How to get out of an abusive relationship and start afresh

How to get out of an abusive relationship and start afresh

In This Article

Every human deserves a life coated with respect, love, and trust.

Relationships are based on compromising and giving your partner a personal space because everyone has a right to live without fear. Unfortunately, the majority of the relationships today are revolving around abuse. If you’ve found yourself stuck in an abusive relationship, then it’s time to leave because abuse must not be tolerated.

When love and care in a relation turn to pain and suffering, then it becomes important to know how to get out of an abusive relationship safely.

Why is it so hard to leave?

A lot of women are told to compromise and bear the abuse of their partner. This social stigma misleads them to have the useless hope that one day their partner will change. Women mostly feel responsible for their partner’s behavior.

One might find it hard to get out of an abusive relationship when you live together because you share life with your partner. All such fears instilled in the minds of a person will keep them bound to cope with the abuse.

If you are tied in the chains of such fears, then it is important to break free. Your children need to be protected from such an abusive family; hence you must take every step possible. Given below are tips on how to get out of an abusive relationship.

How to get out of an abusive relationship?

Getting out of a relationship is hard. But living in pain and abuse is even harder. This is why you must always be ready to leave your partner.

1. Making the decision

The first step is to recognize abuse.

You may be suffering from mental, physical, emotional, sexual or financial abuse in your relationship. This is when you must take the decision to leave your partner without letting him have any clue. Your partner might beg and promise you to become a better person. But most of the times, they quickly return to their abusive behavior once you’ve forgiven them. So, stick to your decision.

2. Important documents

Once you’ve decided on how to get out of an abusive relationship, you must take all the steps necessary. Gather pictures, audio or video recordings as concrete evidence of physical abuse.

Keep a hidden journal of all violent incidents noting the date and place.

Visit your doctor in case of any severe injuries because medical documentation will prove to be further evidence. These proofs will come in hand against the abuser in court, winning custody of your children and providing residence and protection after you get rid of your partner.

3. Have an escape plan

Always keep a backup plan in case you need to leave in life-threatening situations.

Practice your escape plan, so you know exactly what to do. Keep an escape bag having all essentials including emergency cash, clothing, toiletries, keys, ID card, security card, etc. Also, memorize the phone numbers of trusted contacts so that you can inform them of the situation immediately.

Hide this bag at a friend’s house or in such a place where your partner cannot find it.

4. Being financially independent

Since you’re bound to leave your partner at any time, make sure to gather cash side by side. Acquire job skills or take courses so that you may have a source of income in case you leave.

If the abuser controls your finances, try saving whatever amount you can and stash it in your escape bag. Being financially independent will make life easier for you.

5. Safeguard your privacy

It is highly probable that your abuser suspects you to leave anytime.

This is why he will take all measures possible to keep an eye on your activities. To keep your conversations private, purchase another cell phone and keep it hidden at all times. Change your passwords and always clear web history.

Check your smartphone settings because your partner might have set up apps to read your messages or record your calls. Never let anyone invade into your personal space.

6. Alert close friends and family

Inform your family members and trusted friends who provide you constant support against the abusive behavior of your partner.

Share every incidence with them so that they can be witnesses for the abuse you face. Moreover, they can provide you shelter and financial support. It will make you realize that you will always have someone who cares for you.

7. Proper counseling

Being in an abusive relationship can leave you feeling emotionally drained. This is why you must undergo proper counseling to learn how to get out of an emotionally abusive relationship.

Your therapist will assist you in fighting anxiety and depression. Counseling will provide necessary guidance for acquiring separation. Contact domestic violence helplines to learn about how to get out of an abusive relationship.

8. Protection after you’ve left

Keeping yourself safe from the abuser is as important after you’ve left as before.

Keep the abuser away from you, block them on social media, change your housing address and switch schools of your children. It is advisable to get a restraining order. Life may be hard in the start, but learn to move on. The first taste of the air of freedom will satisfy you thoroughly. Live your life beautifully because you deserve it.

How to get someone out of an abusive relationship?

It might not always be you who is suffering in a relationship.

