Hidden Hurt Domestic Abuse Information

Thinking about Leaving an abusive relationship?

You often start thinking about leaving an abusive relationship once you have realised that the home situation is simply untenable. In some situations, eg where you still live apart and don't have joint children, this may not seem too physically impossible, despite the emotional hurdles to be faced. But where your life is very much intertwined (joint house/mortgage, joint bank accounts and debts, joint children, etc) even thinking about leaving can be daunting.

Even if you feel that at this stage the abuse is still managable, it is still a good idea to start thinking about leaving and be prepared in case the situation suddenly escalates. The following suggestions are from survivors of abusive relationships who have left their abuser and now live safely.

Getting Prepared Emotionally

  1. Visualize yourself having left, going through everything, where would you stay, how would you feel, what would you do next, etc. If you start thinking through the process and about your reactions, it will be easier to deal with the reality of leaving.
  2. Decide if and when you've had enough. You have to be sure that what you're doing is the right thing for you and your children at the time. It's a big change.
  3. Keeping a diary or journal (hidden privately) can help. Many victims write journal notes or diaries as a way to sort out their feelings and the situation. It helps to have these notes to read through and reflect. If you keep a diary, be sure it is in a well-hidden place and cannot be found, especially if it mentions that you are thinking about leaving.
  4. This list on thinking about leaving was compiled with help from regular visitors to the Rhiannon3 / Hidden Hurt message forum. Special thanks to AJ, Kiara, Lynn, Nuance, Sunny and Vela for the well thought-out posts that contributed.
  5. Realise staying is not a long term solution to protect yourself, your safety or your children's safety. The classic pattern of abuse escalates over time. Think about what you want in your life and how you want your children to grow up. Ask yourself if the relationship or family situation is getting better or is it progressively getting worse.
  6. Realise that there will still be problems to overcome if you leave and an abusive partner may still try to control you through emotional, financial or other means. Those who leave abusive relationships still face challenges; their lives improve greatly by leaving but they know there are challenges ahead and make a decision to face them. Many choose counseling or support groups to help themselves meet this challenge.

Safety Planning

While thinking about leaving an abusive relationship, safety planning is the highest priority - more women and children are seriously assaulted or even killed when they try to leave or shortly after. The key to safety planning is taking a problem, considering the full range of available options, evaluating the risks and benefits of different options, and identifying ways to reduce the risks. If you are able to contact a local Womens' Aid or Refuge, they have qualified staff to help you with your safety planning.

Here are some tips from our forum members who have already escaped:

  1. Gather together any documents you may need. Store them in a safe place such a bank safe deposit box, with a trusted relative or friend. Ensuring the documents are available if you must leave in a hurry due to danger, or are actually planning to leave, is important. Documents will help you in getting assistance, filing other paperwork and protecting your interests. These documents include:
    • Social security cards/numbers for yourself and any children
    • Birth certificates for yourself and any children
    • Medical records and vaccination/immunization records for the children
    • Marriage certificate
    • Insurance cards or policy numbers
    • Bank account numbers (checking, saving, credit cards too) and a copy of any recent statements showing balances
    • List of everything of any value at all in the house that may later be needed for divorce court or distribution of property
    • Keys - house, car, office, post office box, safety deposit box
    • Drivers license, car registration and title
    • Medications and prescriptions
    • Passport, green card, work permit and any other immigration documents
    • Children's favorite toys, security blankets
    • Start putting back a little money here and there, just enough that isn't going to be missed. Be prepared as much as you can be financially.
    • Mortgage payment book, copies of current unpaid bills
    • Pictures, jewelry, items of sentimental value
    • Pictures of injuries you may have gotten from your partner's abuse
    • Any evidence that might help police in investigating your case, for example, threatening letters or phone message tapes
  2. Is there anyone you can ask to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from your house or apartment?
  3. If you need to get out of your house or apartment in a hurry, what door, window, elevator or stairwell will you be able to use in order to get out safely?
  4. Where can you keep your purse, car keys and some change to make a phone call so that you can grab them quickly?
  5. Is there a code word you can use with friends, family and/or your children to alert them to call for help? Do your children know how to use the phone to contact police?
  6. If an argument occurs, how can you get to a room where there are fewer things that can be used as weapons? Avoid getting trapped in the kitchen, bathroom, basement or garage.

