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Domestic Violence

Domestic Violence: Safety Planning When Filing for Divorce

I’m getting ready to leave and maybe even divorce my abuser… now what?

The average domestic violence victim tries to leave seven times before she actually does. I say “she” because most reported cases are male on female. However, domestic violence occurs in all relationships with all sorts of partners: male, female, transsexual, heterosexual, and homosexual. For today’s purposes, we’re going to say “she.”

Why does it take so many tries to leave? Lots of reasons. Loss of support, fear of her batterer, concern for her children, her culture, a disability, belief in excuses and promises of change, or simply because she has no other option. If you’re reading this and you feel locked into a situation because you are afraid of what will happen when you try to get out, this article might help.

Protecting Yourself in Abusive Situations

The most important thing is your safety. Let me say that again. The most important thing is your safety!

You can’t protect your children if you don’t protect yourself. While you are still in the relationship, you need to do a few basic things:

  • Plan on avoiding rooms with no exits or weapons while arguing. This means staying out of kitchens and bathrooms while arguing.
  • Memorize important phone numbers in case he takes your phone and you have to go to a neighbor’s to try and hide.
  • Keep a charged cell phone handy, whether in your car or in an inconspicuous yet hidden place. All cell phones will call 911 whether or not they have service.
  • Always have at least 1/2 a tank of gas in your car in case you need to get out of town.
  • If it won’t be noticed, have a change of clothes and extra medicine in the car as well.
  • Make sure you have a backup plan for your pets, as they likely can’t come with you.
  • Try to think of four places you could go if you had to leave, people who will help lend you money, and people who might care for your children.
  • Have a code word in case a relative calls during a fight and you want them to call the police. Mine was “purple.”

Maintaining Your Safety After You Leave

If you’ve already left and are still scared for your safety:

  • Change your phone number and locks.
  • Try to have a friend you can check in with every couple of hours. Make sure he/she knows the code word.
  • Document all times he tries to contact you in case you need a restraining order (and think it would do any good).
  • If you already have a restraining order, make several copies of it in case the police can’t find it and something happens. Keep a copy in your car, desk at work, on your fridge, and give one to your children’s teachers.
  • Change your shopping patterns and your restaurant eating habits (is it fair that you can’t go to the same places when he is the one with the problem? No. But your safety is more important).

Be aware that when you leave, you are in the most danger, so be aware of your surroundings. Keep your eyes open. Protect yourself. If you need help getting a restraining order or a divorce, call one of our experienced divorce lawyers at Modern Family Law. We’ll help or point you towards resources that can help.

Posted January 03, 2015
by: MFL Team

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