We all know friends, colleagues or family members who are a victim of abuse. This is why it is important to know how to help someone get out of an abusive relationship. Convince them that they deserve to live a life of respect and care.

Give them financial and emotional support, so that they can trust you in an emergency. Such people tend to become more sensitive, so don’t force them to share details. Give them their space, but counsel them to leave such abusive relationships.

When a destructive, verbally abusive relationship ends, it’s normal to feel a host of conflicting and unresolved emotions.

Verbally abusive relationships can destroy your heart and soul and make you feel like a completely changed person. The recovery process takes time, support from others, patience and self-love — but you can get through it and emerge stronger, happier and healthier than you were before.

Cut All Ties with Your Ex

People who have ended abusive relationships often feel the need to contact their former partners. On some level, you know that you shouldn’t have any contact, yet you might feel compelled to show your ex that you’re better off — or you may feel the need to offer forgiveness. Yet it’s vital to cut off all contact.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, it’s very hard to experience closure until you’ve severed all ties with your ex. Delete phone numbers so that you won’t feel the urge to make a phone call or send a text in the heat of an emotional moment. Delete your ex as a contact on social media sites. Distract yourself whenever you feel the need to contact your ex. Go for a walk, exercise, watch TV, call a friend or get out of the house until the feeling passes.

Process Your Emotions

Healing from an abusive relationship is an emotionally challenging process. When you first leave a verbally abusive relationship, you might feel utterly alone and as though you have no one to turn to. You may feel a decreased sense of self-esteem and self-worth, depression, anger, frustration or isolation — and you might miss your ex.

Although you may experience a host of painful, upsetting emotions, don’t suppress them. According to domestic violence expert Patricia Evans in her book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, recovery from verbal abuse offers the chance for you to accept and recognize your emotions as valid. Write in a journal, cry, scream, beat the couch with a pillow, join a kick-boxing class or find another activity that will allow you to physically and mentally process your feelings.

Find Social Support

Verbally abusive spouses and partners often socially isolate their significant others. You may have been cut off from your friends, family and other forms of previous social support. Even though you’ve taken the steps toward a better life on your own, it’s a lot easier to move on when you’ve surrounded yourself with an encouraging and loving support network. And an understanding friend can keep you on track when you feel like contacting your ex, says the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Reconnect with loved ones and seek opportunities to meet new people by reaching out and developing your personal interests. Take a cooking course, join a group fitness class, knock on your neighbor’s door and say hi. Join a domestic violence survivors group to connect with and obtain support from people who’ve been in your shoes.

Seek Counseling

Individual counseling can be a beneficial source of support throughout the recovery process. Trained counselors who specialize in domestic violence can lay out a framework of recovery and help you identify the skills and strengths you already have to begin moving forward in your new life, says licensed social worker Karen Koenig in an article for “Social Work Today” (see reference below). Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline to talk confidentially to an advocate and to obtain more information about counselors in your area.

Last Updated: November 3, 2020 References Approved

This article was co-authored by Moshe Ratson, MFT, PCC. Moshe Ratson is the Executive Director of spiral2grow Marriage & Family Therapy, a coaching and therapy clinic in New York City. Moshe is an International Coach Federation accredited Professional Certified Coach (PCC). He received his MS in Marriage and Family Therapy from Iona College. Moshe is a clinical member of the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT), and a member of the International Coach Federation (ICF).

There are 29 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.

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Abuse can take a variety of forms, but both mental and physical abuse need to be addressed swiftly and safely. If you’re in an abusive relationship, you need to take immediate action to preserve your own well-being and find the road to your recovery. Plan a proper end to your abusive relationship, keep yourself safe, and move on.

