Getting Ready to Leave…
If you are ready to leave an abusive relationship, the following tips may help keep you as safe as possible when preparing to leave. Following a safety plan cannot guarantee your safety, but it may help make you safer. Create a safety plan that is right for your situation. Do what you believe is best to keep you and your children safe. Remember that this is one of the most dangerous times for an abused person.
- Plan how you will leave, where you will go and how to “cover your tracks.” Make an alternative plan should you have to leave in a hurry,
- If possible, bring evidence of the physical abuse with you. Keep it where your abuser cannot find it, in a locked drawer or with a friend. If your abuser finds out, you could be in more danger. You may have pictures of your injuries, pictures of damages to your things, records from your doctor or the police that document the abuse, or a journal.
- Pack a bag with spare car keys, driver’s license, list of credit cards for tracking purposes, checkbook and cash. You will need a change of clothes for you and your children, medication, birth certificates, social security cards, school records and immunizations.
If possible, bring medical records, insurance documents, legal documents and a copy of any protective order or custody order. You may want to bring a few keepsakes.
- Try to hide the bag with a trusted friend, not a next-door neighbor, close family member or mutual friend as the abuser may find it there. Do not worry if you have to leave immediately. Your safety is more important.
- Try to set money aside. If your abuser controls the money, you may only be able to save a few dollars each week. The important thing is not to tip of your abuser and put you in further danger. Keep it with a trusted friend.
- Try to get job skills if you are not employed.
- Get a protective order and call law enforcement to escort you out of your home when you leave. Remember that even with a protective order, you should still take other safety planning steps to keep yourself and your children safe.
- If you take your children when you leave, talk to a lawyer who specializes in domestic violence and custody issues beforehand to make sure you are not violating any court custody order you may have. If you leave your children with the abuser, it may negatively affect your chances of getting custody later on. You should try to speak with a lawyer before doing this.
- If you are fleeing to a safe confidential location and you fear your abuser may look for you, try creating a false trail AFTER you leave. You could call motels, real estate agencies, schools, etc. somewhere at least six hours from where you will be. Ask them questions that will require them to call you back, giving them your old phone number (where you lived with your abuser, not the number where you will be).
For additional information or if you should need someone to talk to, please contact the LaSalle Parish Victim Advocate at 318-992-2067.