Leaving Safely – Part 1

safety plan

Leaving Safely – Part 1

“The only way we are ever leaving each other is when we both die in our 80s.”

On an episode of Dr. Phil this afternoon called “A Violent Love Intervention,” we hear that that frightening threat from a man named Danny to his girlfriend Julie. Julie has come forward to speak about the physical and emotional abuse she’s been enduring for two-and-a-half years.

There are many reasons victims stay with their abusers, and countless obstacles to leaving — it’s often the most dangerous time in the relationship.

When we talk about leaving an abusive partner, it’s important to realize that this is a personal choice. Only you can know if it’s the right decision for you at the time. If it is something that you’re thinking about doing, there are steps you can take to prepare and ensure your safety.

Remember that preparation is key.

Set aside money, even in small amounts adding up over time, and hide it somewhere safe or have a family member or friend hold onto it for you.

If it’s safe, consider starting your own savings or checking account, and use a family or friend’s address to open it.

Get as much information as you can before you leave — call us and we can connect you to your local domestic violence programs to see what they offer (in terms of legal advice, counseling, etc.) Learn about your different options.

Know your abuser’s schedule and plan out a safe time to leave when they won’t be around. Don’t feel that you have to tell them that you’re leaving or feel that they should be there when you make your exit. They may try to make you stay if they get the chance.

Know where you’re headed, such as a local shelter or family member or friend’s house. Have all the contact numbers for these places.

If you’re planning a quick getaway, back your car into the driveway, and make sure to keep it fueled. Consider having a spare set of keys for the car.

Have a packed bag ready to go. Keep it hidden somewhere, such as in a trunk of your car, or even at work or a family or friend’s house. Bring:

  • Birth and marriage certificates
  • ID and social security cards
  • Keys
  • School and medical records (for yourself and children)
  • Passports, green cards, work permits
  • Protective orders, divorce papers, custody orders
  • Bank papers and credit cards
  • Important pictures or keepsakes
  • Any documentation of the abuse (journals, photos)
  • A list of important phone numbers
  • Clothing for yourself and your children
  • Titles, deeds and other property information

If you have children, inform the school about what is going on.

As seen in today’s Dr. Phil episode, leaving is a scary time. If you’re planning on leaving, ease some of your fears by making a plan and preparing for when the time comes. You can always plan your exit strategy with an advocate by calling us at 1−800−799−SAFE(7233).

What did you think of today’s episode? If you’re a survivor and successfully left your abuser, what tips do you have for leaving safely?

For Part 2 of this article, click here.

Comment section

16 replies
  1. I would like to share my experience, I born in Mexico City, my father was a very violent man, he used to hit my mother and us all the time, most my mother. She lived in hell for 21 years, and I always wondered why she never left him, even when he used to point a gun on her face so many times. I had a very sad childhood, I tried to committed suicide twice, because I though that was my fault, I have two children and a very lovely husband, I didn’t follow my mother’s steps, but I can’t have a normal life because of that, I have to take antidepressants and have nightmares remembering all that. I share my experience because I would like the women who live that have to take courage and leave that life, more if you have children, you are going to ruin their life forever, this isn’t love, is hell. I know so many women who live violence but they don’t do anything, is a big circle and is very hard to go out, but you can, after 21 years my mom decided to left my dad, because my 5 brothers were just like him. So she took the courage and divorce him, know she is very happy, and he is alone, so please, look for help, never is late. I still learning English so sorry if I made mistakes, I hope you get the point. Thanks!!

  2. Having left after 20 years of physical and emotional abuse, and now being stuck in the court system for 14 months over custody and fighting to keep restraining orders in tact-I really understand all scenarios chosen…why a woman stays, why she leaves and goes underground, how a woman could be pushed to kill him, why a woman would file charges and fight. Once you are in a relationship like this there is NO simple or easy answer. No matter what you do it will be a struggle but the absolute most important thing is you take care of yourself to the best of your ability and do whatever you need to do to protect your children.
    Celebrate what you do have and what wasn’t taken from you, get support from people who’ve been there and be gentle on what you expect from yourself….being in an abusive relationship is traumatizing.

