend, relative, neighbor, or to a shelter for victims of intimate partner abuse.
  • Open a bank account in your own name.
  • Give an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra clothes and some money to a trusted friend or neighbor in case you have to leave quickly.
  • Think about who your best resources are if you need to find shelter or money.
  • Have change on hand to make emergency calls.

Remember that your safety and that of your children should always come first!

If you leave the relationship or are thinking of leaving, you should take important papers and documents with you to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action.

Once You Have Left: More Steps to Safety

Keeping yourself safe from your abuser is just as important after you’ve left as before. To protect yourself, you may need to relocate so your former partner can’t find you. If you have children, they may need to switch schools.

To keep your new location a secret:

  • Get an unlisted phone number.
  • Use a post office box rather than your home address.
  • Apply to your state’s address confidentiality program, a service that confidentially forwards your mail to your home.
  • Cancel your old bank accounts and credit cards, especially if you shared them with your abuser. When you open new accounts, be sure to use a different bank.

If you’re remaining in the same area, change up your routine. Take a new route to work, avoid places where your abuser might think to locate you, change any appointments your former partner knows about, and find new places to shop and run errands. You should also keep a cell phone on you at all times and be ready to call 911 if you spot your former abuser.

Other Suggestions

  • Keep your Order of Protection with you at all times.
  • Give photocopies of your Order of Protection to your children's school, your employer, your neighbors, and your local police department.
  • Change locks, if the batterer has a key.
  • Avoid staying alone.
  • Discuss safety plans with your children.
  • Inform children's school about who has permission to pick up your children.
  • Ask neighbors to call the police if they see your abuser nearby. Show your neighbors a photo of the abuser and tell them about your Order of Protection.
  • Screen your telephone calls at home and at work.
  • Have someone escort you to your car or walk with other people if possible.
  • If you have to meet or communicate with your partner, do it in a public place or have a third party make contact and relay messages. Keep in mind that with an Order of Protection in place, no communication or interaction should occur.
  • Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer.
  • Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
  • Talk with people who can provide you with support on domestic violence issues.

(Source:  A Safe Place for Help)


Additional Resources