Over the course of your marriage, your spouse may have isolated you from friends and family and made countless false promises that kept you from leaving. Still, you’ve come to realize that you deserve a life free from any form of abuse. It’s just that the idea of leaving and divorcing your spouse, especially with so many uncertainties, can be very frightening.
Deciding to leave is courageous but it’s just the first step. Careful preparation is crucial if you want to divorce your abusive spouse safely. This process, though it will demand some time and patience, may bring you closer to freedom and a better life.
Document the abuse
Evidence of domestic violence is vital in securing court protection and moving your divorce proceedings along. Such evidence might include medical reports of injuries, photos of damaged household items, recordings of 911 calls and a personal diary chronicling instances of abuse.
Make a plan
Planning how you leave involves considering your destination, route, contacts and method of communication. Consider sharing your plans with someone you trust can provide immediate assistance when you’re ready to leave.
Given the unpredictability of the situation, you’ll want to be prepared to put your plan into action at any moment. You never know when you’ll have the opportunity to leave, whether that’s while your spouse is sleeping or away at work.
Pack a bag
Start listing and collecting essential items you might need when you go. Among these things are a change of clothes, identification and financial documents, medicines, cash and evidence of abuse. Store them in an emergency to-go bag somewhere discreet but accessible enough to grab in case you need to leave quickly.
Find someone you trust
Leaving an abusive marriage is difficult, even if you’re well-prepared. Fear of upsetting your spouse or fear of retaliation may prevent you from leaving.
If you feel uncertain about what steps to take, know that you’re not alone. There are legal resources available to help protect you.