How to Escape (or Help Someone Else Escape) Domestic Violence

This post is a part of our guide series to support anyone who may be experiencing domestic violence or has questions on what they should do:

What is Domestic Violence?
Who Commits Domestic Violence and Why?
What are the Signs and Symptoms of Domestic Violence?
How to Handle & Deal with Domestic Violence
How to Escape (or Help Someone Else Escape) Domestic Violence
How to Heal and Recover from Domestic Violence
What Impacts Does Domestic Violence Have on Victims and Their Family/Friends?
How to report Domestic Violence (and Who to Report it to)
How is Domestic Violence Proven in Court?
Punishment and Sentencing for Violent Domestic Abuse
How can Domestic Violence be Prevented?
What Effects Does Domestic Violence Have on Wider Society?
Domestic Violence Data & Statistics
Domestic Violence Helplines, Support & Further Reading

Escaping a relationship where Domestic Violence is present is the first step to recovery, but we understand it is not going to be easy, especially when you’ve been isolated, physically beaten, and emotionally and financially controlled.

This can be a long process but remember you are not alone.

This guide aims to help victims get away from abuse safely & securely.

What should someone consider when they first realise they are in an abusive relationship?

Unfortunately some victims need to recognise that they are being abused before they can decide to do anything about it. For others it is quite common to make excuses for the abuser, living in the hope that they will change.

You might be living in fear, terrified about how the abuser would respond to you leaving. In any event, you need to know that these feelings all form part of the abuse. You cannot change the abuser, they will continue to abuse, and you just need to get away from them.

Leaving an abusive relationship may seem terrifying but you need to keep reminding yourself of your right to this freedom. A right to start a new life, leading away from the abusive relationship and into safety.

How to Get Away from Domestic Violence – A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Make an escape plan

When you have gained the strength to make the decision to leave, you need to escape, using a plan which puts your safety first. Make sure your abuser does not become aware that you’re planning to leave. Take your time to really think what you can do to stay safe.

Practice your escape plan so you know what to do when you are ready to leave. Ask some trusted people in your life if they could support you with the plan. This may be arranging to be collected, a place to stay or help with contacting the police.

Step 2: Have a safe space and support network ready

You may have friends or family who are able to provide safe temporary accommodation. However if you do not have anyone that can help you with this then be assured there are organisations who are willing to help, they will be able to provide details of refuge shelters.

Safe long term accommodation will depend on your situation, for example you may be able to use your legal rights to remain in the matrimonial home and for the abuser to leave or you may need to contact your local authority for help with housing needs. Reach out to someone that you trust who can help you with this.

Step 3: Plan for both your short term and long term privacy/safety

Most abusers are probably more dangerous after their victim has left, they have now lost control over their victim. It is vital that you do everything in your power to cease all contact with the abuser. Change your phone number, block the abuser and anyone else who was friends with both of you. Make sure you do not disclose your place of stay to anyone. Let the police know of your plan to escape in case something goes wrong. Keep evidence of the abuse, this will help when applying for court orders against the abuse

Step 4: Tips for making your escape

  • Wait until the abuser is out or away when getting things in place ready for you to leave
  • Do your research on places to live and what financial options are open to you
  • Use the ‘incognito’ mode when using google, this allows you to search anonymously, the abuser will not be able to trace your search history
  • Speak to a trusted neighbour, friend or family member
  • Keep an extra set of keys in a safe place
  • Ask a trusted person to hold your important documents, i.e. Passport, birth certificate, driving licence etc.
  • Set some money aside
  • Keep your car fuelled and ready
  • Prepare a bag with essential items when you leave, ask a trusted person to hold on to this
  • Keep proof of the abuse, this will really help after you have left.

Step 5: Continued protection of privacy and safety

There are lots of organisations committed to helping and supporting victims of abuse. They will be able to provide further guidance on orders that may be available to you. A non-molestation order can prevent your abuser from contacting you after you have left. Alternatively an occupation-order can order your abuser to move out of the family home.

Step 6: Recovery

Understanding and believing that you cannot, in any situation, be subjected to any form of physical and emotional abuse at any time by anyone. Recognising this fact is one of the first steps towards recovery. It is equally important to understand that the abuse is a cycle that would continue over and over again if you allow it to. By choosing not to engage further with the perpetrator is one of the most powerful things you can do. Use your energy and time to re- invest in yourself and people who genuinely care for you, this will help you regain some of your self- esteem and self-worth. If you find the abusive relationship has left you with feelings that you are unable to cope with, please contact a health professional

What to do if your abuser tracks you down or contacts you after leaving?

If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police. If you have applied for a court order ensuring the abuser does not make contact with you (non-molestation order) then there will potential consequences for the abuser for breaching this order.

It is important to ensure your support network are aware of your situation, they may be able to help with keeping you safe, this could be contacting the police or other authorities on your behalf for advice and assistance.

Remember abusers are masters of manipulation, they are good at making excuses and will use emotional blackmail and make false promises to change. Be aware that this is part of the abusers tactics to keep you trapped, don’t allow the abuser to control you in this way.

How can I help a friend or a family member leave domestic abuse?

It is important that you listen without judging or criticising. By encouraging and supporting the victim, they will feel stronger in their decision making. Do not make them feel bad for not leaving earlier or staying in the relationship, it will only damage the victim’s confidence further.

There are many ways in which you will be able to help, you may be able to offer temporary accommodation or provide emotional support throughout this difficult journey. It’s important for the victim to be able to confide in their support network, do not disclose any information to anyone which may put the victim at risk.

What should I say to help a victim or survivor of domestic violence?

Remember your support can make a difference to a victim of abuse, how you respond to their situation is very important. The right approach and attitude can encourage the victim to talk about the abuse and be willing to access resources for support. Here are some ideas of things you can say;

  • How do you feel about this situation?
  • Can I do anything to help?
  • I’m here to support you with any decision you make
  • Although I am concerned about you, I have to respect your decision
  • What do you think you should do

Should I confront the abuser?

Do not confront the abuser or do anything that will put your safety at risk. You need to reach out and speak to someone you trust, make sure someone is aware of your situation.

We understand how difficult it is to see someone you know or love experiencing abuse, sometimes trying to help a victim is not easy. It’s important to remember that you are not alone and the first step that you should take is to talk to someone. No one should have to deal with abuse alone.

Here at the Criminal Injuries Helpline, we help victims of violent crime and abuse recover compensation. You may want to help the victim gain some justice, get in touch with us today to see if the victim would qualify.

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