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Escaping An Abuser is Not Easy But it is Possible

Feb 16, 2023
Core Spirit member since Feb 13, 2023
Reading time 5 min.

Photo by Susan Wilkinson on Unsplash

Families with violence in the home almost always have long-term secrets. When I was growing up, the motto was, ‘whatever happens in this house stays in this house.’ Any violence in the family was considered a secret or family business.

When a person decides to leave such a situation, their leaving could likely cost them their lives. It is a brave decision and one not made lightly.

An intimate partner in one year kills approximately 4400 women. Of that number, 50%-75% are killed by an intimate partner at the point of separation from the abuser. There is increased danger at this point. (Cynthia Hill, director of HBO’s Private Violence documentary).That means that the victim must be cautious and secretive.

The Safety Plan (The Domestic Violence Survival Workbook)

It is a safety plan that will keep you safe. There is no room for mistakes.

The plan will cover several components. First, there are specific numbers you need to memorize or keep close to you.

The numbers:
1. Police 911
2. Your local Domestic Violence Office 24-hour crisis line is 844–237–2331
3. Domestic Violence Hotline 800–799–7233
4. At least two close friends who know your situation.
5. At least three relatives who know your situation and have transportation.

Memorized numbers leave nothing for the abuser to find. These numbers will be necessary for your safety.

Neighbors and Friends

All of the people listed above are part of your support group. It is difficult to leave, and leaving without support may be impossible.
Try to cultivate a friendship with a close neighbor or friend. Share with them what you are going through and ask for their support. If they live nearby, it is a good chance they will call the police should they hear a disturbance. Have the neighbor and a close friend exchange numbers for added support.

Emergency Exit

What would you do if your abuser caught you and you were trying to escape? It would be best if you thought this through.
If possible, secure possession of a weapon to protect yourself. Have a place to go to where you will be safe. Know how you will get there. Support from family and friends is crucial at this point.

Important Items to Take

Everything on this list may not apply to you. I know it probably sounds crazy to put your children on the list. But you want to make sure your children are safe during the move. And they take priority.
Your children
Credit cards
Medical records, Birth Certificates
School records
Immigration documents.
Items for children
Social Security Cards
Welfare documents
Driver’s License
Insurance papers
If you have children, decide where they will be during the move. Being alone during the move is safer and better.

Emergency Protection Order (EPO)

I would recommend getting an EPO on the abuser. An EPO is only a piece of paper and cannot save lives, but being clever might. Carry your EPO at all times.

My Escape

The best way to leave is by planning your move just as you would if you were in a normal situation. I did not indicate that anything was wrong.
I determined where my children and I would move to. It was my 5th time leaving, and it usually takes several times of going before the victim leaves for good.

I was fortunate enough to have a good job. I made a two-week plan of escape.

I went to the local police department and obtained an EPO on my abuser.

First, I found a 2-bedroom apartment close to a school for my children. It was on a bus line, so I could get back and forth to work.
I was upfront with the landlord about my situation. She became another support source for me, allowing me to make payments for the deposit.

The landlord gave me an apartment that she could see from her office. She wrote down a description of his van and license plate number.
I felt peaceful and strengthened because I believed God was with me. Some negative people kept telling me he would kill me if I tried to leave.
But my reply was, “death would be a welcome change.” I was no longer afraid to die and believed in my heart that God was with me.

At home, I began gathering things I needed to take and hid them in the linen closet. My husband never looked in there for anything.

I had a relationship with a moving company because of my job, and I secured their services.

The night before the move, I performed my best, and it was better than being raped. And yes, a husband can rape his wife.

The morning of the move, I told my sons that I would pick them up from school a little early, and I still needed to tell them about the move.

When the movers arrived, I told them they had 30 minutes. I did not want to be there if my husband came home on his break. I had two co-workers with me who supported me.

I only took the children’s beds, my dining room set, and all our clothes. The move was completed, and we were pulling out of the driveway. The headache I had for two weeks was gone. October 16, 1990, was one of the best days of my life.

I picked my children up from school. We got in the car, and I told them we would live in a new place. But their father would not be coming with us. They were excited to see their new home.I searched their faces. They told me it was okay if he did not come with us because he was too mean.

He did not take me leaving well. That was what I expected. I took a leave of absence from work and took the children out of school for a few days, a I didn’t want to deal with him coming to my job.

The last time I left before the final move, I spent six months in a women’s and children’s center. He could not come and get me as he had before, and my time there gave me the courage to move away for good finally.

But I found that leaving is not the end, it is the beginning. And some things last forever.

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