Safety Planning – How to Exit your Relationship
Are you determined to take back your power? Have you made that decision to leave? Before you do make sure you read my 12 tips to leave a relationship safely before you act. The most important thing you need to consider is yours and your children’s emotional and physical safety. Statistics tell us that you are most in danger of being harmed or killed when you leave or have left your partner.
When you realise you have been in an abusive relationship you can become determined to take back your power. Suddenly you realise that all those moments when your partner has caused you to feel crazy, and second guess yourself are not about you they are about him.
It can make you feel like you want to act – and act now. You might even feel the urge to tell him. You want to be heard, you want to be understood, and most of all you want him to know that you get it, not only that, you won’t take it anymore.
This feeling that you want to get out. This desire to reassert yourself. This is the signal you need to slow down and be mindful to keep yourself safe.
Why? because research tells us that women are most in danger of being harmed or killed when they take steps to leave, more so than at any other time in an abusive relationship.
My strongest advice to you is to find a counsellor or support group that specialises in family violence to help you talk through your specific situation and set up a plan.
Here are my 12 Tips to keep yourself both physically and emotionally safe when you exit a relationship:
- Tell a trusted friend or family member that you are planning to leave and keep them in the loop as you progress with your preparations to leave. It can be helpful to have a code word or phrase that you can use when you speak to this person, so they know you are in trouble. When they hear the code word, they can call the police immediately on your behalf. I had a client once whose special word was red cordial. All she had to do was use that word in a sentence with her friend as they talked about the children for her friend to know she should call 000. Make sure your location, where you plan to move, is kept secret. Only tell those people who you know will not reveal your location and understand the gravity of your situation.
- Ask a friend if they will hold items for you until you leave. Think about objects that are irreplaceable such as photographs and mementoes. If you have to leave suddenly, you might have to leave these items behind, and I have had clients who never get children’s baby photographs back. Think about how you could scan these so that you don’t have to leave without them.
- If you have a trusted neighbour tell them that you are unsafe and planning to leave your partner. Have an agreement with them that if they hear any commotion that they should call the police. By doing this, you have an extra layer of safety around you. This way you know the police will be called even if you cannot reach out for help.
- Ensure you have copies of both yours and your children’s identity documents such as birth certificates or passports. It is impossible to open a bank account or even send your children to school without these documents. Organise certified copies that you can store at another location.
- You need to have money. Have some cash stored elsewhere, so you have money available. Open a bank account in your own name so that if bank accounts are frozen, you still have money available to you. Make sure that the bank does not send any correspondence to you at home so that the bank account remains a secret from your partner.
- Pack a bag in case you need to leave in a hurry. Have a change of clothes for both yourself and children. Pack money, a credit card, snacks, copies of car keys or house keys, a spare prepaid mobile phone and copies of any important documents you might need. Hide this bag at home or keep it at a friends house, in case you need to grab it and run.
- Try to park your car so you can’t be boxed in at home. The common mistake many girls make is that they park their car first in the drive, and then their partner parks behind them and when they want to leave, they can’t.
- Have a meeting with the family violence team at your local police station. Explain your situation, what is happening in the relationship and your plans to leave. If you brief the police, you can ask for a complaint/case number, and you have started to create a history with them. This is very important if you situation escalates and you need proof of reaching out for help.
- Program all emergency numbers into your mobile so you can dial them with one touch. This means the numbers of trusted friends, family and the police. If you are in trouble and you call 000 if the line is open, especially if you scream as you throw the mobile phone they must attend. This is important to know as many women have their mobiles snatched away from them.
- Check your computer and mobile phone for any software that could have been secretly loaded to monitor your emails or track your whereabouts. If in doubt go to a computer service centre and ask them to check your computer for what is on it. If you put your devices into aeroplane mode, they cannot be tracked, no matter what software is present – do this until you have time to have them checked. Check your car, handbag even children’s toys and schoolbags for tracking devices. These can be small and very well concealed.
- Ensure you tell you child’s teacher and relevant people at your child’s school so they can take appropriate steps to ensure intervention orders and custody arrangements are adhered to
- Please reach out to a family violence refuge for help and support. You need to have some experts around you supporting you to make a safe exit from a highly dangerous man.
It can be very difficult to reach out to other people when you realise that you are in an abusive relationship. There is the embarrassment “how could I have let this happen to me?” and the disappointment and confusion that someone who promises to love you has treated you this way. Maybe you just hate the thought of being vulnerable and sharing your personal business with others. Maybe you just want it all to go away and hope that each time he abuses you and says he is sorry that he will mean it this time.
Remember safety always comes first, if you feel uncertain as to how violent your partner might be towards you, always err on the side of caution. This means reaching out to others for help, including the police. I have seen so many women who resisted and resisted getting the police involved when their partner became violent, only to find they had absolutely no proof of any incidents. In court, it was her word against his.
If you would like some support from my community head over to Facebook Relationships and Dating Advice for Women or you can book an appointment with me on my website elizabethroebuckjones.com/appointment to discuss. All appointments are strictly confidential. https://elizabethroebuckjones.com/appointment/
Support numbers that you can phone for referral are:
WIRE (The Women’s Information and Referral Exchange) 1300 134 130
1800Respect 1800 737 732
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