9 Things To Do Before Leaving An Abusive Marriage

Couple arguing by window, profile
Manchan/Photodisc/Getty Images

Domestic violence is about control. Aggression is a primitive and immature reaction to a sense of helplessness and feeling a loss of control by the abuser.

If you are preparing to leave an abusive marriage you should expect the abuser to feel even less control. In other words, expect problems and be prepared for problems. do whatever you need to do to protect yourself physically by having a solid plan in place before leaving.

 

 

Below are 9 actions you should take before leaving an abusive marriage:

 

1. Interview with an attorney. Preferably one with experience in dealing with domestic violence issues.

2. If you feel your safety is at risk get a civil or criminal restraining order and have it in place before you leave. An attorney will be able to walk you through the process of obtaining and protecting yourself via a restraining order. 

3. Have somewhere to go. Research local domestic violence women’s shelters, ask a friend if you can stay with her/him or if you can afford it rent an apartment but, keep your address from your husband. 

Fleeing in the middle of the night or, on the spur of the moment leaves you with nowhere to go but back to your abuser. Don't wait until the next attack on you, get your plan in place, have somewhere to go and leave when you are calm and collected. 

4. Take with you copies of important documents and personal items such as:

  • Birth certificates, driver’s license, social security card, health insurance cards, deed to any property you own and passport bank account statements, money and credit cards.
  • Copies of any outstanding restraining orders or court orders you have against your husband/wife.
  • Needed clothes and personal effects.

    5. If you move into a single-family residence, install exterior lighting and a home security system if possible. Get to know your neighbors and ask them to let you know if they see anyone snooping around your property.

    There is no shame in sharing your story with new neighbors, friends or family. You are in a position of needing all the help you can get. Let others know what you're going through so they can be there to help if  and when you need help. 

    6. Get a post office box and fill out a change of address card with the post office. Have your mail forwarded to the post office box, not to where you will be living after you leave your abuser.

    7. Talk to your child’s teachers and principle. Let them know what is going on and ask to be notified if your abuser shows up at school. Leave copies of any restraining orders or court orders you have pertaining to the situation.

    8. Acquire a cell phone. Prepaid cell phones are excellent because the calls can’t be traced. Don’t give your cell phone or home phone number to your abuser or anyone who might give it to him.

    9. Talk to trusted family and friends so that you will be surrounded by a support system. Take advantage of the support they have to offer.

    As I've already said, you can't remove yourself from a violent relationship without a strong support system. That support system will consist of your attorney, a good therapist if you can afford one, friends, family and local organizations set up to help someone in your situation.