Are you in an abusive relationship? Are you planning on leaving your partner for your safety or the safety of your kids? While leaving is likely in your best interests, it's also possible that the period immediately after you leave could be the most dangerous period for you and your children. Often, abusive partners become angered by the announcement of the separation. Your partner may seek you out and could have intense emotions. It's important during this time that you take steps to protect yourself and your children. Here are a few tips to help you do that:
Get organized. You may be tempted to make an impulsive decision and leave after a fight or in the middle of the night. That may even be necessary for your own safety. However, if you can take time to get organized, you'll likely be in a much safer position. The first thing you'll want to do is find some way to save money, and do so in a way that your partner won't recognize. Perhaps save spare change in and have small deductions transferred from your paycheck into your own, separate account.
Also, bring all important documents, including social security numbers, tax information, account statement, and even a journal documenting the abuse. You'll need those documents as you go through the separation process.
Hide yourself. You may be tempted to go stay with your parents or other relatives. However, your partner is also likely to look for you in those places. If possible, try to stay somewhere that they won't think of. Do you have a work friend that your partner doesn't know? If you can save enough, perhaps you can get a short-term lease on an apartment until you can find something more permanent. If necessary, look for a shelter in your area.
Also, make it difficult for your spouse to find you. Get a P.O. box at your local post office so your mail doesn't have your address. Get a new phone number and don't answer calls from numbers you don't recognize. You may even want to find a new job or ask to be transferred to a new work location.
Get legal protection. While divorce takes time to be finalized, there are steps you can take to get quick protection from abuse. For example, even before you leave, you can work with an attorney (like Timothy L Hitchings) to get a protection order. You can then have the local police department serve the order right after you leave.
If you have kids, you may want to take steps to protect them. If your partner abused the children, you may be able to ban him or her from seeing the kids or only seeing them with court supervision. However, it's possible that you may have to share custody. If so, you can arrange neutral drop-offs and pickups at a safe location, such as your local police station.
For more information, meet with a divorce and custody lawyer in your area. They can help you protect yourself and your family.