Getting Out of An Abusive Relationship: Resources and Helpful Steps

October is National Domestic Violence Awareness month and with heightened awareness comes the need for resources and solutions. To put things plainly, if you or someone you know is in a violent or abusive relationship, get help no matter how hard it may seem. Sometimes those in violent situations are unaware of the options and resources available to them, so to make things easier we have included a list of six steps to getting out of an abusive relationship.

1. Talk to someone immediately

 

Tell someone what is happening to you. It can be anyone, just speak up. Family members, friends and coworkers may be able to help you out of your situation. And if you don’t know what options are available to you, someone else may be able to help you get in contact with a counselor or a professional that can help you. If you feel alone and have no one that you can talk with face-to-face, there are many hotlines and advocacy groups that can lend a hand. You may be able to find some local groups that can provide services right away. They will be able to provide you with valuable information that can help.

 

2. Develop a safety plan

 

The most dangerous time for an abuse victim is when they are attempting to leave the situation. Professional counselors and advisors will help you develop a plan to get out of the relationship safely. You may need to set aside some money for your exit, have an emergency bag with essentials and important documents packed and have a scheduled time to leave. Plan to leave when the abuser is out of the home to avoid conflict.

 

3. Find another place to stay

 

Alert family and friends that you may need to stay with them during your emergency planning. If family and friends are not an option, search for shelters and relocation assistance offered by many domestic violence organizations. Just having a place to escape will make things easier when the situation turns ugly. Many abuse victims stay in their situation because they feel they have nowhere to go and no place to turn. Keep your options open and always have your plan to put in motion.

 

4. File a restraining order  

If the situation is dangerous and you are in fear of your abuser, file a restraining order. Temporary orders can be granted before you get to court as it may take a few weeks for a court date to arrive. It may help to have professionals walk you through the process of properly filing a restraining order as it may be denied if filed incorrectly. Make sure to set clear boundaries and penalties within the restraining order so that nothing can be misconstrued and no loopholes are open for your abuser.  

5. Sever all contact if possible  

If it at all possible, cut ties with your abuser immediately. This is especially hard for people who have been in long term relationships with their abusers or people who are being abused by family members, but it is important to keep as much distance as possible for your own safety.

 

6. Communicate through a mediator only

 

If completely cutting ties is not an option, perhaps you have children with the abuser or the abusers are relatives with financial ties, then be sure to communicate exclusively through a mediator. Not only will this provide a witness for all conversations, should things get ugly, but it also helps keep the abuser in check. It will also keep the conversation on point and remove the opportunity for manipulation or violence.

 

7. Report the crime

 

If the situation is ever violent, report it. Reporting the crime is an important step that many victims often don’t take. Many are afraid of the repercussions if they report their abusers, but it is important to disallow your abuser to get away with causing you physical harm. If you are in danger, then a police report and an arrest may be your saving grace. The fear of what others will say or think should never come at the expense of your safety.

 

Leaving may be the hardest thing that many abuse victims ever do. It is a big leap and most victims don’t make the decision lightly. Help yourself in any way that you can. Always remember that there are people out there that can lend assistance and help you get out of your situation.  For help, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY).