How To Leave A Domestic Violence Relationship
Escaping an abusive relationship is hard, particularly if children are involved. It is however essential for both you and your children!
Deciding to leave a violent relationship is difficult and not a decision that is easy to make. You want to leave but there are many obstacles that make this choice seem near impossible.
The most common hurdle is fear, for you and your child’s safety! You are scared about taking the next steps and the ramifications that may follow; this is completely understandable given your current situation. This is why knowing how to leave a domestic violence relationship safely is crucial.
Must do’s for a safe escape
You have reached the point where you cannot take the abuse anymore but don’t know what to do next. This step by step guide will help you take the first of many steps to your reclaiming independence.
1. Seek legal advice
Before you do anything, seek legal advice. They will be able to tell you exactly what you need to do in order to protect yourself. This is particularly important if children are involved. It isn’t uncommon for the abuser to use your children as leverage to get you to return. If you take the advised steps from your legal team and/or local police, you will not have this concern. They will also be able to put you in touch with emergency accommodation and DV groups. For Legal Aid advice click here for further information.
Get a Domestic Violence Order (commonly known as DVO). While this may aggravate the situation, it is essential. This allows police to keep an eye out and it will also help you should you be required to go to court. For more information on how to obtain a DVO click here.
3. Where will you go?
This is the question that scares most victims into staying. You may have been alienated from your family and friends and feel you have no one to lean on. This is a time of need and you don’t have to do it alone. If you have a good friend or family close by; stay with them until you can sort out alternative accommodation.
If you are living away from relatives; contact your local Salvation Army or other emergency accommodation provider. The Salvos help more than 2000 women escape violent relationships each year by providing them with refuge accommodation and on-going support. The Salvation Army details can be found here: http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/find-help/domestic-violence/.
4. Have a plan
Victims of domestic violence do not always have the luxury of having time to plan when and how they will leave. If you can, make a plan of where you will go and how you will respond to your partner’s calls and persistence.
If you feel your life is in imminent danger, get out now! Don’t leave it until it is too late.
• If possible, start saving little bits of money when you can. This is easier said than done as most abusers know where every dollar is being spent. This is another way they maintain control and make it difficult for you to leave. For those fleeing and saving isn’t possible, the government offers crisis payments to those who are planning to or have left violent relationships. See more information here.
• Open up a bank account in your name only, with another bank you don’t use together. This eliminates any chance of your partner getting your personal details, including address or money.
• Call your bank and put a hold on all home loan redraws. While this is not something you would think of doing in the moment of leaving, it is smart for long term.
6. Privacy and safety
• Cancel your childcare and change schools if possible. This is to ensure your partner does not come and take the children out of school as a way to regain control.
• Change passwords and privacy settings on everything!
Far too many people suffer from domestic violence and the number of sufferers is only rising. The stats shown below from the Australian Bureau of Statistics are just terrifying.
Fleeing a domestic violence relationship takes strength, bravery and patience. This is why good support is essential. Please remember that regardless what you are told; it is not your fault and you are not to blame!
For support and domestic violence helplines see the numbers below.
If your life in immediate danger call – 000
National Domestic Violence (24 hours): 1800 737 732
Lifeline: 131 114
• QLD – Domestic Violence Telephone Service – 1800 811 811
• NSW – Domestic Violence Line – 1800 65 64 63
• VIC – safe steps Family Violence Response Centre – 1800 015 188
• ACT – Domestic Violence Crisis Service – 02 6280 0900
• SA – Domestic Violence Helpline – 1300 782 200
• WA – Women’s Domestic Violence Helpline – 1800007 339 & Crisis Care – 1800 199 00808
• NT – Domestic Violence Crisis Line – 1800 019 116
• TAS – Family Violence Counselling and Support Service – 1800 608 122 or Family Violence Response & Referral – 1800 633 937
For more helplines visit http://www.whiteribbon.org.au/finding-help.
*Disclaimer: I am not qualified to advise you on what to do or give legal assistance in your situation, I can only comment on my own personal experience and those close to me. Please call one of the helplines or seek legal advice before taking action.