How To Escape An Abusive Husband or Boyfriend
There are many important things you should do if you are an abuse victim preparing to leave your spouse. These include: making copies of important records, papers, and bills; putting these records, some cash, and extra clothes in a safe place or a trusted friend’s house; and leaving when you must. If you can, start your own bank account. Get credit cards in your own name.
If the threat of physical violence is imminent escape with your children as soon as you can.
In such a situation, have an escape plan. Figure out what room in your house is most secure, and has a reasonable exit to the outside. Be prepared to give in to verbal demands in order to buy time. Once you have determined that the moment has come, go immediately. If you see a dangerous situation arising, do whatever you must (short of increasing the physical danger to yourself or your children) to create an opportunity for escape.
Once you are away from the home, go to the nearest shelter, or to the home of someone you trust. Also consider whether your spouse will follow, and if so, where he is likely to look.
Using the Legal System to Escape an Abuser
As I noted above, often a divorce action provokes an abuser. His violence may escalate. Protective or restraining orders can help, but they can also further infuriate the abusive spouse. Law enforcement can’t protect a victim or children around the clock. This is something you should discuss with your attorney.
Remember, when you ask for a protective or restraining order against your spouse, the judge will want as much evidence as possible. Document erratic behavior and any violent actions starting now. You can do this by writing everything down, or keeping a computer file, but be sure it is safe from discovery. Try to recall each detail. Ideally such records should be moved to wherever you are keeping your important papers in case of escape. One way to keep things written down, and retrievable from anywhere, is your email account, as long as you make sure the password is secure, and that you log off whenever you are finished. You can write things and save them as a draft, and there is no risk of losing the hard drive if you have to leave in a hurry. Call others as soon as possible after an incident, and have them keep a record of it. If you have bruises, show them to others, and ask them to make a written note of what they’ve seen. Keep the paperwork on hospital visits. If you have made any 911 calls, get the tapes of them. Your attorney will need as much evidence as possible.
If you are representing yourself in a motion for a restraining order, and you have such proof, let the evidence speak for itself. There is nothing wrong with expressing your fears, but do not say more than you have to against your spouse. If there are witnesses to violence, and/or solid physical evidence (cuts, bruises, broken items), these will be the most convincing factors. Most judges will be impressed more by a victim who simply states the need for protection and then presents compelling evidence. If you have a lawyer, but still have to testify, do so without anger. Present yourself as a victim of deranged behavior, and in need of a sane, sensible solution. Concentrate on the violence of the abuse, rather than on the abuser.
Judges seek to be referees in divorce disputes, not favoring either side. A judge will often resent being manipulated into issuing a restraining order early in the proceedings, especially if the victim later uses it as evidence in the divorce trial. Show that your concerns are only for the safety of yourself and those around you. Demonstrate that the order will be a useful tool in cooling things down and producing a just settlement.