  3. For five years I lived in fear of my abuser, a man who kept highly volatile explosives in our bedroom closet and would threaten to blow me and my children up if I tried to leave. The constant verbal abuse day after day after day wore me down to a point that I became numb. When I finally gained the courage to file charges on him his mother and sister became stalkers, they followed me continuously and I had to have trespassing orders set against them so I could leave my best friends apartment and find safety. The sheriffs department in Rankin, Texas and the Sheriff refused to honor a state issued protective order issued against my husband, and the trespassing orders issued to his mother and sister when they broke into the residence issued to me in our temporary divorce orders. To date, my husband has gotten away with numerous violations of the protective order and I live in constant fear of him and what he may do. I had to pack up and leave my home to a safe house an hour away. The sheriff told me if I called the Upton County Sheriffs department for anything else I would be arrested. I am now working towards helping other battered women and children, I am going forth to ensure that this happens to no other family in need of protection. We need to have laws that help enforce protective orders and make sure that violations are are enforced.

  4. I am currently in a bad situation that I know I need out of but the task is so daunting and I am afraid for so many reasons. I have been dealing with this for nearly 4 years. I have tried to leave before, but I came back. It turns out I am more motivated by guilt than self-preservation. While he doesn’t get as physically violent as he once was, he is far more emotionally and mentally abusive. I have been made to lose contact with family and friends and I am constantly accused of cheating and lying despite the fact that I am extremely alienated. He moved us to a new city after pretending to try and move us closer to my family who are several hours away. He has family and friends here so I also feel like they gang up on me. I was convinced by him to be with him, to stay with him, and promised a beautiful life. We have a daughter and I have two other children from a previous marriage. He picks on me about the way I raise the children, blames me for the desinigration of my first marriage and criticizes me constantly for various other things. I have been bled dry of all the confidence and life that I once had. He ruined my credit and now I second guess everything I do. He made me drop out of college because he wanted me to go to school online since I was not trustworthy. He makes me ask him for money and makes me feel guilty for that, too. I have no clue how I let my life get this out of control. To be honest, I used to think it was ridiculous for women to stay in abusive relationships and now I am doing just that. Even though I know I should leave, I don’t because I feel useless, helpless, and incapable. I need help. I need advice. I need strength and encouragement.

  5. Anita,

    Thank you for sharing your story and the wonderful outcome with your mother. Like you mentioned it was hard however both of you were able to overcome the abuse and now are living abuse free lives. Sometimes victims do not leave their relationship because it might not be the safest thing to do. It is important to remember that every victim knows their situation better than anybody and at times stays because at the time it might be the safest option. Thank you once again sharing your story and hope.

  6. Brenda,

    It is wonderful to know that you have been able to leave safely. You are absolutely correct about how difficult it is for a victim to leave a domestic violence relationship. You are such a strong woman and survivor to still be standing and for not giving up. It is important that during the custody process that you take care of yourself, whether it is counseling, walking outside once a day, or something that you enjoy and have time to do. If you ever need any resources or would like to talk about the domestic violence please do not hesitate to call The Hotline. The Hotline is available 24 hours a day and be reached at 1-800-799-7233.

  7. Julianne,

    Thank you for sharing your story with everyone. Five years is a very long time to be abused and you have plenty of strength within you that has helped you move forward. You deserve to be happy and live in peace with your children. Sometimes protective orders do not get enforced but the good thing is that you were able to get out safely. You have such a caring big heart in wanting to help others around you and that is wonderful.

  8. Ashely,
    You are not useless,helpless, or incapable. You are the complete opposite: strong, courageous, and very capable. It takes plenty of courage to ask for help and it takes strength to share your story. From what you have written it sounds like your partner is very controlling and monitors everything that you do. You have a right to do the things that you want without feeling guilty. You deserve to do the things you want whether it is attending school on campus or raising your children a certain way. You also deserve to be happy, feel loved, and live in a safe enviroment. You are more than welcomed to call The Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to ask for help,safety plan, or talk. There are always advocates available to speak and will be more than willing to help you.

  9. I have always felt guilty of doing certain things or even trying to do things differently in regards to raising my son or cooking or doing a fun activity, if I do the same its because I want to please him or make him feel like i am doing what he wants me to do. I am not sure if this makes sense but i feel like i need to move on with my life and go forward and not look in the past. I have been verbally abused and that to me is worst than physically but both have happened. I am scared to leave and I am terrified to even do it. I want to make sure that I can leave without him finding people to hunt me down or kidnapping my son. He has always threatned me and told me not leave because I will never find anyone that love me that way he loves me. He collects guns and thinks the world is going to end and is constantly asking where am I going and putting tracking devices on my car to find me. I dont do anything because I see my son and think to myself maybe I have to stay and sacrifice myself for my sonand my happiness because I see how happy he is and stay. But I dont want my son to see what happens now that he is getting older. He has threatned me and says if I leave he will take my son and I will never see him again. I feel helpless and afraid that I will not be alive a few months later after I leave. He tells me that a womans job is to cook and clean only. I dont know how to leave and I feel guilty if I go eat dinner at my moms or Chilis down the street. He hates my family and tells me I dont need friends and I only need him. Most of my friends stopped speaking with me because he has text them awful things and they get into arguments. I wanted to leave and he was diagnosed with depresseion he said if I left he would commit sucicide and it would be my fault. I am hurt inside and feel like I am never good enough. I am lost and confused and not sure how to start but I plan to leave soon with my four year old. I pray all goes well when the day comes and he doesnt shoot me with the many guns that he has at the house.

  10. P.S
    It sounds like you are going through so much; I’m glad you came to our community and shared what you’re going through. Leaving is never easy, and the things an abuser can do, threatens to do, or does to prevent us from leaving or scares us into staying can be terrifying. If you ever want to speak to a Hotline Advocate to brain storm possible solutions, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. We are 24/7 and are completely confidential and anonymous. It sounds like this person is or has been using technology to control you and keep tabs on you; our number is toll-free so consider calling us from a pay phone, a friend’s phone. or a phone that he doesn’t have access to for your safety.


  11. I know exactly how you feel. I am almost in the exact same situation except I have 6 kids. And its sooooo hard to leave when you don’t have money or support. The state that I live in is poor. And even though I do work its just hard to provide. I’m physically, emotionally, financially, and spiritually abused. I’m so ashamed of my self because now I’m on antidepressants and I have a new born by the abuser. Just pray for us please.

  12. spent 6 years being verbally and mentally abused by my boyfriend….today it became physical abuse when the threw me down by my hair and hit me so hard that I have a hand print on my butt….and he is still here calling me a bitch…a whore…telling me its my fault….sad part is I am a good mom…great job…great friends….not bad looking…yet I let him control and abuse me…please help

  13. Lexibeth This certainly sounds like an extremely difficult situation. If you would please call us at 1-800-799-7233, we are available to discuss your concerns and offer some possible strategies as well as help to form part of your support network. We are here 24/7 to support you and find you additional resources. No one deserves to be treated this way and it certainly is not your fault.

  14. I’m in a physcial and mentally abusive relationship. This was never my husband. Mr. Nice guy is now on Meth(ice). He also forces me to have oral sex well any type of sex with him. He is also extremely addicted to porn. No matter how much sex we have it’s never enough. I catch him watching porn well finding it in search engine on phone all the time home work anywhere any
    time. I am shattered into a million pieces. I have pressed charges and talked briefly with an advocate. I asked for rent asst. I have gotten the run around every since. The first she seemed knowledgeable and willing to help but quickly lost interest in me. I think I’m doing the right thing by relying on her. Wrong! I am being evicted in three days. I got a job can pay rent just not this current month. It would be so much easier to just go back to him. Everything paid! So frustrated! We have two young children 13 year old his four year old ours. One 19 year daughter in college mine. The system doesn’t always work! If your willing to go to shelter or become homeless then help is there. If I can stay where I’m at and he is gone why should I displace my children and myself. I’m being told in order to receive victims comp I have to relocate. Why am I still a victim here? Doesn’t make since at all! I currently have bruises from the beating I took two weeks ago. Doesn’t two police reports and five calls for domestic to my house warrant anything. I guess when I die my kids will hopefully be assisted!
    Probably going back

  15. Hello Heather,

    Thank you for sharing your experiences with our online community. We’re so glad that you know our community is here to provide support and encouragement. It sounds like you’ve had a very difficult and frustrating time establishing a safe life away from your abuser. We understand how hard it can be when the resources you need don’t seem to be there, and how much energy it takes to keep looking and asking for help. It sounds like you’ve tried so many programs and agencies, and are still looking for the help you need to keep yourself and your kids safe.

    It’s not right that you’re having to fight so hard to stay safe; it’s your right to be safe and no one should ever take that away from you. If you’d like to talk to one of our advocates, you can reach us by phone 24/7 at 1-800-799-7233 or online chat 9am-7pm CST. All of our conversations are confidential and anonymous. We can talk about what’s going on and see if there are other programs or resources that we can connect you to. We know how much strength and courage it’s taken for you to come this far, and we are here for you.

    Take care,

    Hotline Advocate AS

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