It may have been hard to make the decision to leave an abusive relationship, but you won’t feel that way forever. In just a short while, you want to be strong and happy on your own, but right now, you need guidance and help. You need to know: what do you need to do before you can leave your abuser for good?

  • Build a small, strong network. Make a list of people you can contact for help, making sure that none of them will tell your partner—or anyone else. Make a plan of when to leave, and establish a "code word" that you will use if you have been injured or need them to call the police. Ask if they can get you a cell phone that your partner does not know the number to.
  • Plan an emergency exit. If you partner turns violent before you can make your planned escape, decide where you will run in an emergency. Avoid running into the house and hiding—always seek out an exit into the nearest public place. Keep an emergency car key on you at all times.
  • Take evidence. When you pack a bag to leave, make sure you take all of your ID and paperwork with you—including bank records, passports, and other ways your ex could find you. Take any evidence you have saved about past abuse, such as pictures of injuries or threatening messages.

What Do I Do Now?

Unfortunately, it’s not likely to be over the minute you leave the house. Your abuser may attempt to initiate contact with you by calling or by talking to your family and friends. He may even seem apologetic, or saddened by your decision to leave—even beg you to come back. You will likely be vulnerable in the coming months, and it is a good idea to protect yourself as much as you can by:

  • Phone and internet screening. It’s a good idea to change your phone number, but if you do not have another phone available, screen all calls and do not pick up if the abuser calls you. Delete him from your social media accounts and make sure he cannot see any of your online activities or profiles.
  • Tell everyone. Notify your coworkers and school contacts that you are no longer in a relationship with your ex, and any attempt he makes to contact you will be unwelcome. Do not give out your new address unless it is to a confidential source such as a private bank account, work payroll, etc.
  • Vary your routine. If your abuser cannot reach you by phone, he may attempt to track you down at work or at the places you normally frequent. Ask your boss if you can take an alternate shift or work from home so that your ex cannot reach you easily, and avoid situations where you are alone.
  • Plan again. Plan out what you will say when you are confronted by your abusive ex, and what specific actions you will take to be safe.
  • Get a protection order. There are many different types of protection orders available for abused partners in Washington State that can make it illegal for your ex to initiate contact with you.

To find out more about protection orders and safe places where abused partners may stay in WA, click the related links on this page or call us today so we can contact you privately.

Molly B. Kenny
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Divorce and Child Custody Attorney Serving Bellevue and Seattle Washington