How to leave your Abuser

You are going to need to be resourceful because  the CA Governor slashed  much of the DV shelter and prevention services – but it can be done and I will tell you how.

You need to plan – this is not likely to work if you do this spur of the moment because there are things you are going to need.

BEFORE YOU LEAVE

  • Find someone you trust who does not know your partner. (co-worker, college friend, etc…) and get permission to stay at their home when you leave. Keep an “escape kit” in a closet there so it is ready when you are.
  • Remove yourself from social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and FourSquare. It won’t do any good to “hide” from someone if you are “checking in” everywhere you go and updating your status message.
  • Create a new and secret e-mail address that you NEVER check from home. Do not leave a digital trail.
  • Know important telephone numbers (police, friends, hotline, shelter) and keep them with you – taped to the back of your Driver’s licence.
  • If you sense a violent episode is imminent, and it is safe to do so, disable or hide weapons.
  • Teach your children to call 911.
  • Talk to your friends, family , co-workers and neighbors and give them permission to call 911 if they suspect you need it. Come up with a CODE WORD  or phrase so they are alerted that you need the police, ie:” I want some Key Lime Pie.” Remind them NEVER to talk to your abuser about you without your permission. Vague answers only.
  • Practice getting yourself and your children out of your home safely. Just like a fire/earthquake drill – you want to practice this and know which doors and windows are safe to use and where you should meet up if you get separated – ie – the side of the neighbor’s house, the 7/11 down the street, etc…  Tell your children you are creating a Family Emergency Plan like a fire/earthquake,tornado drill – so that if they tell your abuser they will not become suspicious.
  • Find a new bank and open an account in YOUR NAME ONLY. Ask that statements be sent via e-mail (to your new account) only and that nothing be mailed to you. Use a family member’s address if you need to.  
  • Leave no trace – no notes, airline confirmation numbers, telephone numbers or addresses of shelters.

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AFTER YOU LEAVE

  • Get a restraining order against your abuser. Here is How
  • Stay in a different area. Don’t stay in the same neighborhood and shop at your usual places. If you can move to the edge or out of the county do it. Yes, switching schools is disruptive to your children, however, living with the aftermath of your abuser finding you can be even worse.
  • Inform family, friends, neighbors that you have a restraining order in effect
  • Keep a copy of your restraining order with you at all times. Give out copies to anyone who has contact with you or your kids, including the police where you are staying. If possible, attach a photo of your abuser to the copies you place at work and at your children’s day care.
  • Update the child care provider with information on who can pick the kids up. Make sure the restraining order is in your child’s file or that the sign out sheet is notated.
  • If your abuser violates the restraining order, call the police.
  • Have a back up plan in the event the police do not respond quickly.
  • Change your locks and secure your residence if you were not living with the abuser and can’t move.
  • If you have thoughts of returning to a potentially abusive situation, attend support groups or call someone for support.
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    THE ESCAPE KIT

     – that you have stashed in a safe place (not your home or car). This list is from Haven Hills with a few changes by me.

    Daily Necessities

    • Money: cash and coins, enough for transportation, food and lodging for a few days. Your abuser will be able to trace you through a credit card and may close/empty bank accounts before you can get to them or may be waiting for you at the bank.
    • Credit cards, bank books, check books, safety deposit box key
    • Medications and prescriptions – enough for at least a month
    • Address books/calendars/appointment books with important telephone numbers-police, friends, hotline, shelter and important addresses and directions (to local police department, to hospital emergency room)
    • Keys: house, car, office, garage, cabin, boat, motorcycle, etc.
    • Children’s favorite toys, blankets
    • Extra clothing for you and your children  – for all kinds of weather. Pajamas, jeans, tennis shoes, dress shoes, sweater – at least 3 changes.
    • Infant formula, diapers, etc.
    • Food – just like in your earthquake kit. pop-top soups, chips, juices – easily portable and no need for refrigeration or cooking.
    • Telephone calling cards and a pre-paid disposable cell phone that only a few trusted people have the number to.

    Important Paperwork (originals or photocopies)

    • Identification for you and your children (vital)especially birth certificates, passports, green cards/alien registration/work permits/Visas, driver’s licenses and car registration, social security cards, school ID cards
    • Insurance papers (Car,Health)
    • Welfare papers (GR, MediCal, SSI, Food Stamps, CalWORKS GAIN, AFDC, social security) Although, as long as you have your Calworks card – the county can re-issue the forms. Be SURE to change your mailing address with the county and request all funds be issued by CHECK TO YOUR NAME ONLY. Your abuser may still have access to your EBT card.
    • Legal papers-marriage license, adoption papers or Court Order pertaining to custody of children, divorce decrees, police complaints, restraining order, income tax returns, school records, professional licenses, diplomas, etc.
    • Medical records: especially immunization records for children, dental records, clinic cards
    • Lease/rental agreement or house deed mortgage payment book
    • Current unpaid bills/copies of monthly bills and tickets for dry cleaning
    • Pay stubs
    • Animal vaccination records and veterinarian’s contact information
    • Membership cards (trade unions, shopping cooperatives, library, discount, etc)

    ——– This is why planning is important. It is hard to leave your abuser if you have to ask them for your birth certificates so you can register the kids in school —————–

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    more reading and information can be found at

    http://www.havenhills.org/ – where most of the content in this article originated

    http://www.womenslaw.org/index.php know your rights and navigate the legal system

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