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Every divorce has its complications, but ending an abusive marriage can be particularly difficult. The fundamental purpose of abuse is to retain control over the victim. If your spouse abuses you, they may also try to make getting a divorce harder to prevent you from leaving.
Despite this, leaving an abusive spouse is one of the best things you can do for yourself. It’s even more important if you have children. Once you have divorced your abuser, you can start building a safe, secure, and satisfying life.
If you want to leave, you should get help. Keep reading to learn effective strategies and solutions to leave an abusive spouse safely.
How to End Your Abusive Marriage Safely
There are many forms of domestic abuse. Your spouse may subject you to verbal, emotional, financial, sexual, or physical abuse to control you. All these abusive actions are harmful, and you should not have to put up with them.
It’s important to note that attempting to leave an abusive spouse can cause them to escalate their behavior. In fact, the weeks and months immediately after leaving an abusive partner are the most dangerous part of the relationship. When you’re getting ready to leave, it’s best to prioritize your safety above everything else. Here’s how you can end your relationship without putting yourself at risk.
Secure Your Online Presence
The first step to getting away from an abuser is reclaiming control of your online presence. Many abusers restrict their victims’ access to other people by monitoring their internet and phone use. If you can, get a second cellphone and store it somewhere your spouse will not find it. Otherwise, use public or library computers to communicate with people as you plan to leave.
Before you leave, spend time documenting the ways your partner harms you. Record or write down verbal and emotional abuse. Save financial documents that show how they control your access to money. Take pictures of any injuries they give you. This is crucial evidence that can be used in court to support your request for protection.
Make an Escape Plan
Next, start planning how you are going to leave. Having a plan makes it more likely that you do not need to return when you leave.
An escape plan consists of three essential features:
- Where you will go to stay safe: Identify local shelters, domestic violence resources, or friends and family who will allow you to stay with them until your situation is stable.
- What you will do to support yourself: Start saving cash or depositing funds in an account your spouse cannot access. If that’s not possible, many domestic violence resources offer support for people leaving abusive situations. If you have a job, you can also request to work from home or take sick or vacation leave.
- Who will help you stay independent: Your abuser may lie to people you know about your situation. Identify people who believe you about the abuse and will not reveal your plans to your spouse. These people can help you coordinate places to stay and hold onto critical items for you.
Pack a Get-Out Bag
Next, start collecting critical items. The Safety Packing List identifies some of the most important things you’ll want to bring with you, including your identification documents, important medications, a phone, a source of funds, and basics like a change of clothes for you and your children. If you can, store these items somewhere safe, such as at your workplace or with a trusted friend. Otherwise, identify what you need and where it’s kept so you can grab everything quickly when you decide to go.
Get a Divorce Lawyer
Finally, consult with a qualified divorce and domestic violence attorney. Experienced lawyers will understand the risks you face and help you develop a plan. They will walk you through the process of filing for a restraining order and getting other legal protective measures in addition to your divorce.
Safely Start Your New Life with Bergman Family Law
You deserve to live free from fear or coercion. If your spouse is abusing you, leaving is an option. Get the help you need to escape abuse by contacting the qualified divorce attorney at Bergman Family Law.
We will help you determine your legal options and find a safe way to file for divorce and a restraining order. Get in touch today to learn how we can help.