If You’re Leaving Your Abuser, You Need A Plan. Here’s How To Make One.

The right plan will save you from additional and avoidable trauma.

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

1. Gather evidence of the abuse.

This can include photos, text messages, audio recordings or other types of evidence. Store them someplace safe (ideally digital) and make sure that someone you trust can also access them. Even if you’re worried about having enough evidence, do not jeopardize your safety by attempting to provoke your abuser in an effort to obtain more. No potential benefit outweighs the risk of your life.

2. Build your social support network.

Make sure you have a few people that know your situation who you can count on for support. That support can be emotional or more tangible. Consider using your smartphone to share your location with these people so that there’s always someone who can verify where you are at any given time. This group should remain intact after the breakup until you feel as physically secure as possible.

3. Decide where you’re physically going.

Assuming you live with your abuser, you’ll need to pick a safe place where you can stay until you’re fully independent. Even if you don’t live with your abuser, it may be best to stay somewhere else temporarily if you think they may seek to retaliate by harming or stalking you. Consider how long you’ll need to stay there and plan what you’ll need to bring with you accordingly.

4. Get your finances in order.

Run a full credit check that will show you if your abuser has taken out any loans or lines of credit in your name. Ensure you have your own bank account that they can’t access, and that you have enough funds to subsist for as long as you expect it will take to get back on your feet. You may not have enough time to save the money you need, but remember that your safety and wellbeing is always more important than your finances. You’ll have the rest of your life to straighten out the former, but you may only have the rest of your life, period, if you escape the abusive relationship.

5. Clear your browser history and secure your devices.

When your abuser finds out you intend to leave, they may react with more aggression than you’ve seen from them yet. Try not to let them discover your intent to leave before you’re ready to execute your escape plan. Be sure to clear your browser history if you have shared devices, or suspect your partner monitors your internet usage. For your protection, when accessing resources from The Domestic Violence Hotline’s website, pressing the “x” displayed on the right side of any page or the “escape” key on your keyboard will automatically take you to Google’s homepage, with no ability to hit the “Back” button on your browser.

Optional: Decide who’s coming with you.

If you have children or pets, you’ll need to formulate an escape plan that includes them. Consider carefully the language you’ll use with children to discuss the situation in a way that prioritizes their safety but doesn’t frighten them. Remember to bring everything your child and/or pet will need and be sure that the place you’re going will be comfortable for them.

I write about my ongoing journey from domestic violence victim to survivor.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store