More than 10 million American women and men are physically abused by an intimate partner each year. Survivors who escape this difficult environment also struggle to find a safe and secure home post-abuse. Bankrate, a consumer financial services company, put together a guide for those preparing to leave to be in the best situation possible, both financially and mentally.
Before leaving an abusive situation, this is what they suggest:
Start to set aside money for yourself, whether that be extra cash or a new bank account, if possible.
Create an emergency bag with all of your essentials, for example your car keys, cash, medication, and a change of clothes. Be sure to store this bag somewhere where no one else will find it.
Buy a prepaid phone. This will allow you to have secure and discrete conversations.
Collect all of your important documents, including those of others that you are leaving with. This can include your license, passport, birth certificate, etc.
Once you have begun preparing what you need, you can begin to plan how you are going to safely escape. If available, reach out to friends, family, or even law enforcement. Local law enforcement can provide you with a protective order or police escort. You are also entitled to request that local police be on call during your actual departure, in case you need help. Be sure to check with your local law enforcement first, as resources do vary by area.
Most importantly, it is crucial that you plan where you are going to live afterwards.
Here are some suggestions of safe places to stay:
Find a shelter.
Survivors of domestic violence shelters exist across the country. They can even help you secure long-term housing.
Live with loved ones.
If attainable, living with loved ones is a very common source of housing for abuse survivors. However, it is crucial that you are clear about what you need at that time. Be honest about your situation, teach them the warning signs of your abuser, and make a safe space for yourself.
Additionally, here are some tips on how to continue feeling safe in your new home:
Purchase and install a doorbell with a live video and audio feed, for example Ring.
Install security bars on your front door.
Place work boots on your front porch, which implies that a man lives in the home with you, one that could protect you from an unwanted intruder.
Utilize self-timers on your lights so that it always seems as if someone is home.
Adjusting to a more normal life post-abuse isn’t easy and you don’t have to do it alone. Find a counselor who can help you process your trauma. Keep in contact with friends and loved ones that you trust. They can support you in so many ways, especially when it comes to your mental health. Lastly, consider a restraining order if you feel that your abuser is still a threat.
Although it might seem unlikely at first, your sense of safety and security will return. Be patient and be kind to yourself.
Here is a list of additional resources that are available to everyone:
The National Domestic Violence Hotline -- A confidential 24/7 hotline with live chat and support for personal interactive safety plans.
The National Center for Victims of Crime -- Resources, funding and advocacy for survivors of domestic violence.
Domestic Abuse Intervention Services -- 24/7 support for victims, families, and loved ones of domestic violence.
DomesticShelters.org -- Focuses on trauma recovery and healthy lifestyles.
National Sexual Violence Resource Center -- Support and self-care strategies for sexual violence victims.
You can learn more about how Alexis was able to escape her abusive relationship in the book, Redefining Normal: How Two Foster Kids Beat The Odds and Discovered Healing, Happiness and Love available HERE.