Domestic violence happens in 28% of homes in America. If you or someone you know is caught in the trap of ongoing abuse, leaving may be the first step toward resolution. You cannot have a meaningful dialog or resolve problems and issues if one party is living in fear. Safety first, then reconciliation and resolution. Leaving can be the most dangerous time. To leave safely, preparation is key. Before you counsel someone who is stuck in an abusive relationship, watch this captivating video from someone who has lived the nightmare. It will help you to understand the problem and give you a better perspective as you come alongside a victim.
Preparing to Leave
- Open a savings account and/or credit card in your own name.
- Prepare a bug-out bag with key items from checklist below.
- Identify a trusted neighbor and explain your situation and plan.
- Decide who at work you will inform. Include security. Provide a picture of your abuser if possible.
- Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors.
- Identify escape routes and practice using them.
- Get and use a PO Box for personal and official mail
- Put photos and heirlooms in storage or at a friends house
- Clean your browser history, change your passwords
- Place one extra set of keys in a safety box under the bumper and one with a neighbor
- Keep the shelter or hotline phone numbers close at hand.
- If an argument seems unavoidable, position yourself where you can easily get away.
- Stay away from bathroom, kitchen or anywhere else weapons might be available.
REMEMBER: Leaving your abuser is the most dangerous time!
Safety with an Order of Protection (OOP)
- Keep your OOP with you at all times. Give a copy to a trusted friend or neighbor.
- Call the police if your partner breaks the protective order.
- Inform family, friends, neighbors and your physician that you have an OOP in effect.
- Screen your phone calls using caller ID or use an answering machine.
- If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so.
- Attend a women’s or victim’s support group for at least two weeks.
What to take when you leave:
- Driver’s License
- Birth Certificates
- Social Security Cards
- AFDC/Food Stamp Paperwork
- Order of Protection
- Lease, Rental Agreement or Deed
- Car registration and Insurance
- Medical Records
- School Records
- Work Permits/Green Card/Visa
- Divorce Paperwork
- Custody Paperwork
- Money and/or Credit Cards
- House and Car Keys
- Small Saleable Objects
- Address Book
- Pictures of You, kids and Abuser
- Children’s Small Toys
- Change of Clothes
- Cell phone and charger
- Summerville Victim Advocate – 843-873-1262
- My Sister’s House – 843-744-3242
- People Against Rape (PAR) – 745-0144