By Nora Hood
This is a guest post by Nora Hood. We collaborated together on the details. I hope you find this helpful as you navigate domestic violence. Nora, we welcome your insights! Thanks for writing.
Leaving an abusive relationship is vital, but it can also be dangerous. With proper safeguards and careful planning, however, you can escape and start anew. This article offers the following advice for safely ending the abuse and beginning a new life.
Plan your escape. Careful planning is the key to a smooth and quick escape from domestic abuse. Do your research on a public computer somewhere like a local library, so your partner can’t trace your steps. Contact an area shelter to establish a relationship and for assistance in developing your plan. If you don’t know of a shelter close to you, reach out to The National Domestic Violence Hotline by calling 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224. Domestic Shelters.org is another great resource: https://www.domesticshelters.org/
In case of an emergency, teach your children how to call 911, and reach out to someone your partner doesn’t know who could provide shelter for you and your children should the need arise. Think through what escape route is most practical in your home, remembering stairwells, windows, and doorways. Using positive language, make a plan with your children of how you will meet if you become separated.
Start packing. Love Is Respect recommends creating an escape kit. This will include your daily necessities, such as medications, keys, money, clothing, your children’s needs such as diapers, toys, and formula, and contact information for your friends, family members, workplace, and creditors. You should also pack your identification information and legal paperwork for you and your children, such as marriage certificate, restraining orders, birth certificates, naturalization papers, Social Security cards, green cards and passports, insurance information, school records, and work visas. Also, pack what small, sellable items you can, such as electronic devices, jewelry, and cameras.
Once you’re out. Contact your child care providers and schools to advise them who is allowed to speak to your children. Avoid places where you used to go with your abuser, such as restaurants, banks, theaters, and shopping centers. Preserve your external safety by locking doors and windows at all times and screening phone calls, since your abuser may attempt to contact you. Steer clear of unsafe locations, such as bars and mutual friends, and connect with someone who can be your safety representative. This is someone you can trust and who can accompany you much of the time, especially at night.
New home. When your situation becomes more stable, you may decide it’s time to buy a new home. A home of your own can add to your security and help you rebuild your life and confidence. As CNBC explains, there are several steps for purchasing a home. You will need to tally your annual income, how much you can afford, evaluate your monthly spending, decide what kind of loan is best for you, and consider the current average annual percentage rate (APR). Once you have your finances figured out, you can use an online search tool to look for homes that fall within your price range where you live.
In addition to budgeting for your home purchase, consider setting aside extra funds for emergencies and unanticipated expenses since there will be moving costs, potential upgrades, and maintenance. As a rule of thumb, budget 10 to 20 percent of your home’s price for repairs and maintenance. For the sake of safety, strongly consider having all the doors rekeyed, and having additional deadbolts installed. Given the circumstances, you want to be as careful as possible. Search for reputable locksmiths in your area, and don’t be afraid to ask about their experience and whether they warranty their work. It also can’t hurt to ask if they’re offering any specials.
New life, new you. Escaping from abuse can be terrifying, but it’s vital. Stay safe, plan carefully and make thoughtful choices. You can begin anew, reframing and rebuilding your life securely.
“You are not the darkness you endured. You are the light that refused to surrender.”
― John Mark Green