“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
- 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.