How to get out of an abusive relationship and start afresh

How to get out of an abusive relationship and start afresh

How to get out of an abusive relationship and start afresh

Moshe Ratson, MFT, PCC
Marriage & Family Therapist Expert Interview. 7 August 2019. Someone acting aggressive, violent, or manipulative towards you is never your fault. Know that your relationship can still be abusive, even if:

  • Your partner has never hit you. Emotional or verbal abuse is still abuse. [7] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources. Go to source
  • The abuse doesn’t seem as bad as other instances of abuse you’ve heard about. [8] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources. Go to source
  • Physical violence has only happened once or twice. Any physical violence is a sign that more is possible. [9] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources. Go to source
  • Signs of abuse stopped when you became passive, stopped arguing, or refrained from expressing your own thoughts or opinions. [10] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources. Go to source

How to get out of an abusive relationship and start afresh

Moshe Ratson, MFT, PCC
Marriage & Family Therapist Expert Interview. 7 August 2019. If you eventually face your abuser in court, hard evidence can help you get a restraining order, win a custody battle, or otherwise ensure that this sort of abuse will never happen again.

  • If you can, try to record some audio of your abuser intimidating or threatening you. This can do a lot in helping to establish the character of your abuser, who will likely be on best behavior in court.
  • Take photographs of physical abuse. Always immediately report physical abuse to the authorities and seek immediate medical attention. The medical records and police report will provide thorough documentation of the abuse.

How to get out of an abusive relationship and start afresh

Moshe Ratson, MFT, PCC
Marriage & Family Therapist Expert Interview. 7 August 2019. [13] X Trustworthy Source HelpGuide Nonprofit organization dedicated to providing free, evidence-based mental health and wellness resources. Go to source

  • The thought and behavior patterns that lead the abuser to commit abuse are caused by deep-seated emotional and psychological problems, not your actions. Unfortunately, without professional help, these issues are unlikely to resolve themselves.

How to get out of an abusive relationship and start afresh

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When you meet someone to whom you are romantically attracted, most people don’t ever think for a minute that the relationship will turn abusive. Most of us hope to live a fairy tale love story and ride off into the sunset deeply in love.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen for a lot of people. Many find themselves in an abusive relationship.

If you’ve never been in one, you might wonder why someone would ever tolerate that negative behavior toward themselves. Well, it’s not as simple as it sounds. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to say, “why don’t they get out?” But from the inside, it’s a much different experience for most people who are abused.

How Does it Start?

Believe it or not, most abusive relationships start out just like any other. The abuser is typically very charming and charismatic. The abusee falls for the “act” they are putting on and, as a result, probably falls in love with them.

But that’s not the REAL person. The real person, deep down, is abusive.

It happens slowly. To explain better let me use a metaphor.

Let’s say you like to eat frog legs (I know most people don’t, but remember, this is just an analogy). So, one day you catch a frog yourself and intend to cook it by boiling it in hot water.

If you drop the frog into boiling water, it will be shocked and try to get out. Because of the suddenness of the change, they notice it immediately.

But, if you put the frog in room temperature water first, and then slowly, very slowly, turn up the heat toward boiling, then the frog won’t really notice until it is too late. It happens almost without the frog knowing it.

You see, that’s what happens in abusive relationships most of the time. The abuse starts slowly, and then apologies come. And then forgiveness. Then more abuse, and more, and more, until it finally escalates into full-blown abuse.

That’s why it’s sometimes difficult for someone to recognize when they are in an abusive relationship. Continue on the next page to read all…

More Articles

  1. How to Get Over an Abusive Relationship
  2. How to Overcome Loneliness After the Death of a Spouse
  3. How to Build Self-Esteem After a Verbally Abusive Relationship
  4. How Can I Help My Husband Stop Gambling?
  5. 5 Ways Everyone Can Benefit from Seeing a Therapist

Mental abuse is a type of domestic violence 1. Being involved in a mentally abusive and controlling relationship can wreak havoc on many different parts of your life, including your self-esteem, relationships, career and overall psychological well-being. Give yourself credit for getting out of the relationship. Healing from a controlling, mentally abusive relationship takes time, effort, support and patience. If you’re thinking about ending an abusive relationship, but you’re not sure where to turn, you can get free, anonymous support and advice from the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1.

Give yourself time to heal. Recovering from an abusive relationship doesn’t happen instantly. After you end the relationship, you’ll need time to put your life back together. You may have many things to think about, such as housing, employment, child care or other financial issues.

