If you are reading this right now, chances are you or someone you care about is currently looking was of escaping an abusive marriage.
Fortunately, there are many ways, or as I would call them ‘safe escape strategies’ that will prepare you and enable you to leave a toxic and abusive marriage or a relationship. Whether it is physical or emotional abuse, or both, which is usually the case, no one should be living in such an environment, and if you are wondering whether the abuse is your fault, the answer is no.
Moreover, if you are hoping that the abuse will stop, it probably won’t. Abusive people stay that way unless they undergo some drastic changes.
So, please, continue reading this article for a few strategies and escape plans that you can use to start feeling empowered again and finally leave the unfortunate situation that is your abusive marriage.
Strategies to use when escaping an abusive marriage.
Acknowledge the abuse
Many victims of abuse in relationship or marriage tend to neglect the fact that they are even being abused. The abuse doesn’t necessarily have to be physical, as in the majority of cases it is rather emotional or psychological. So, in order to take the first step, you need to discern between normal behavior and abusive behavior. If your spouse or partner is continually yelling, calling you names, insulting you, cursing at you, threatening or forcing into non-consensual intercourse, chances are you are experiencing abuse. Not to mention the physical traits of violence, like bruises and constant physical attacks for whatever reasons.
At this point, it is important to ask yourself a few crucial questions; are you always worried or scared that your actions might trigger your partner into abuse? Are you avoiding your friends and family because of bruises and other signs of beating? Are you avoiding people because your spouse doesn’t allow you to see anyone? If your answers were positive, then it is time to acknowledge the abuse as existent.
Talk to someone you trust
Once you have acknowledged the abuse, it is time to take the first and most important step; you need to talk to someone you trust. Reach out to a friend, a family member, a co-worker or any other person that you think can help you. It is important to share with them what is happening in your marriage and discuss the ways you can stay safe during the period in which you are about to leave the marriage.
Fortunately, there are also numerous organizations that can help people of your situation or similar. So, if you don’t think that talking to people in your immediate surroundings won’t help, make sure to reach out to these organizations and ask for help. If you are trying to reach out for help online, make sure to use a computer or device that is safe and not monitored easily. It is essential to take precautions in order not to jeopardize your safety while in this marriage.
Create an escape plan
After reaching out to people and talking to them, make sure to start working on an escape plan; this means that it is finally time to leave. The escape plan should outline every single step of the escape; from the time you are going to leave to the place where you will go, as well as the things you will bring with you. Make sure to think about financial support, health care and other needs that you might struggle with, especially if you have children. There are many financial and health support options you can use by contacting local shelters and safe houses.
At this point, you should also be aware of your risk. The part in which you actually leave, or are trying to escape an ongoing abusive situation is probably the most dangerous one, so you need to understand the risks that involve separation from an abusive spouse. If you think that there might be a severe outcome, make sure to contact a shelter or a local police station, even in advance, so they are already familiar with the situation.
If you are not sure about the possible outcome of your escape plan, make sure to address a danger assessment tool the victims of abuse use to determine the risk of violence.
Other action items you may find useful:
- Contact a family lawyer experienced in domestic violence; ask for advice and the safest way to leave the marriage
- Get a civil temporary restraining order and/or criminal restraining order; you can get assistance from your lawyer, domestic violence counselor or the local police department
- Gather important documents before you leave; birth certificate, driver’s license, ID, passport, social security card, health insurance card or anything else that you may use and find helpful once you leave
- Gather money, checkbooks, credit cards, bank card, and statements
- Gather your personal stuff like clothing, jewelry, shoes, etc.
- Gather your children’s stuff; clothing, toys, etc.
- Get a secret cell phone and an undisclosed number
- Get a new post office box
- Copy and file copies of restraining orders to your children’s school
- Discuss the situation with your employer and express the need to keep your further information confidential
Create a support system and move on
Now that you are finally safe, make sure to surround yourself with people you love, care about and feel safe around. At this point, you need to block away from your abuser once and for all. If you have children, focus on their schooling and providing them with a normal life without violence and torture. Allow people to help you as well; many victims of abuse tend to become closed and not open to any help as they may feel bad and responsible for the ‘failure’ of their marriage. Well, you should know that none of this is your fault and you need help to get back on your feet, so allow people in your life.
Moving on might not be easy, but with a support system and the good-intended people surrounding you, it is time to welcome the happier and brighter chapter of your life. You can learn some life hacks for studying that may distract you from a hard situation you are in.
Eveline Heston is a freelance writer who is educated on a wide variety of topics, such as psychology, literature, education, and many more. She is mostly interested in researching relationship psychology.