Seeking Help

  1. Counseling or a Support Group - When you leave an abusive relationship, you need support to help sort through the emotions, feelings of lost hopes, and rebuild your self esteem and personal strength. Counseling and support groups help many victims tremendously through this difficult time. So while thinking about leaving, also think about what counselling or support group might be suitable for you and possibly your children,
  2. Let police help you - What the police can do for you depends in part on what you tell them or give them. Be as open as you can, help the police by telling them all you can. Any statement you give to the police is very important. Read your statement carefully and if there is anything that is incorrect, ask the officers to change the written statement so that it matches what actually happened. Sign it only when it says what you want it to say.
  3. Get a Protective order or Restraining order - if you are afraid of your partner or that you will be pursued, or if violence has been shown previously; get a protective order. Many people think protective orders don't work, but it is actually your first line of legal defense. Follow up, if the order is violated in any way, file charges. (see the sidebar giving details about the NCDV who can help you to safely escape and help you through the legal processes of gaining protective orders and going through court)
  4. Seek help and support from local domestic violence organisations and shelters - Programmes offer safe shelter for victims and their children, resources and contacts to legal help, court advocates to assist you in court, and counseling or support group services. As soon as you are thinking of leaving, look in your local phone book for these groups, call your local social services, or state or regional domestic violence coalitions for help and advice.
  5. Legal help - Investigate your legal rights and position. You should feel comfortable when you talk to your lawyer and be sure that she/he understands your situation and knows how to help. If you do not have confidence in the first lawyer you speak with, you should seek another one. Your local social services or domestic violence organizations can usually refer you to a lawyer. Seeking legal help is particularly important to protect your safety, child custody and financial issues. Know your rights.
  6. Family and Friends - The first place an abusive partner will look for you when you leave is with family or friends. Choose very carefully about where you will stay. If you fear the partner will become violent, then chose a shelter of Refuge to protect everyone's safety. Ask your family and friends for emotional support. Survivors of domestic violence and abuse need emotional support. Be careful to ask those closest to you, who you feel the abusive partner could never persuade. A survivor of domestic abuse cannot afford contact with anyone who may side or feel sympathetic with their former partner.

This list of considerations when thinking about leaving was developed by experienced domestic violence survivors - women who have already been through the challenge of leaving an abusive partner and made it.

Return from Thinking about Leaving to the Abuse Victim

In This Section:

Related Pages:

Are you a Domestic Violence Victim?
Are You a Domestic Violence survivor?
Leaving and your Safety

Recommended Reading:

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft

Living with the Dominator: A Book About the Freedom Programme by Pat Craven

Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand and Deal with People Who Try to Control You by Patricia Evans

If you are thinking about leaving an abusive relationship:

Do not Suffer Domestic Violence in Silence - NCDV Can Help

Since it was set up in 2002, the NCDV (National Centre for Domestic Violence) has been helping victims obtain emergency injunctions - such as an occupation order or a non-molestation order - regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or financial situation. We aim to provide instant, effective protection against domestic violence and give advice to anyone who seeks it.

We offer:

- A One Stop Shop
- Immediate advice
- A 24-hour telephone helpline
- Specialists in Non-Molestation, Occupation and Prohibitive Steps Orders
- Direct links to other support agencies
- Police & agency training
- We have obtained more than 10,000 injunctions
- "McKenzie Friend" training schemes in universities across the country, allowing law students to attend court with victims of domestic violence who cannot access public funding

We offer our services completely free. We never have and never will charge for our services.

NCDV is an independent, self-funding organisation that works with police forces, Refuge, Women's Aid, Victim Support and Citizens' Advice Bureaux across England.

We provide a free, fast service to those who have experienced domestic violence. We specialise in offering legal support, making it possible to seek legal advice as well as court assistance. In practice, this usually means helping individuals to apply for an injunction at their local county court. To do this we use firms of local solicitors and trained volunteers who act as "McKenzie Friends". This means we can offer an emergency service to victims of domestic violence whatever their financial circumstances, including those who do not qualify for legal aid.

If you need any further information about NCDV, or to learn more about applying for a Non-Molestation Order or other forms of injunction, contact us on 0844 8044 999, or visit our website www.ncdv.org.uk

Click on the donate botton below to support Hidden Hurt. Thanks you.

UK National Domestic Violence Freephone number 0808 2000 247


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