How to Get Over an Abusive Relationship

Seek support from trusted friends, relatives or a licensed counselor. Your self-esteem and overall confidence level may be severely damaged by the abuse you endured. According to Help Guide, it’s not uncommon to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. Reaching out for help can be difficult, but you’ll gain relief, validation and support by talking about your experience. You can also start work on rebuilding your self-esteem with proper counseling. Ask your primary care physician or a local mental health agency for a referral to a therapist specializing in domestic violence issues 1.

Develop a creative outlet. Expressing your feelings in a journal or through an art form such as music, painting or poetry can be cathartic. Doing so can help you get in touch with the hurt. It’s important to release these feelings to heal.

How to Overcome Loneliness After the Death of a Spouse

Resume a regular schedule when you feel ready. After ending a mentally abusive relationship, you feel like there’s no ground under your feet. Keeping a consistent daily routine will help you to re-establish a sense of normality. Don’t overeat or oversleep. Avoid escaping into an addiction such as alcohol or drug abuse.

Consider joining a support group for survivors of abuse. According to psychologist Richard Ray Gayton in his book “The Forgiving Place: Choosing Peace After Violent Trauma,” support groups offer a safe place for you to discuss your feelings with others who have been through a similar experience 2. Hearing the stories of others who have been abused can make you feel less alone, and receiving empathy and validation will help you during the recovery process.

When a destructive, verbally abusive relationship ends, it’s normal to feel a host of conflicting and unresolved emotions.

Verbally abusive relationships can destroy your heart and soul and make you feel like a completely changed person. The recovery process takes time, support from others, patience and self-love — but you can get through it and emerge stronger, happier and healthier than you were before.

Cut All Ties with Your Ex

People who have ended abusive relationships often feel the need to contact their former partners. On some level, you know that you shouldn’t have any contact, yet you might feel compelled to show your ex that you’re better off — or you may feel the need to offer forgiveness. Yet it’s vital to cut off all contact.

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, it’s very hard to experience closure until you’ve severed all ties with your ex. Delete phone numbers so that you won’t feel the urge to make a phone call or send a text in the heat of an emotional moment. Delete your ex as a contact on social media sites. Distract yourself whenever you feel the need to contact your ex. Go for a walk, exercise, watch TV, call a friend or get out of the house until the feeling passes.

Process Your Emotions

Healing from an abusive relationship is an emotionally challenging process. When you first leave a verbally abusive relationship, you might feel utterly alone and as though you have no one to turn to. You may feel a decreased sense of self-esteem and self-worth, depression, anger, frustration or isolation — and you might miss your ex.

Although you may experience a host of painful, upsetting emotions, don’t suppress them. According to domestic violence expert Patricia Evans in her book, The Verbally Abusive Relationship, recovery from verbal abuse offers the chance for you to accept and recognize your emotions as valid. Write in a journal, cry, scream, beat the couch with a pillow, join a kick-boxing class or find another activity that will allow you to physically and mentally process your feelings.

Find Social Support

Verbally abusive spouses and partners often socially isolate their significant others. You may have been cut off from your friends, family and other forms of previous social support. Even though you’ve taken the steps toward a better life on your own, it’s a lot easier to move on when you’ve surrounded yourself with an encouraging and loving support network. And an understanding friend can keep you on track when you feel like contacting your ex, says the National Domestic Violence Hotline.

Reconnect with loved ones and seek opportunities to meet new people by reaching out and developing your personal interests. Take a cooking course, join a group fitness class, knock on your neighbor’s door and say hi. Join a domestic violence survivors group to connect with and obtain support from people who’ve been in your shoes.

Seek Counseling

Individual counseling can be a beneficial source of support throughout the recovery process. Trained counselors who specialize in domestic violence can lay out a framework of recovery and help you identify the skills and strengths you already have to begin moving forward in your new life, says licensed social worker Karen Koenig in an article for “Social Work Today” (see reference below). Contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline to talk confidentially to an advocate and to obtain more information about counselors in your area.

