Countless people in California and elsewhere are victims of intimate partner violence. You may wish to get away from your abuser, but you might not know how to do it. In fact, escaping a violent partner can be dangerous to you, your children and your pets. It is vital to have an escape plan in place before you attempt to leave an abuser.
As The National Domestic Violence Hotline explains, abusers use numerous tactics of fear, manipulation and coercion to keep their victims under their control. You may endure months or years of thinking the abuse is your fault and that things will get better if you only try harder. This type of emotional manipulation is one method an abuser will use to prevent their victims from leaving. You may also be afraid that your spouse will harm you or your children or come after you if you attempt to leave. Therefore, you will first need to create an escape plan, which can include the following points:
- Documentation and evidence of abuse, such as photographs of injuries, screenshots of threatening text messages and police and medical reports
- Emergency cash set aside in a place unknown to your abuser, preferably outside the home
- Important documents, clothing and other belongings ready to be quickly taken during your escape or stored outside the home
- Support from trusted family members and friends who know about the abuse
When you are ready to leave, you will need to seek assistance from law enforcement by seeking an emergency protective order, which legally prohibits your abuser from approaching or contacting you and your children. You may also want to learn the phone numbers and locations of domestic violence shelters. You have hope when you rely on trusted and experienced allies, but this information should not replace the advice of a lawyer.