Welcome to the Leaving Relationships Section of my Leaving Abuse Series
Previous Chapter: Leaving Abuse Worksheet
Leaving Relationships When You Fear For Your Safety
Deciding to leave an abusive partner can be one of the most dangerous and frightful times of an unhealthy relationship. As the victim begins to take control of their situation, an abusive partner will feel they are losing power and most certainly will begin to fight back to regain the power and control they once had.
A partner may try to isolate the victim, minimise the abuse, blame the victim for everything and make them feel guilty and bad for wanting to leave. Such behaviour can confuse the victim and create doubts over what they can do. When one is in the cloud of abuse it is so incredibly difficult to make clear decisions.
If you or someone you know is ready to leave abuse, the best thing to do is to get support and to make a plan. Often the abuser will say your bad to tell people your business. It has nothing to do with other people. They will use emotional abuse, guilt tripping and blame to try and stop the victim getting help.
An abuser may also use violence and intimidation to frighten a partner or victim and scare them into staying. Therefore when one wishes to leave they will face tremendous fear and anxiety, confusion, doubt and a feeling of not being safe.
Here are some tips of preparing to leave abuse.
Delete your Internet History
If your reading this and there is a chance it could put you at risk, delete the history once your done.
One way to successfully leave abuse is to seek out support. This can be in the form of friends or family, telephone help lines, online groups and local abuse advocates.
I began ringing a local abuse phone line and telling them what was happening. It was anonymous and this helped me to clearly see I was being abused. I believe I rang them over and over for many months before I could clearly see what was happening to me. The woman on the end of the helpline assisted me to know my rights and gave good solid advice which really helped me in my time of need.
Although it may not seem like it, there is a lot of support out there. Information on help can be found at a local citizen’s advice, online and at the library. It may be scary and daunting but one can leave an abusive relationship with the right help.
Make a plan
Unlike many Hollywood movies, such as Enough and Sleeping with the enemy where Jennifer Lopez and Julia Roberts pack a bag and run away, the reality is you cannot just up and leave. You will have to plan safely over time. Children may be involved, you may not have any money, you will need copies of important documents and you may own property together. You may want to stay in your home or get a protection order and work out custody of children. Such things can take a time and may not be sorted in one day.
You could contact your local abuse authority and get help with a temporary protection order or women wishing to leave may need to plan in secret.
As safety plans are plans to leave abuse, they can also be triggers of further abuse and so should be planned in secret. The most important thing is to not let the abuser know of a plan to leave and to act as normal.
Things to consider and work on are not limited to but may include the following:
Saving as much money as you can without your partner noticing so that you have some money when you choose to leave. This could mean opening your own bank account or saving spare cash in the home.
Having a diary or secret lists, including phone numbers, addresses, doctors, dentist, ID numbers and bank accounts. In some relationships, it may be normal to have a diary and hence you can have the information as normal, other options might be an online account, secret email address or even a secret diary on a cell phone, I-phone etc.
It is important to have birth certificates, passports, and other important documents in one location so that it can be easily obtained in an emergency situation. Also keeping credit cards, banks cards or a wallet close at hand is a good idea.
Medication & Hygiene
Build up a small supply of hygiene supplies and medications for yourself and your children.
Get spare Keys for your home and car if necessary. An abusive partner could take your keys from you to try and keep you in the home so having a spare set without his or her knowledge is a good idea.
To do list
If it is possible to safely create a to do list, you can slowly find information and create a plan for things that will need to be done such as protection orders, changing of address, bank accounts, etc.
Collect evidence of the abuse or know where it can be obtained. Such as pictures or police reports of abuse, a record or diary of abuse and other proof such as medical reports. This can all be used to help keep you and if you have children, keep them protect them also.
Items such as family photos, a memory stick with computer documents, family photos, jewellery or other valuable items can be placed in easy to reach places if you decide to leave, even until your partner is removed from the home as they may destroy, sell or damage such items when you leave.
Sometimes is may not be possible to prepare and do all the above. For myself I had 3 hours to collect up my things and pack my car. I had to leave behind many things, my baby’s cot, furniture and some sentimental items but our safety came first and at the end of the day belongings can be replaced.
Lastly an important thing to consider is when you will actually leave your partner.
It is not good to leave a relationship in the heat of an argument but when things are calm and there is less risk of getting hurt. For myself, I left my partner when he had gone to an away rugby game and I knew I would have three hours before he returned. It is always difficult, it hurts, it is scary and you will most likely feel a lot of adrenaline, heartache and pain but planning safely and getting out safely is the most important thing.
If you can’t leave in the ideal or preferred moment then do whatever you feel is best and keep as safe as possible.