If you think that a friend or someone you know is in an abusive or unhealthy relationship, it can be difficult to know what to do. You may want to help, but be scared to lose them as a friend or feel as though it is not your place to step in. All of these feelings are normal, but at One Love we believe the most important thing you can do as friend is start a conversation. Here are a few tips to help you talk to your friend.

Calmly start a conversation on a positive note

Find time to talk to your friend one-on-one in a private setting. Start by giving your friend positive affirmations and complimentary statements like, “You’re always so fun to be around. I’ve missed you!” Once your friend feels comfortable, you can begin calmly voicing your concern for your friend. It is likely that they feel as though things are already chaotic enough in their life, so to best help them, you will need to be a steady support with whom they can talk openly and peacefully. If you don’t panic and do your best to make them feel safe, then it is pretty likely that they will continue to seek your advice. You don’t want to scare your friend by worrying, starting an argument or blaming them.

Be supportive

Listen to your friend and let them open up about the situation on their own terms. Don’t be forceful with the conversation. It may be very hard for your friend to talk about their relationship, but remind them that they are not alone and that you want to help.

Focus on the unhealthy behaviors

The focus of the conversation should be on the unhealthy behaviors in the relationship and to provide your friend with a safe space to talk about it. Sometimes, our instinct is to immediately label the relationship as “abusive” to drive home the severity of the situation. This instinct, however, can cause your friend to retreat and shut down. Instead, focus on the specific behaviors you’re seeing and how that behavior makes them feel. For example, saying something like “It seems like your partner wants to know where you are a lot and is always texting and calling – how does that make you feel?” pinpoints the specific behavior and gets your friend to think about how it makes them feel. You can also gently point out that certain behaviors seem unhealthy and be honest about how you would feel if someone did it to you. This is one of the first steps in getting your friend to understand what is and is not an appropriate behavior in a relationship. Help them to understand for themselves that something is off about the relationship, and acknowledge that their feelings are legitimate.

Keep the conversation friendly, not preachy

Very few people in abusive relationships recognize themselves as victims and it is likely that they do not want to be viewed that way. If you want to be helpful, make yourself emotionally accessible and available to your friend. One way to reassure your friend that you are not judging them is to normalize the situation. Talking openly about your own experiences with relationship troubles will help them feel as though they are not alone. Be careful not to derail the conversation and keep the focus on your friend’s situation. Try to make it feel like an equal exchange between two friends — not like a therapist and a patient or a crisis counselor and a victim.

Don’t place the blame on your friend

Help your friend understand that the behaviors they are experiencing are not normal, and that it is NOT their fault their partner is acting this way. They may feel personally responsible for their partner’s behavior or as though they brought on the abuse, but assure them that this is not the case. Everyone is responsible for their own behavior, and no matter what the reason, abuse is never okay.

Allow your friend to make their own decision

If your friend is in an abusive relationship, the last thing you want to do is tell them to “just break up!” Relationship abuse is very complex, and your friend may be experiencing some form of trauma bonding—or loyalty to the person who is abusing them. Also, your friend is already dealing with a controlling and manipulative partner and the last thing that they need is for you to mimic those behaviors by forcefully telling them what to do.

Offer solutions to your friend

The best way for you to help your friend is to offer them options. Don’t push any one of them in particular, but instead let your friend know that you will support them no matter what they decide to do. Some of these options include visiting the campus violence prevention center or behavioral health center, talking to a R.A. or faculty member, or even calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline. Depending on how ready your friend is to open up, they may feel more comfortable vetting the situation with someone anonymously over the phone, or they may want to have the conversation in person with someone on campus who can help. If your friend is planning to end things with their partner, you should create a safety plan with them because the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is post-break up. Maintain a calm approach when dealing with the situation and be open to what your friend is most comfortable with. At the suggestion of seeking help, it is possible that your friend may try to cover up or down play the abuse. Reassure your friend that they are the expert in their own life and make them feel as though they are in control of the situation.

