No one should have to live in fear, but that’s the reality for millions of men and women who are victims of domestic violence. Unlike other types of violence, domestic violence can seem like a permanent fixture in victims’ lives—especially when they live with their abusers. They’re often dependent on them for money, healthcare support, and childcare, and that can make physically leaving seem daunting at best and impossible at worst.
However, physically leaving a dangerous and violent domestic situation is something that all victims should consider. Not only does physically leaving allow the physical and emotional healing process to begin, but it can also even save their lives and the lives of their children. Unfortunately, many victims want to leave, but they don’t know how or where to start—and they may be afraid of what will happen.
If you’re thinking about leaving a dangerous domestic situation, these tips can help you do so as safely as possible.
Consider all of your options for temporary or permanent residence.
When leaving a dangerous home, the most important step is to locate a place where you and your children (if applicable) can live either temporarily or permanently. Whether it’s the home of a family member, friend, or coworker, a new apartment or house, or even a shelter, it’s essential to know exactly where you’ll go when you put your plans into motion. In addition to identifying a primary residence, you should also have a backup residence in mind in case circumstances change.
Begin gathering important documents.
Establishing yourself and your children in a new home, city, job, and school requires documentation. Before leaving, it’s important to locate and secure documents such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, insurance cards, medical records, vaccination records, financial documents, bills, uncashed checks, and anything else you’ll need when you settle into your new residence.
Research apartments, homes, or shelters as discretely as possible.
If you research new places to live online, always be aware that your browsing history may be saved and later viewed by anyone else who uses your computer, laptop, tablet, or phone. In addition, if you call or email leasing offices, realtors, or shelters, the correspondence also may be viewed by someone else if they have access to your devices or accounts, including your abuser. Clearing your history immediately after browsing, calling, or sending emails and text messages can help you make plans safely.
Get as much cash on hand as possible.
If you don’t have a separate bank account from your abuser, or if they have access to your account, it’s important to be ready to either remove their access by changing your username and password or by having enough cash on hand to afford your daily living expenses after you leave. If you’re uncomfortable carrying cash, consider using preloaded debit cards instead. These can be used like normal debit cards, but they aren’t tied to a specific bank account.
Arrange for movers to arrive on a set day and time.
If you’re moving furniture and other personal belongings to a new residence, it’s important to do so quickly and definitively. Get it done on the day you leave to avoid attracting attention or suspicion. Whether you’re enlisting the help of friends, family members, or a professional moving service, make sure everyone is on the same page about the exact day and time the move will happen and where your items are supposed to go after they’ve been packed.
Avoid returning to your previous residence unless necessary.
When you make a plan to leave and are in a position to act on it, it needs to be a permanent move—especially if you plan on enlisting the help of the legal system via a protective order against your abuser. That’s why it’s so important to arrange and gather everything you need before you move into your new residence. Returning to your previous residence, especially if your abuser still lives there, could result in an extremely dangerous situation for you and your children.
Let Us Help You with the Legal Side of Your Domestic Violence Escape Plan
Physically removing yourself and your children from a dangerous living situation is one of the most important things you’ll ever do for your safety and well-being. But it’s only one step toward your domestic violence solution. Another equally important step is to make your case heard by the California Courts.
The Law Office of André J. Ausseresses, APC is a family law firm that can help you through every step of your domestic violence case against an abuser. We know what you’re going through, and it’s our goal to ensure you’re protected and that you and your children can move forward with your lives. Contact us today for a free initial consultation.
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Helping you through family law matters such as divorce, domestic violence, legal guardianship, child support, child custody, visitation rights, alimony and more.
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Call: (949) 244-8871