How to Safely Leave an Abusive Relationship
According to The Center for Relationship Abuse Awareness, leaving is the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. Escaping an abuser is always worthwhile, but domestic abuse survivors must be careful to protect their safety while leaving.
Abusers tend to isolate their victims from friends and family. It may feel like you have nowhere to turn, but there’s nothing to lose by reaching out to loved ones. Often, friends and family recognize the signs of a toxic relationship and are just waiting for you to ask for help. Even if someone can’t give you a place to stay, they may be able to temporarily house a pet, store important documents, lend money, or assist in another way.
If you’re unable to stay with friends or family after you leave, search for domestic violence shelters or safe houses. There’s no shame in staying at a shelter during this dangerous time. A women’s shelter will provide temporary housing and resources to help you get back on your feet.
Whether you turn to loved ones or a safe house, it’s important that your abuser doesn’t know your location. Consider taking leave from work for several days following your departure.
It’s important to cover your tracks while making an escape plan, especially if your abuser has a history of monitoring your activities. Don’t change your behavior or do anything that could tip your abuser off to your plan.
Use public phones and computers over personal devices whenever possible. If unable to access public devices, try to use phones at work, borrow a friend’s phone, or purchase a secret phone or tablet. While private browsing modes prevent an abuser from checking your search history, tech-savvy abusers could have other ways of monitoring devices. You can learn more about tech safety in abusive relationships at ExpressVPN.
Don’t start packing as soon you decide to leave. Instead, make a mental list of the things you can’t live without. This should include personal documents like birth certificates and social security cards as well as medications, important keepsakes, and small valuables you can sell for quick cash. Review this list for other items you’ll need. Know you won’t be able to take everything and leave safely. Clothing, gadgets, and other items can be replaced, but you can’t. Wait until your planned escape day to collect your items and leave while your abuser is away from the house.
Once you’ve safely escaped and your abuser is off your trail, it’s time to start building your future. If you’ve been staying at a shelter or with loved ones, the first order of business is finding a new home. Unfortunately, financial abuse commonly occurs alongside domestic violence, and your financial life may be damaged. If you intend to buy a home, it’s important to get a handle on your finances.
Assessing your annual income, monthly spending, and savings balance is the first step in figuring your home-buying budget. You’ll also need to factor in loan type and APR to determine how much home you can afford. If you have a comfortable income but limited savings for a down payment, you can still buy a home. However, you’ll pay more over the life of the loan due to PMI, or private mortgage insurance. If purchasing a home would threaten your financial security, consider renting while you get your finances back on track.
Leaving an abusive relationship is one of the scariest things you’ll ever do. It’s also the best thing you can do for yourself. If you need help finding resources or just a boost of confidence during this frightening time, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
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