The only exception here is if someone is in imminent danger – whether it is self-harm or harm inflicted by another person. If your friend is in immediate danger, you should alert authorities (i.e., campus safety or 911) right away. Even if you think your friend will feel betrayed or angry with you for going to the police, saving someone’s life is the most important thing. Relationship abuse can be fatal and you should not hesitate to take serious action if you think that anyone is at risk for physical or sexual harm.

Expect more conversations in the future

The first time you have this conversation with your friend, they may admit a few things that have happened and then suddenly pull away or take it back. You do not have to get your friend to change their mind completely about their partner and you don’t need them to “admit” that they are being abused. The goal of the conversation is to let them know that you care and that you are available for them when they need to talk. It is not likely for the situation to be resolved neatly after one conversation, so you should expect to have more talks like this. Be patient through the process, and know that you are doing the right thing by talking to them about this difficult topic. Let your friend know that you support them and that you are there for them should they need you.

If you would like more information on how you can help a friend in an unhealthy or abusive relationship, please check out the US Department of Health’s Office on Women’s Health, or call the National Domestic Violence hotline at 1-800-799-7233 to get advice.

How to get out of an abusive relationship and start afresh

As a couples therapist, I work with many couples who want to begin again after a recent betrayal or years of disappointment or distance. Yes, couples can effectively learn how to start over in a relationship, but it takes a commitment to forgive and to develop new patterns and memories together.

This process is certainly not easy. Pain caused by someone close to you is a huge burden. The guilt can eat you up and make it almost impossible to have room to heal.

The good news is that nothing is irreparable. The realistic news is that it takes work. And the bad news is that some couples can’t seem to put that work in to get there.

But there are some couples who can. It’s really up to you and how badly you want to repair the relationship.

Many people probably want to go back to the way things were before there were problems. But you can never do that.

As a couple, you have experienced a lot more and have grown. So, you shouldn’t want the same old couple back, but a new couple that’s ready to take on the world together.

It’s hard to do on your own. Asking for help can be really beneficial, especially if you’re having problems communicating altogether. Asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness, as some people might think.

You’re strong enough to accept every bit of help you can get because you want the relationship to work that much. It’s the best thing you can do.

So, here’s how to start over in a relationship by taking these emotional steps.

1. Identify what you value about the relationship.

When we are hurt, it’s tempting to focus on the difficult and less-than-appealing elements of our partners and our relationship. But couples who work through difficult times keep their eyes on the positives, and can clearly say why they want to stay with this person and what they love about them.

This step can also give you clarity. If the only reason you can think of to stay together is that you dread the task of separating, that may not be enough to get you through.

By clarifying what has worked in your relationship, you can build on those things and stay motivated to do the repair work needed.

2. Get support for the relationship.

If it was easy to just press the reset button and get over the hurt, you would just do that. The truth is, if your friends and family have heard you complain about your partner month after month, they may support you but find it hard to support the relationship.

Also, if you and your partner are trying to be the only support for each other, you may find yourselves in a pattern of constantly having difficult talks about past hurts and how you’re feeling.

Therapy is great because it gives you an unbiased, experienced support person, and it allows you and your partner to focus time together outside of therapy on having fun together again, which is critical.

3. Take steps to make sure the behavior that hurt you won’t repeat.

This step is not about being naïve. This step is about figuring out what you and your partner need to change to convince you that the patterns that happened before are not going to happen again.

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Couples that recover from relationship wounds can point to the things they each did to address the problems and make changes. They have a plan to address future problems before they grow. Folk wisdom tells us that we can’t forgive injuries that are still happening to us.

It’s hard to start over when you’re in the same old patterns. Both people have to be willing to change.

4. Make clear promises to yourself.

One of the fears people have is that if they forgive their partner this time, then maybe they will never stand up for themselves again. The big fear is actually not that their partner will take advantage of this; the big fear is that they can no longer trust themselves to set limits and enforce them.

In this step it is important to allow yourself time to reassess your own limits. So, maybe the things your 20-year-old self thought were unforgivable, are forgivable after all. This does not mean you have lost all right to relationship boundaries.

This is a conversation you need to have with yourself. The step to take is to forgive yourself for being someone who can get hurt and then to trust yourself anyway.

