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How to safely leave an abusive relationship

On Behalf of | May 29, 2024 | FAMILY LAW - Domestic Violence

Domestic abuse is a pervasive issue that affects millions worldwide. In the United States, it is estimated that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 9 men experience severe intimate partner physical violence, intimate partner sexual violence or intimate partner stalking. These statistics highlight the critical need for increased awareness, resources and interventions to support victims and prevent future abuse.

Leaving an abusive relationship is a courageous decision, but prioritizing your safety should also be the top priority.

Making a safe escape plan

While leaving abruptly may seem tempting, not having a concrete plan might worsen the situation. It is always better to have a practical concrete plan covering all bases, such as:

  • Gather essentials: Pack a discreet ‘go bag’ with important documents such as birth certificates, passports, medication, change of clothes and cash. Leave it with a trusted friend or family member for easy access when the time comes that you need it.
  • Identify safe havens: Pinpoint safe places to stay, like a friend’s house, a hotel or a domestic violence shelter. Discuss potential arrival dates and times in advance so that they are prepared.
  • Secure communication: Have a hidden phone or a friend’s phone number memorized in emergencies. Download emergency hotlines and support apps on a trusted device.
  • Plan your departure: Choose a time when your abuser is less likely to be around. Consider enlisting a trusted friend to help you leave discreetly.

It may also be a good idea to read up on local laws and resources for domestic violence victims.

Taking legal action for protection

Abusive relationships can be physically, emotionally and psychologically draining. It involves a life of fear, potential isolation and a significant decrease in self-confidence. For added protection after leaving a toxic relationship, you may want to consider seeking a restraining order to legally bar your abuser from contacting you or being anywhere near you. If you fear immediate danger, you can also contact law enforcement.

Remember that you are not alone. Deciding to leave an abusive relationship is a powerful act of self-care. There are resources available to help you heal and rebuild your life. Reach out to trusted friends, family members or domestic violence hotlines for support.