Leaving a Violent Relationship
Preparing to Leave
Keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures of injuries.
Keep a journal of all violence: noting dates, events and threats made, if possible. Keep your journal in a safe place.
Know where you can go to get help. Tell someone what is happening to you.
If you are injured, go to a doctor or an emergency room and report what happened to you. Ask that they document your visit.
Plan with your children. Find a safe place for them to go for help, like a room with a lock or a friend’s house. Reassure them that their job is to stay safe, not to protect you.
Contact your local shelter and find out about laws/other resources available to you. Know your rights before you have to use them. WomensLaw.org has state by state legal information.
Get job skills or take courses at a community college as you can.
Try to set money aside or ask friends or family members to hold money for you.
When You Leave
Make a plan for how and where you will escape quickly. You may request a police escort or stand-by when you leave. If you have to leave in a hurry, use the following list of items as a guide to what you need to bring with you. Our advocates can help you come up with a personalized safety plan for leaving.
- Driver’s license
- Birth certificate and children’s birth certificates
- Social security cards
- Financial information
- Money and/or credit cards (in your name)
- Checking and/or savings account books
2) Legal Papers
- Protective order
- Copies of any lease or rental agreements, or the deed to your home
- Car registration and insurance papers
- Health and life insurance papers
- Medical records for you and your children
- School records
- Work permits/green Card/visa
- Divorce and custody papers
- Marriage license
3) Emergency Numbers
- Your local police and/or sheriff’s department
- Your local domestic violence program or shelter
- Friends, relatives, and family members
- Your local doctor’s office and hospital
- County and/or District Attorney’s Office
- Extra set of house and car keys
- Valuable jewelry
- Pay-as-you-go cell phone
- Address book
- Pictures and sentimental items
- Several changes of clothes for you and your children
- Emergency money
After You Leave
Change your locks and phone number.
Call the telephone company to request caller ID. Have your phone number blocked so neither your partner nor anyone else will be able to get your new, unlisted phone number.
Change your work hours and the route you take to work.
Change the route you take to your children's school or consider changing schools.
Alert school authorities of the situation.
If you have a restraining order, keep a copy of it with you at all times. Tell friends, neighbors, and employers that you have an active restraining order.
Tell local police about the order and give copies to employers, neighbors, and schools, along with a picture of the offender.
Consider renting a post office box or using a friend's address for your mail. (Be aware that addresses are on restraining orders and police reports.)
Be careful to whom you give your new address and phone number.
Reschedule appointments that the offender is aware of.
Use different stores and visit different social spots.
Alert neighbors, and request that they call the police if they feel you may be in danger.
Replace wooden doors with steel or metal doors. Install security systems if possible.
Install a motion-sensitive lighting system.
Tell coworkers about the situation, and have your calls screened by a receptionist if possible.
Tell people who take care of your children or drive them/pick them up from school and activities. Explain your situation to them, and provide them with a copy of the restraining order.