We have a guest blogger this week, Mark Harris!
Now that domestic violence spillover is the fastest growing category of workplace violence, sometimes it seems like there’s just no escape. Additionally, making the decision to leave an abusive relationship can be incredibly scary – especially if there are children involved. The good news is that people make it out of domestic abuse situations every day, going on to lead happy, healthy lives far away from their abusers.
Of course, leaving is much easier said than done. If you are not facing an emergency situation and you have time to plan ahead, start mapping out your escape route and exploring your housing options. Here are some tips to help you get started.
Planning Your Exit
Planning a safe escape from your abuser is important for protecting yourself (and your children, if there are any). Make sure you can get out of the house at any time of day if you sense that your abuser is becoming upset or angry. Come up with some believable excuses to leave so you’re ready with an explanation when the need arises. When an argument starts, try to head to a room with an exit, like the kitchen or living room, so you can get out quickly if need be.
A friend, family member, or neighbor can help you get away safely in an emergency situation. Beforehand, establish a safe word that will let others know you’re in danger and need help. You could coach them to call the police or pull their car up beside your house so you can jump in. You may also want to call a domestic violence hotline for help figuring out your next steps. Keep in mind that it’s fairly easy for someone to install a surveillance app onto a smartphone. Consider getting a cheap phone that your abuser doesn’t know about so you can use it to text, make calls, and plan your escape.
DomesticShelters.org recommends keeping a bag packed and ready to go, stored in a place where your abuser won’t find it. Include some emergency cash, extra clothing, phone numbers, and important documents like your passport and credit cards. When the time comes to leave, plan to stay somewhere safe until you can find a new place to call home. Ideally, this safe place would be unknown to your abuser so they can’t show up looking for you. If you don’t feel safe at a friend or family member’s home, consider renting a vacation home in the area or staying at a local shelter.
Finding Your New Home
If you’re looking to buy a home, get in touch with a real estate agent who can help you find homes for sale in your desired location. Remember to account for your annual income, monthly spending, down payment amount, and the current average APR. Since finances are a common issue for domestic abuse survivors, you may want to work with a financial advisor who can help you explore your loan options. If purchasing a home isn’t within your means right now, consider renting. There are many apartments and homes for rent in the Scottsdale area at a variety of price points.
Navigating a move after escaping an abusive home can be tough. Moving day is particularly dangerous. Fortunately, some moving companies include domestic violence policies to help domestic abuse survivors reconnect with their belongings safely. Look for a moving company with this policy in place to ensure they will take every precaution to protect your privacy.
Securing your new home is the last thing you need to do before you can move on with your life. It’s important that you feel safe in your new space! Get a new phone number, change the passwords on all of your online accounts, and have all your packages and letters delivered to a local P.O. box so you can limit who has access to your new address. You may also want to get a restraining order as an added layer of protection.
Deciding to leave a domestic abuse situation isn’t easy. If you’re not ready to leave just yet, use this time to plan your escape. Look for support from friends, family, and local agencies, start putting some cash aside, and begin looking for a new home. You have all the strength you need to move away from abuse and build a wonderful new life for yourself!
Listen to The Wounds of the Faithful podcast for stories and advice on how to heal and thrive.
Mark is one of five “explorers” at Awareness Toolkits, who dig deep to find info for the creation of toolkits (articles, resource links, tips, guides, etc.) for those looking to spread awareness about specific subjects.
Mark’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org