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Getting Away, Starting Over: Advice for Domestic Abuse Survivors

Posted by helpinghandsagainstdv. on May 26, 2021 at 6:30 PM

Leaving an abusive relationship can be an agonizing decision. Women may stay for years despite repeated incidents of domestic violence or many reasons, from a lack of resources to the fear of the unknown and the uncertainty of starting over. But when the situation spirals into uncontrolled violence, getting away quickly and safely becomes a matter of life and death.

Realizing it’s time to leave once and for all is an important milestone, but you need a plan for making a safe exit, for beginning a new life in a new home, and staying safe from a vengeful and violent ex-partner. There are a number of factors to consider when making arrangements because walking out and moving in with a friend or family member won’t protect your anonymity or guarantee your safety. Remember that you can’t change or control a violent situation, and it’s not your fault. You have to protect yourself. This important information from Helping Hands Resource Center will help you stay safe.

Where to Go and When

Not knowing where to go when it’s time to escape means you’re not ready. Make arrangements to stay with friends or family, preferably someone your former partner doesn’t know. If moving in isn’t an option, identify the nearest domestic violence shelter, especially if there’s a strong likelihood that an emergency escape will be necessary, and keep a bag of essentials packed and concealed. Set up a bank account in your name alone so you have an emergency fund in place.

If you have children, talk to them about how you’ll get away together. Make a plan, be certain they understand it thoroughly, and settle on a code word or signal that tells them it’s time to go. If you’re unable to park your car on the street, try to back it into the driveway so you can get away as quickly as possible.

Moving On

Gather your financial information and documents and take them when you leave. These should include bank information, car titles, and copies of loan documents with payment information. You’ll need them when you’re ready to start looking for a new home. You should also be familiar with your credit status and debt situation. Talk to a credit counselor to determine whether your former relationship has negatively impacted your credit score.

Also, research the best prices and neighborhoods in your area to find a house that fits your budget. You can pull up an online map like this one, which will show you all of the properties available in the area and their proximity to public transportation and local schools, which is helpful if you want to keep your kids where they currently are. As you look for homes, bear in mind that anonymity is key to your safety.

Be sure your ex can’t trace your internet searches or access messages from a realtor. If necessary, use a computer at the local library or at work to research homes and for exchanging emails with a real estate agent. And exercise caution when pricing moving companies, since they’ll have two addresses/locations where you could be found.

Never list your new address or phone number. Instead, use a post office box and give your phone number out only to your closest acquaintances, people you know you can trust with the information. Domestic violence survivors often find it necessary to take out a restraining order,only to find out it’s no guarantee of safety. Always have a fall-back plan in place in case your ex does find you. Make sure your cell phone stays charged and is always with you, and identify an escape route you can use if you get trapped.

Escaping an abusive relationship requires planning and careful attention to detail. Once you’re free from your abuser, the best way to ensure your safety is to maintain your anonymity, keeping in mind how easy it can be for someone to locate you. Confide only in those people whom you know are trustworthy and careful.

Image courtesy of pexel

Blog written by: Nora Hood


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Categories: Domestic Violence Awareness

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