It’s never easy to end a relationship. But the decision is even harder and more complicated when your partner is hurting you either physically or emotionally. Abuse can shake your confidence and sense of self like nothing else can.
Even in the darkest times, it’s important to remember that no one deserves to be abused, ever. If you’re feeling afraid, trapped and hopeless, know that you’re not alone. A fresh start is possible if you want to end your relationship, and there are people who will help you find it — confidentially, safely and at your own pace. Whatever you decide, you deserve to understand your options and, above all, keep yourself safe.
Here are a few tips and resources for creating a safety plan to help you make a fresh start:
- Connect with a domestic abuse victim advocate. The Family Advocacy Program office on your installation can put you in touch with a victim advocate, or you can find a victim advocate in your civilian community. Ask about your options for reporting domestic abuse and how to find a safe place to go. You can remain anonymous if you aren't quite ready to share your story.
- Talk with a trusted friend or relative. Find someone you can trust, and establish a code word or signal so they'll know if and when they need to call for help. You can also stash a change of clothing for yourself and your children at your friend's house, along with anything else you might need to make a quick exit.
- Gather important documents. Keep important documents like birth certificates, health insurance cards, checkbook, important phone numbers and addresses, and your driver's license in one place for easy access. Save some money. Save a secret fund of cash in case you won't have access to your shared accounts, or open a new account in your name only.
- Talk with your children. Make sure your children know how and when to call 911, if necessary. Pick a safe place they can go if they need to escape quickly, like a neighbor's house. Depending on your child's age, you may or may not want to discuss your plans to leave.
- Find a safe place to go. Ideally, your safe place will be somewhere your abuser can't find you. A domestic abuse victim advocate can talk with you about shelters or other local places that provide a safe haven.
- Get a restraining order or military protective order. This will make it illegal for your abuser to enter your home or workplace, or to contact your children. You can also give a copy to your children's school or child care providers so they'll know who does and doesn't have permission to pick up your children.
- Save documentation. The more documentation you have, the stronger the case against your abuser will be if you decide to take legal action. Save any threatening messages or emails, and take pictures of any physical injuries you might have.
You deserve to feel safe, loved and protected — and know that you're not alone. There are resources available to help you if you're ready to end an abusive relationship.