Domestic Violence is extremely complex and the first thing to know is that it is never your fault for being mistreated. You deserve respect, love, safety, and happiness, no matter what your abuser might say. That being said, it is also not your fault if you are not yet ready to leave your abusive partner. It is an incredibly difficult thing to do and takes a lot of planning. If you are ready to start planning to leave, hopefully, you will find some of these tips helpful in your planning. Just know that you are not alone and you are right in doing whatever you find necessary in your situation.
Protecting Yourself While Still in Your Home
While you are making your plans to leave, it is important to still be able to keep yourself and your children safe.
- Know What Triggers Your Abuser: Pay attention to what sets your abuser off. This could give you time to get out of the house before your abuser gets angry.
- Find Safe Spaces: Whether the safe spaces are in your own home or with a neighbor, friend, or family member, know where you can go to hide out for a little while.
- Know Who You Can Go To: In relation to the above point, it is important to know who you can go to for help. This can be anyone that you trust and know is able to help you.
Make an Escape Plan
- Make and Memorize a List of Contacts: If you may have to leave without many of your belongings, it is important to have phone numbers that you can call from a public phone or a borrowed phone. Include all of your trusted friends, neighbors, and family members that you know you can go to.
- Gather Important Documents: Gather any documents you will need to start your life over again and keep them in a safe place. You should include your birth certificate, social security card, driver’s license or ID, and some money. If you have children and will bring them with you, you should gather these same documents for your children.
- Pack a “Go Bag”: If it is possible to pack a bag and keep it hidden, do so. Pack some emergency cash and the documents mentioned above, as well as the important phone numbers you have gathered and a few changes of clothes. Do not feel bad if you cannot pack a bag like this. It is not possible for everyone, especially if they are leaving abruptly or in an emergency.
Once You Have Left
- Find a Place You Can Stay: Whether that place is with someone you know, love, and trust or at a Domestic Violence or Homeless Shelter, find a place that you will be safe from your abuser. They will often try to find you after you have left.
- Change Your Passwords: If your abuser has any access to your accounts, change your passwords. You don’t want them to have access to your social media, bank accounts, etc.
- Get a New Phone (Or Change Your Number): This is mostly for your own sense of safety. This way your abuser will not be able to contact you. Keep your new phone number to yourself, except when absolutely necessary.
Call an Attorney
Why would you call an attorney? They can offer a variety of services to you to help you in the case of domestic violence. Here at Divorce Matters, we help domestic violence victims obtain civil protection orders (which people know more commonly as “Restraining Orders”), as well as get divorce proceedings started. Both of these services offer protection to a victim of domestic violence by making their abuse known to the legal system. You can learn more about how an attorney can help a victim of domestic violence by watching Ashlee Shaw Gonzales’ Ask an Attorney video. Please know that if you would like to reach out to Divorce Matters, we are more than happy to make our communications to you discreet. Just let us know about your situation and how you would like to communicate with us to keep you safe.
Domestic Violence Shelters in the Area
Not everyone has family or friends in the area who is able to help them escape a domestic violence situation. It is often an abuser’s goal to cut their victim off from their family and friends. If this is you, know that you still have options to help you get back on your feet. Domestic Violence Shelters are a great option and often offer services to help victims get jobs, new clothes, health services, babysitting, and legal help. Some in the Denver area are listed here:
SafeHouse Denver Domestic Violence Services