The question isn’t why doesn’t she/he just leave- the REAL question is why is she/he being abused?
Some women think that staying in a domestic violence relationship is the best way to keep them safe. The reality is, it isn’t. Leaving an abusive relationship can be dangerous so it is important to have a plan in place when leaving to keep yourself and your children safe. When seeking shelter to leave an abusive situation, locating shelter is one of the first steps to take. Be careful when researching options for shelter because you don’t want to tip off your abuser. Online search history can be detected even if its cleared so if possible, research using technology they can’t access. Make sure you are in a safe space when looking for shelter, somewhere your abuser is not. Whether it’s a friend or family member you trust or a domestic violence shelter or organization, your safety is the number one priority so make sure you can research safely and securely.
Location of the shelter should also be a part of your decision making. Consider if it’s necessary to stay closer to home for your support system of if it is safer to find shelter far away from your abuser. Ultimately, you need to find shelter you can get to safely and without detection from your abuser.
Questions to ask yourself when searching for a shelter include:
- Is space immediately available?
- Will the shelter take children?
- Will the shelter contact Child Protective Services and submit a report?
- Are there counseling services or support groups available?
- Can the shelter assist with a safety or escape plan?
- Is there any employment assistance?
- Is there legal counseling or assistance?
In addition to the questions to choose the appropriate shelter, it’s necessary to have all pertinent information for you to have as smooth a transition as possible and to never have to return to your abuser’s home again. If you can safely do so, pack a bag that can be hidden with clothing and important items to take with you. Those important items include:
- Birth certificates for you and your children
- Social security cards
- List of contacts
- Emergency savings
- Financial information such as credit cards or bank account information
- Legal papers
- Cell phone
Leaving an abusive relationship can be both scary and dangerous but creating a safety plan when possible, can help to make the transition safer and easier. If you are in an abusive relationship, need help finding a shelter or creating a safety plan, please contact Mahogany CARES at 262-993-5444 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233.