Making an exit plan

Before you take the courageous step to remove yourself from an abusive relationship, make sure you have a plan in place to ensure your safety.

Follow these steps to increase your chances of a safe exit:

  1. Make sure you know the phone number of a local battered women’s shelter.
  2. Let the people close to you know your situation. Develop a code you can text if you’re in need or a signal like turning off your porch light if there is trouble.
  3. If you become injured, go to the doctor and report it. Ask to have your visit documented.
  4. Keep a journal of all abusive behaviors your partner displays. Also, hold onto any evidence of abuse (like pictures of wounds).
  5. If you have children, plan WITH them. Show them where they can go if there is trouble, and tell them that their #1 priority is to keep themselves safe, not you.
  6. Have an escape plan. Know where you will go and how you will get there. Keep your car fueled, backed into the driveway and the driver’s door unlocked so you can escape quickly. Also, hide an extra set of keys in a place that only you know about.
  7. Save money. Don’t keep it in an account that your partner can access, instead ask friends or family to hold onto it for you.
  8. Keep a bag packed. Include extra keys, IDS, car papers, birth certificates, Social Security numbers, credit cards, marriage license, clothing, shoes, medication, banking information, money, and anything else that is important to you. Keep this bag with someone you trust. Try to avoid storing it at your next-door neighbor’s house, with close family, or mutual friends.
  9. Gather important phone numbers into one place to take with you. If you have time, you could also consider taking other important documents such as passports or visas, property paperwork, medical records, your kid’s school and immunization records, insurance information, and any valuables or precious keepsakes.
  10. Be aware of your abuser’s schedule and know when you will have safe times to leave.
  11. Be careful not to leave a trail. If you reached out for help over the internet, clear your browser history, delete emails, and clear your cache. If you called for help, dial another number directly after – this way your tracks are covered if your abuser hits redial.
  12. Throw them off with a false trail. Call places to stay, real-estate agents, or schools in an area at minimum 6 hours away from where you plan to run to.

After Successfully Leaving:

If the Abuser is leaving, and you have gotten a restraining order:

  • Immediately after the abuser leaves change your locks and phone number.
  • Change your hours of work (if possible) and your route to work.
  • Change the route to your child’s school, or even change schools.
  • Always keep a copy (certified) of the restraining order with you.
  • Inform your neighbors, employer, and friends that you have a restraining order in effect.
  • Give copies of the restraining order, and a photograph of the offender to your employer, school officials, and neighbors.
  • Contact the police to enforce the order.

If you are the one leaving:

  • Think about using a post office box, or a friend’s house to get your mail delivered to. Be very careful where, and to whom, you give your address and number.
  • If possible, change your work hours.
  • Tell your child’s school about the situation, or switch schools.
  • Reschedule all appointments that your abuser is aware of.
  • Find new places to hang out or shop.
  • Tell your neighbors and request that – if they suspect you are in danger – they call the police.
  • Talk to people that you trust about what you are going through.
  • Install extra security precautions. Replace wooden doors with metal ones, get a security system or motion activated lighting.
  • Let the people who care for your children know who can pick them up. Tell them about your family situation, and give them a copy of the restraining order.
  • Call the phone company. Ask that your number become blocked so that no one can get your number unless you give it to them. Also, make sure you have caller ID.

For more information on how to get help click here.

If you are in danger and need help right away, see a list of organizations you can call here.

Remember to put the safety of you and your children first. If someone is standing in the way of that goal, make a plan and get out!