While divorce is never simple, ending an abusive marriage can be exceptionally difficult and dangerous. The primary aim of an abuser is to maintain control over the victim and may even try to impede the divorce process to prevent you from leaving.

Nevertheless, leaving an abusive spouse is one of the most empowering decisions you can make, especially if you have children. Once you break free from your abuser through divorce, you can begin to build a life that is safe, secure, and fulfilling.

To leave your abusive marriage safely and reduce the risk of further harm, it is essential to make thorough preparations. Keep reading to discover effective strategies and solutions for safely leaving an abusive spouse.

For immediate assistance, call The Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-788-7233, text START to 88788, or reach out to Domestic Violence Intervention Services (DVIS), a 24-hour crisis helpline servicing Tulsa and Creek Counties, at (918) 743-5763 or by texting “SAFE” to 207-777 daily from 8 p.m. – 1 a.m.

Secure a Divorce Attorney to Safely Exit Your Marriage

Exiting an abusive marriage requires careful consideration, prioritizing your safety above everything else. Domestic abuse can manifest in various forms – verbal, emotional, financial, sexual, or physical – all of which should never be tolerated. It’s important to be aware that leaving an abusive spouse can potentially escalate their behavior, making the weeks and months following the departure the most dangerous period. 

When planning to leave, seeking support from a divorce lawyer experienced in domestic violence is vital. They can provide guidance on available options, offer advice on obtaining a protective order, and increase the likelihood of a favorable divorce settlement. Protective orders can offer crucial legal protection against your abusive partner. Having an attorney by your side during this process can enhance the success of your case and ensure the order’s validity.

Get a Cell Phone and Protect Your Online Presence

Many abusers limit victims’ access to others by monitoring their internet and phone usage. If possible, obtain a second cell phone and hide it where your spouse won’t discover it. Your current phone may be tracked, calls monitored, or texts read by your spouse. Consider purchasing a prepaid cell phone to avoid detection and only share the number with trusted individuals. Major carriers have low-cost phones and data plans available through their walk-in pre-paid stores, such as Metro PCS and Boost Mobile; Walmart also sells phones and prepaid plans with their StraightTalk brand in the electronics section of most Supercenters. Alternatively, use public or library computers for communication while planning your exit. 

Change your online passwords and device unlock codes. Make sure you use passwords and codes that are new, unique, known only to you, and that your abuser is unlikely to guess. Always lock your phone and devices when you put them down or walk away from them, even for just a few seconds.

Keep a Record of Abuse

Documenting abuse is essential for several reasons. Firstly, it provides a concrete account of the abuse you have endured, ensuring that your experiences are both acknowledged and validated. Secondly, it serves as a crucial tool in legal proceedings, as this evidence can be used in court to support your request for protection. It can help prove the pattern of abuse, establish the severity of the situation, and increase the chances of obtaining a protective order.

Using a secure on-line service to keep your notes, screenshots and photographs for this documentation is important. Paper notes can be found, and photos kept only on your phone could be lost. Free services such as Evernote can store this info securely in the cloud for when you need it.

Furthermore, documenting abuse can empower you when seeking support and resources. It provides clear and tangible proof to trusted individuals, such as friends, family, or professionals, allowing them to better understand the gravity of your situation and provide assistance accordingly. It also helps you to keep track of the abuse over time, enabling you to identify patterns and make informed decisions about your safety and well-being.

Find a Safe Place to Live

If you have a protective order against your partner, staying in your current home may be an option. However, many individuals find reassurance in leaving the environment altogether. Consider exploring alternatives, such as staying with a trusted friend, reaching out to supportive family members, or renting an apartment, if financially feasible. 

Contacting a local domestic violence shelter can also provide specialized resources and services for safety and support. Remember to prioritize the confidentiality of your address and whereabouts, ensuring that this sensitive information remains undisclosed to your spouse or anyone who may unintentionally share it.

Safeguard Important Documents

To smoothly transition through life situations like job hunting, renting accommodation, or navigating divorce proceedings, possessing proper identification and relevant documents becomes paramount. Take the time to carefully organize and securely store these essential items in a safety deposit box, your car’s trunk, or entrust them with a reliable friend or family member. 

When gathering important documents, include:

  1. Valid driver’s license or identification card.
  2. Original or certified copy of your birth certificate.
  3. Social security card or proof of social security number.
  4. Recent bank statements and financial records.
  5. Credit cards or other forms of payment.
  6. Copies of any legal paperwork related to divorce proceedings, including restraining orders if applicable.
  7. Health insurance cards or policy information.

In addition, securing a post office box can safeguard any additional important documents and provide an additional layer of protection by having your mail forwarded to the post office, rather than your new location.

Plan Your Escape

To ensure a successful exit from an abusive situation, start by carefully strategizing your departure. Planning your escape will greatly increase the likelihood of a safe and final getaway. 

Incorporate these three elements into a comprehensive escape plan:

  1. Secure shelter: Identify local shelters that provide assistance and domestic violence resources that offer support. Reach out to compassionate friends and family members who can offer a safe haven until your situation stabilizes, ensuring a secure place to stay.
  2. Financial support: Build up a reserve of cash or deposit funds into an account that your spouse cannot access. Seek resources that offer financial assistance to individuals leaving abusive situations. Explore options like requesting work-from-home arrangements or utilizing sick or vacation leave to ensure financial stability during this transition.
  3. Support network: Be cautious of your abuser spreading false information. Seek trustworthy and supportive individuals who believe in you and your situation. They can assist in coordinating temporary accommodations and safeguarding your important belongings while respecting your need for confidentiality and privacy.

As you plan how you will leave, start gathering essential items and store them in a secure location, ideally outside of your home. If possible, store your get-out bag at your workplace or with trusted friends or family members. Use the Safety Packing List to guide on the things you should have, including identification documents, important medications, a reliable phone, a source of funds, and basic necessities like spare clothes for you and your children. 

If you are unable to store your bag at another location, note where each item is stored to swiftly gather everything when you’re ready to leave. 

Engage Your Community

While abusers often attempt to isolate individuals from their communities, it is crucial to establish meaningful connections with key community members.

A common concern is the possibility of an abusive spouse unexpectedly showing up at one’s workplace or children’s school. Begin by reaching out to the school principal and teachers, ensuring they are well-informed about the situation and providing any necessary documentation, such as existing restraining orders. This proactive step reinforces the gravity of the situation and helps in taking necessary measures to ensure the safety and well-being of both you and your children.

Additionally, it is equally important to inform your employer or the HR department at your workplace. This ensures that they understand the potential risks involved and enables them to support you in implementing necessary precautions to maintain a secure environment.

Keeping in touch with trusted family and friends can provide comfort, understanding, and encouragement during challenging times. Remember, you are not alone, and reaching out to those who genuinely care about you can make a significant difference as you strive to safeguard yourself and your family.

If you find yourself in an abusive marriage and are seeking a way to safely leave, Eggert Law is here to support you. With our expertise in divorce and domestic violence cases, we can provide the legal guidance and advocacy you need. From filing restraining orders to protecting your rights and assets, we are dedicated to helping you secure a safe future, free from abuse and violence. Reach out today and take the first step towards starting a new life filled with safety and empowerment.

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