Preparing to Escape
There may come a time where you feel the best option is to leave your partner. If you decide to leave your partner, plan carefully. Do not suggest or indicate that you are planning on leaving; sometimes abuse escalates if the abuser suspects that you are thinking of leaving, most likely because he/she is worried about losing control.
Plan a time to leave when your partner is not home.
Some things to think about after leaving are:
- Think about who you can stay with and make arrangements in advance so that if you decide to leave suddenly, you will have a place to go immediately.
- You might also consider leaving documents, money, or other belongings with a friend or relative while living with your abuser.
- Saving all the documents you took with you when you left, even if you think you may not need them anymore.
- Save and record texts, phone and e-mail messages, and calls from your abuser, and document any other attempts to contact you, such as through a third party, stalking, attempts at injuries, to talk, or any other incidents.
- Changing your phone number, screening calls, and possibly blocking the abuser's number.
- Changing your e-mail.
- Change locks if your abuser has a key.
- Contact services you receive mail from, such as banks or welfare, to inform them of your change of address, or have the post office hold your mail. If necessary, call Social Security to change representative payees if the payee is the abuser or someone you can't trust.
- Notify your children's school about who can and can't pick them up or come to their school.
- Get a Post Office Box so your abuser can't find your new address.
- If you work, try to get a well-lit parking spot where you work. Give a photo or description of the abuser to your boss and/or colleagues so they know
- Make copies of important keys to your home, car, or work.
- Memorize or keep important telephone numbers with you. This can include the local police station, family and friends you have included in your safety plan, domestic violence program, your children's school, your social worker, or your therapist.
- If your abuser checks your messages, texts, or e-mails, create a code system with a friend, family member, colleague, neighbor, or anyone else, if you need to communicate for help. -Keep your gas tank full if you use a car, or keep a copy of public transportation routes that you may need in a safe place. Back your car in so you can drive away quickly if escaping.
- Practice your safety plan, with your children if possible. Review it with yourself and your children as often as possible, whether or not you can actually practice doing it.
- Open a bank account in only your name. Keep the paperwork in a secret place in your home or in the home of someone you can trust.
- Keep spare change on you for phone calls and public transportation on you at all times.
- If you feel you can trust your boss and/or any of your colleagues, inform them of the situation. Talk to the security supervisor or other security staff about your situation and the importance of avoiding your abuser at work.
- Keep your cell phone and any other electronic devices charged and ready.
It is normal to miss your partner or feel sad, confused, or lonely. It is important to remember that you can't change your partner, and returning to the relationship could put you back in danger, possibly more than before you left because your partner may fear of losing control again or be mad that you left. Sometimes an abuser will try to make contact with apologies, promises, and expressions of love. This does not mean that he/she has changed and is no longer abusive.
Try to keep documents, identification, and records in specific places that you can get to if you need to leave suddenly. Some documents or necessities you should keep safe are:
- Marriage and driver's licenses
- Birth certificates – yours and your children's
- Passports, visas, green cards, and work permits
- Medicine, eyeglasses, contacts
- Keys and/or a set of extra keys for your house, car, or work.
- Money, checkbooks, credit cards, mortgage payment book, unpaid bills
- Proof of income for you and your partner (W-2 or pay stub)
- Social Security cards
- Divorce, custody papers, and restraining order
- Welfare EBT card and award letter
- Lease/rental agreement
- Car registration
- Insurance card and medical records
- School reports and records
- Extra clothes for you and your children
- Address book
- Pictures, jewelry, or other things of value to you
- Other things to pack if you are escaping with children are:
- Their favorite toy, stuffed animal, game, blanket, or book
- Extra clothes