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You've finally made the decision to leave your abuser. It's all downhill from now, right?

WRONG! The riskiest time in a domestic violence situation is when the victim tries to leave the relationship. As important as it is to do certain things to protect yourself, it is just as important NOT to do things.

  • Do NOT tell your abuser you are moving out or you want a divorce. Do not broadcast your intentions. It's easy to do in the heat of the moment but it can be dangerous. Instead, get yourself to a safe place, then have an attorney or another trusted person give them the news.

  • Do NOT go back to get your things alone. If you have friends or can afford a moving company do this when you are fairly certain the abuser is not there.

  • If you choose to stay in the home, immediately change the locks, (do not forget the garage opener), secure the windows and install a security system. Today, there are very good systems for under $100. Even though victims are often advised to stay in the home be aware this increases your risk of danger.

  • Do NOT say you will take away custody of the kids.

  • Do NOT reply to his/her texts. No, this will not appease him/her. It will be taken as a sign of encouragement.

  • Do NOT return phone calls. See above. Contact your cell carrier and ask that your number be changed, If it is a domestic violence situation most will change it for free.

  • If you feel you cannot afford an attorney, most communities have legal aid services that can help you with a protection order, divorce and visitation at little or no cost.

  • Do NOT tell his/her friends or family where you have gone no matter how much they guilt you.

  • When visitation is ordered do NOT meet or drop off the children in a secluded spot. Choose a police department, fire department, social services, etc. The Walmart parking lot is not necessarily a safe place to do this. Do it in daylight and advise a friend or family where and what time this is taking place.

What you Do NOT do is just as important as what you do!

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