Safety Tips and Moving Advice for Domestic Violence Survivors

Escaping from an abusive relationship is difficult and dangerous. Getting away quickly and safely is the first and most immediate need, especially if there are children involved. Secondly, there’s the need to find a new place to live where you can be safe from a vengeful ex-partner. Usually, getting away without being hurt or fearing that your life is in danger is the hardest part. Have a plan in place so you know how you’ll escape and what you’ll do once you’re clear of the situation. It’s also important to seek help from people who are close to you and who understand the gravity of the situation.

Getting Away

If you’re being physically abused, it’s essential that you separate from that environment as quickly as possible. Make sure your car is facing the street if it’s in the driveway so you can get away quickly. Keep a list of people you know you can rely on. Write down their numbers in case you aren’t able to use your own smartphone in an emergency.

Protecting children can make getting away twice as difficult. Talk to your kids about how you’ll escape if things get dangerous. Settle on a code or “danger” word, which alerts your kids to leave right away and head for a prearranged destination, whether it’s your car or a neighbor’s house. Your escape plan should include a safe part of the house you can retreat to. It should be a room that has an outside door in case your abuser is able to break in. It should never be a room with objects that could be used as weapons. 

A New Home

Finding a new home requires careful attention to detail. Make certain that your ex-partner isn’t able to find you, wherever you choose to settle. Tell only the people you trust where you’ve moved; make sure no one gives away your new address or contact information. If you’re relocating to another state without a lot of money, try to arrange to stay with friends for a while. The sooner you find work, the sooner you’ll be able to rent a permanent residence.

Your new home should remain as secret as possible. For added security and peace of mind, have a security camera installed with video monitoring and motion detection. Keep your phone number unlisted and don’t use a physical street address; use a post office box instead. Any accounts or credit cards you shared with your former partner should be canceled. Be very careful when using social media and email so that your location can’t be traced.

A New Routine

Be mindful of your situation, and try to think as your ex-partner might. Avoid going to the same locations you used to go together, or which you frequently visit. Consider picking another coffee shop rather than the one you typically patronize. Don’t shop at the same grocery you’ve used for years or take your dry cleaning to the same business. If your abuser starts showing up at your place of employment, you need a restraining order. Be mindful that this is a process and can take time, and that a restraining order might not protect you. If you’re a victim of domestic abuse, talk to friends and family members about how you’ll get away and have a plan so that you’re prepared for as many contingencies as possible. Recently, high-profile domestic violence cases have brought the issue of domestic abuse to the forefront, and many businesses and industries have instituted a zero-tolerance policy. Until more progress is made, the prevalence of the situation requires everyone to remain vigilant and be willing to speak out against abuse.

~ By Janice Miller