Signs You Should Leave, and a Safe Exit Strategy
Every day in America a woman is assaulted by her domestic partner every 15 seconds. It’s important to make yourself aware of the signs you should leave an abusive relationship.
Emotions can cloud clear thinking. You may not feel emotionally ready to leave the person, but ignoring warning signs can have serious consequences. Three women die every day in this country as a direct result of domestic violence. It is important to know and recognize the signs you should leave – and then know the steps to develop a safe exit strategy.
How to Know You Should Leave
Research shows that women often sense when they are in danger. If you feel threatened, don’t ignore that feeling. If someone near you mentions that she fears for her own safety, take her words seriously. Apart from a personal barometer, there are other clear signs you should leave the relationship:
- Abuse occurs even in very public places
- The level of abuse is increasing
- There are overt threats made to harm you or themselves
- The person becomes excessively jealous
- There is easy access to a weapon such as a gun
- The person has problems with mental health or substance abuse
- There is a history of sexual abuse
Even if you’re only starting to realize that it’s time to leave, you need a safe exit plan. If you announce your plans to leave or separate this can make the person feel as though they are losing control of the relationship and that can spark renewed violence. Records reveal that three-quarters of all severe cases of domestic abuse take place after the victim decides to leave.
A Safe Plan for Leaving
So how can you (or someone you love) get safely out of a dangerous relationship? Here are steps to follow:
1. Pick a time to leave that will be safe.
2. Have some place to go right away – a shelter or somewhere the person won’t find you right away. Read more here about the YWCA Shelter for Abused and Homeless Women and Children.
3. Take children and pets with you when you leave or make arrangements for their safekeeping.
4. Have a bag packed in advance that contains important documents like your social security card, passport, birth certificate, health insurance and so on. This bag should also have a spare set of car keys, house keys and some ready cash. Put in a few changes of clothes. When the bag is packed, keep it somewhere outside of the home so the partner will not discover it.
At the YWCA we are here to help domestic violence victims and survivors. We offer shelter to victims of domestic violence and their children, a rape crisis program, professional counseling for victims and the Bliss Manor Housing Program. If you recognize signs you should leave and you realize it’s time for you to go, let us help. If you are a victim in need of immediate assistance, call our 24-hour hotline at 816-232-1225 or 1-800-653-1477. If at any point you feel you are in immediate danger call 911. If you recognize the warning signs in the life of a woman you care about, share what you know and help her to make a safe exit strategy. Knowing the signs and having a plan can be the critical steps needed for a new future without abuse.