While divorce often signifies the start of a new life, it’s important that you learn how to stay safe during this time, particularly if you are leaving an abusive relationship. Even when a spouse has never exerted any type of physical aggression, they may “snap” because of the divorce and situation.
In these types of situations, it is up to you to protect yourself and your children. While many may automatically think they need to get a gun and gun safe, there are other steps you can take to protect yourself as well. Keep reading to learn what some of those steps are.
Tips on How to Stay Safe During Divorce
Protect Your Important Documents
Things like mortgages, life insurance policies, social security numbers, and passports need to be stored in a neutral, safe location. It is also smart to make copies of these documents and keep them in a different location.
If you leave an abusive situation, having a safe and easy-to-access location for your important documents is essential. You may even want to give copies to trusted family members or friends. If you have created a will, be sure it is updated and that your ex-spouse is removed (if they were listed as the beneficiary). Any valuable items and mementos should also be stored in a safe location to ensure your spouse is unable to find or get to them.
Cancel All Joint Accounts or Cards
If you and your spouse have joint cards or bank accounts, make sure you cancel them to prevent any type of malicious activity that could impact your credit score. It is recommended that you close your private accounts open new ones at a different bank to ensure a violent ex-spouse does not discover them.
Have the Law on Your Side
Talking to an attorney can help you deal with the potential challenges and complications that may occur during the divorce process. You should make sure you schedule a consultation before agreeing to sign anything. With a professional divorce lawyer, you will know what options you have to keep yourself and your children safe. In many cases, the attorney can help you file a restraining order or take other preventative steps to ensure your ex does not cause you harm in any way during or after the divorce.
Listen to Other Peoples’ Experiences
If you want to learn how to stay safe during and after a divorce, one of the best things you can do is listen to people who have been through it. Once you go through it yourself, you can speak out and talk about it. This is particularly beneficial if you are leaving an abusive relationship. You want to seek and secure all the support possible. If you don’t let anyone know what is going on, they can’t provide the support you need.
It is also a good way to ensure your privacy. If you let your coworkers, friends, and neighbors know that you are going through a divorce and that you and your ex are no longer living together, they can watch for red flags. This includes things like if your ex goes through your mail or shows up at your office.
Go to Counseling or Therapy
You should understand that you are not alone. You are also not at fault when leaving a dangerous or abusive situation. Counseling and therapy can help you confront your feelings and help you work through them in a productive manner. It can also help you meet people who have been in the same or similar situations in the past. Having someone to talk to who has been in your shoes can be invaluable.
Create a Safety Plan
When you begin thinking about leaving an abusive marriage, you should start to create a long-term safety plan right away. By doing this, you will have the tools and resources necessary to survive and stay safe when you are finally ready to leave or file for divorce. One of the best things you can do is find somewhere safe to go. Along with family and friends’ houses, you can also choose a women’s shelter, which provides refuge for women leaving abusive and dangerous relationships.
Keep in mind that in many situations, it is the abuser who controls the finances. As a result, it can be challenging to save money to have somewhere to go. They may even siphon money, which means you have to learn to be resourceful. For example, request cash back when paying for groceries. This will ensure you are prepared to handle life once you leave.
When you are ready to file for divorce, taking the right steps is essential. Knowing how to stay safe and protect yourself is the best way to ensure you and your children are safe from harm and that you can have the new beginning you were hoping for.