The one thing most abused women have in common is uncertainty of whether or not they are being abused. That is the insidious aspect of abuse; it causes you to question your own best judgment. If you’ve found yourself here, reading this article, then more than likely you are in an abusive relationship. It may be time to start planning your exit.

Every first step begins with a plan. If you’ve spent time in an abusive relationship getting out means planning for your escape; where you will live, your financial future. While putting your plan together follow the rules below. Keep yourself safe until you can get out of the relationship for good.

Pre-Exit Plan:

  • Make sure you have a safe place to go if you sense you are about to be abused or receive violent treatment. You should avoid rooms that have no exits such as a bathroom or basement and rooms where weapons may be found such as the kitchen.
  • Have a list of people that you consider to be “safe” contacts so you will have someone you can call or go to for help.
  • Always have change with you in case you are stranded and need to make a phone call. Make a list of important phone numbers and memorize them.
  • Create a secret word or sign that you can use so that your family, friends or co-workers will know you need them to call for help.
  • Plan what you will say to your partner if they become abusive or violent.
  • Always remember that you are entitled to live without fear and violence.

Exit Plan:

Now it is time to set your plan in action. You have to have somewhere to go, a way to support yourself so that your new life gets off to a secure proper beginning. Below are things you need to have in place in order to move on and rebuild your life.

  • Leave: You need somewhere to go. If you can’t afford a place of your own find a friend or family member who will allow you to stay with them until you are able to get a place of your own. Or use the legal system to have him removed from the home.You can do this by filing for divorce and petitioning the court for exclusive rights to the marital home. The danger with this strategy is that he will know where you are. You are safer leaving and finding safe harbor with a friend or relative.
  • Bank Account: You are going to need an account in your name only. If you’ve been planning correctly you will have this set up with a bit of money in it before you leave. DO NOT set up a new account in the same bank you have a joint account with him. Find a new bank, close to the location you will be living.
  • Money: You’re going to need this too. Where can you get it from? All kinds of places; if you work deposit some of your salary in your new bank account. What if he is a financial control freak? All is not lost; collect change from his pockets, save some of the grocery money, do anything you can do and save up. When you are ready to go, don’t throw your wedding ring at him, pawn it! Don’t burn your wedding dress, sell it! Sell/pawn anything you can get your hands on before you go.
  • Legal help: Yes, you are going to need an attorney. If you haven’t done it already, now would be a good time to go to your local women’s crisis center for information. They will know the law in your State and will be able to help you find legal aid services, offer counseling and assistance with housing, protection orders, child custody, divorce, etc…

Post-Exit Plan:

Now that you are out or, he is out there are steps you need to take to protect yourself and your new life.

  • If you’re still in the home you shared with your husband change every door lock even if the door was not in use. Your husband may have a key and you don’t want him to be able to get in. Be sure all of the windows are locked.
  • Be sure you change your phone number if you’re still in the home you shared with him. Change it even if you have moved to a new location. Get an unlisted number and do not give it out to anyone you’re not sure you can trust.
  • Get an answering machine so that you can screen your phone calls.
  • Document and keep the records of all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving him in a safe place. You may need those records when contacting support programs for help. You will definitely need those records when seeking legal assistance.
  • If you are confronted by your husband be sure you have an escape plan ready and be prepared to use it.
  • Make sure all meetings with husband are held in a public place. Never agree to a private meeting even if he is being nice to you.
  • Do not follow the same routine every day. Take different routes to and from your home or place of work. Shop at different times and in different locations. Don’t have lunch or dinner in the same place every day.
  • If you have children in school alert them to your situation. Put a plan in place with the school so they will know what to do if trouble arises.
  • Talk to your boss, tell him/her about your situation and make plans in case your husband harasses you at work or shows up. Alert your co-workers and business contacts too.
  • Do your best to avoid being home alone. Don’t go to isolated areas.

I hope you understand the importance of having both a short and long-term plan when attempting to leave an abusive relationship. Start making your plans now so that you can get out and stay out either today or down the road. If you don’t, you may well end up dead. Please call the National Domestic Abuse hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233).