When attempting to get out of an abusive marriage there are many ways you can decide to go about it. The process can be dragged out by courts, forms, or your own doubts (i.e., Is this the best for the kids? Should I give it more time?) making it seem nearly impossible. And there is always the fear that taking that step will escalate the abuse. That’s why preparation is key and the first step to your escape.
Getting Yourself Ready
First thing you should do is make sure your money is well protected. Don’t allow your spouse any chance to give you a problem with finances. This can make things very difficult once you decide you are ready to announce your decision. Stash some cash away safely, where it can’t be found. This will fund your daily expenses after you get away.
Meanwhile, you should be preparing yourself to contact the authorities by getting as much evidence as possible together. This is just as crucial for the trial process of your divorce as reporting the abuse to the police. This should always be done before leaving, you will want the law on your side when the time comes. This will also be very important for the divorce proceedings.
Pick Your Team
So you are as prepared as you can be and tell your partner you want a divorce at this point. If your safety is at risk, do it over the phone or in a public setting where they can’t make a move against you. Get legal counsel to help you with the divorce and serve the papers.
Get yourself a good divorce lawyer and process server on your side. Whether you’re in Queens or Los Angeles, secure your children’s legal placement and outside support that you will surely need from friends or family. Most importantly stay strong and believe it will all work out.
Finally, and this can’t be stressed enough: find people who can help you. Find a safe place and people who will create a safe environment for you. Go to family, friends, people you trust.
If you don’t have someone you know who can take you in, find a shelter for victims of domestic abuse in your city—they’re equipped with the staff and know how necessary not only to look after you and the kids, but also how to keep you safe and deal with the law.
Here’s a checklist of what you’ll need to make sure the separation is clean and safe:
- Another set of car and house keys, to give yourself access to the means to escape
- Birth certificates, both yours and your children’s
- Your driver’s license or other ID
- If you have one, a green card/work permit
- Cash, credit card(s), your checkbook
- Clothes for everyone
- Health insurance documents, medicine for you and your children
- Court papers/orders
Plan a safe getaway. Figure out how you’ll leave, down to which doors or windows you’ll need to use, where you will go and what route to take. It may not be dangerous now but there’s no telling what could happen next.