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In the United States, nearly 20 people are abused by an intimate partner every minute. That staggering number is even worse when you consider all the cases of domestic violence and abuse that go unreported.
When you are in a situation where violence or abuse is a reality, it can be difficult–to say the least–to think about leaving. You may have children to care for, or you may be worried that your partner will harm you or themselves. There are financial considerations as well, especially if you are married and share bank accounts with your partner. However, there is always a way out. Remember that your life, self-esteem, and mental health are all worth it.
There are several things you can do to prepare when you feel ready to leave your situation, and ways you can help yourself stay safe. It’s imperative to have a good plan so that you can reduce worry and anxiety; keep reading for some tips on how to leave safely and start moving forward.
If possible, don’t set the date that you’ll leave too far into the future. If you give yourself too much time to think and prepare, you will also be giving yourself a lot of time to reconsider leaving. Plan for two or three days out if you can. Look for local shelters, or talk to friends and family who can help you find a place to stay until you can secure a home or apartment of your own. If you have children, talk to them about your plan, and make sure they know it’s a secret. Pack bags and keep them in the trunk of your car in case you need to leave quickly.
Remove your tracks
In some situations, the abuser will look through phone or computer records to check up on their partner. It’s important to be very careful about leaving traces after you’ve made plans, whether it was to call a realtor or to look up average prices of apartments in your area. Delete your browser history on all devices, and don’t give your phone number out to anyone outside your close circle of support.
Rent a post office box
It might be a good idea to rent a post office box no matter where you move so that your mail can’t be tracked to you. If you decide to move to an apartment complex, talk with the manager to let him know how much you value your privacy and to make sure they don’t give out any of your information to strangers, no matter how persuasive they may be.
Look for a place that’s not isolated
When looking for a new home, keep in mind that you don’t want something that’s isolated. Houses should be in neighborhoods or communities where you’ll have people living around you; apartments should be on the second floor or above and should have at least two neighbors. Get to know the people living around you, and learn their movements so you can feel comfortable; for instance, if one neighbor works third shift and will be opening and closing doors late at night, that will be valuable information for you to have in order to prevent anxiety. Install extra deadbolts, a peephole, and an alarm system as well so that you will always be aware of what’s going on.
Hire the right movers
It’s important to hire the right helpers when it’s time to make a move. Informing them about your situation isn’t necessary, although you can let them know what your needs are without going into details. In some cases, there may be a moving company near you that specializes in helping survivors of domestic abuse get away safely; look online for more information.
It’s important to keep your safety–and the safety of your children or anyone else who will be leaving along with you–a priority. Don’t take any chances; if you fear that your partner will react violently when you leave, try to have a friend with you, and remove anything that might be used as a weapon from the area beforehand. With a good plan, you can get away safely and start moving forward.
About the Author
Nora Hood is a freelance writer and creator of ThreeDaily.org. She considers domestic violence to be a form of domestic terrorism. She became a passionate advocate for ending domestic violence when she began volunteering at a women’s shelter while in college. She has continued her volunteer work over the years and recently started ThreeDaily.org to raise awareness about the issue while also creating a nationwide activist network of individuals who want to bring an end to domestic violence. The site fosters a community for those seeking information about, writing about, and speaking out about domestic violence.
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