The most dangerous time in an abusive relationship is likely to be when the victim leaves or tries to leave. Each case should be thoroughly examined for risk and include a safety plan. The safety plan should include a plan of escape including a destination. It should be quick and executed on when it is least expected. Determine the domestic violence resources in your area or the area you intend to relocate in. Set aside a cash reserve or make arrangements with friends and family for financial assistance. Do not put your plans in writing where they may be uncovered by your abuser. Have an extra set of keys so you cannot be denied the use of your vehicle. Identify (if you are able) and remove valuables ahead of time.
Apply for a restraining order. While the order is not a guarantee of your safety, it has proven effective in deterring abusers and heightening law enforcement response when necessary. Carry a certified copy of your order with you at all times. Give copies to neighbors along with a picture of the abuser. Ask your neighbors to call law enforcement if they fear for your safety. Advise the children’s schools who is and is not allowed to pick up the children. Provide the school with a copy of the order. If the order is violated, call the police. Keep a charged cell phone preprogrammed with the number for local law enforcement.
Change your routine. If necessary change your job and area of residence. Reschedule any classes or appointments your abuser is already aware of. Shop at different stores and frequent different social spots.
Change your telephone number and be cautious as to whom you give the new number. Consider enrolling in California’s confidential address program “Safe at Home.”
While many break-ups will not require such extreme measures, unfortunately some do and will. The ability to successfully escape depends upon planning, preparation and taking control of the situation. The resources are there to help.