The Steps to Finally Leaving an Abusive Spouse

When people hear stories about domestic abuse in a marriage, they may think to themselves: Why didn’t the victim leave sooner? Why would they stay with someone who hurt them? Why would they keep going back? The fact of the matter is that it takes great courage and strength to leave an abusive spouse. Usually, the mistreatment and abuse starts small and then gets worse overtime, leaving the victim feeling mentally trapped and as if they don’t have the resources to get away.

Additionally, the victim spouse may fear for the lives of themselves and their children if they did attempt to escape and failed. Because of these variables, it can take several tries to finally leave an abusive spouse. If you or someone you love is seriously planning an escape strategy for divorcing an abusive spouse, then consider meeting with an attorney and continue reading the following information below:

Developing an Escape Route

The first step is finding resources and people who can help you in your escape plan. These could be people such as an attorney, trusted family members and friends, and domestic abuse support organizations. Gather important documents into a file, including your finances, credit card bills, pay stubs, bank statements, birth certificates, identification, and passports. Create a way for people who are going to support you through this process to contact you that your spouse doesn’t know about.

For instance, you can get a post office box in just your name or a disposable cell phone with prepaid minutes on it. Perhaps you also want to open a bank account or new credit card in your name, but ensuring that statements do not arrive at your home address. 

Finding an Attorney

Find an attorney that has experience handling domestic abuse situations. Someone who is strategic yet compassionate to what you are going through is likely to be the best match. If you do not have money to pay an attorney, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). This organization can get you in touch with an attorney who may volunteer their services or negotiate a way to get payments when you can afford it. 

Leaving Your Home

If you have children, pack a getaway pack for them and yourself. You may even want to choose a safe word with your children, and if they hear you use it, they know to grab their bags and follow you immediately out the door. Your domestic violence lawyer can give you the necessary paperwork to file a restraining order against your spouse.

However, this doesn’t mean that your spouse should know your whereabouts. Particularly violent spouses may try to find you and harm you despite a restraining order being enforced. Have already planned with trusted friends and family about staying at their house or letting just one person know where you are so those who care about you know you aren’t missing. If you are in danger, you need to call law enforcement and have them escort you to a safe shelter. Bring your children with you.