This is part two of a three-part series on domestic abuse. To read part one please click here. 

I’ve wrestled with my better judgement many times. In fact, I’ve probably lost as many of those wrestling matches as I’ve won. But over time I’ve found that some things remain constant. One of those constants is that I can’t make a choice on behalf of another capable human being and have them feel empowered by it, but I can gently love and guide them to help them make the best choice in their current situation.

Knowing that, some victims of domestic violence are so focused on surviving a specific day that they’ve given up hope that their entire life can be different. Others may be led to believe that it’s wrong to leave their partner for religious reasons, and some may be convinced that they just can’t make it on their own. Take it from someone who’s been around the block on this one a few times: Sometimes healing requires removing yourself from the violent situation for a while so that you can think things through calmly and clearly and get the help needed to recover.

Sweet friend, you are valuable, and if you’re being abused or know of someone who is, please take a few moments to read and re-read some very helpful (and possibly life-saving) tips below:

  • Your web history may be monitored by your abuser. Do what you can to ensure that your path to safety, freedom, and life isn’t found out. This may mean deleting your browser history in the event that he searches your computer or cell phone to find out what you’re doing.
  • Make copies of legal documents: birth certificates, drivers licenses, insurance cards, social security numbers, bank accounts, mortgage papers, pay stubs, medical records, veterinary paperwork, telephone numbers, photos that you don’t want to lose, etc., and store them at a safe location (with a safe family member or a friend)
  • If you have a cell phone, keep it charged and either with you or within close reach at all times.
  • Stash some cash with your safe-keeper (family member or friend) – you may very well need it.
  • If you have children, YOU need to make the escape plan, but do not scare them. You must, however, clue them in on what to do if something happens and to not tell anyone. If they’re old enough to run to a neighbor’s home, have them do so and teach them to not come back (they may want to stay and protect mommy). Remember, it’s in their best interest (and yours as well) to get to safety. Make arrangements with that neighbor to take them in, hide them, and have the neighbor call the police immediately.  
  • If violence begins to happen, or if you think it might begin to happen, be proactive and follow your plan. Don’t wait for the first hit or kick to happen.
  • Never allow yourself to be cornered in a room with less than two possible exit points (windows or doors). If the argument or abuse is ensuing, work your way to the exit so that once you are there, you can escape.
  • Do not run away with your children or keep them from their father without verifying the legalities of doing so without the court’s approval. Your local women’s shelter can help you with the legalities. Running TO SAFETY with them until the police arrive is fine, but call the police immediately! Taking your children and keeping them from their father could cause you to lose custody of your children by not following the proper legal channels.
  • Always call the police, and if needed, stay on the phone with the dispatcher until the police arrive. This will not only help keep you and your children safe, but the paper trail from the police reports can be used in a custody hearing down the road.
  • Stay smart, stay safe and stay alive. And remember, you are loved.

If you have questions, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.