The statistics on domestic violence are truly startling. And the men and women who are victimized by their abusers oftentimes find themselves trapped, unable to find a safe way out of their relationship, and their fear of retaliation and physical violence quells their willingness to take action.
But if you want to protect yourself and your children, then you need to be brave enough to find a way out. We know that’s far easier said than done and that taking steps toward dissolving your marriage could put you in danger. However, staying in your relationship could increase your risk of being seriously harmed.
What can you do to safely get out of your marriage?
Although the thought of divorcing your spouse might have you on edge, there are steps that you can take to stay safe and find a way out of your toxic marriage. Let’s look at some of them:
- Find a safe place to stay: If you can, you should try to find a safe place to stay until you can figure out your long-term plan, which may include divorce. You might only be able to take a small number of your belongings with you so that you can get away from your spouse as quickly as possible, but your safety is a top priority.
- Call the police: If you can’t physically get away from your spouse, then you might want to find a way to contact the police to tell them what’s happening. This can provide you with some immediate protection, but you might want to consider pressing criminal charges, too. This could result in a no-contact order being issued, and it could land your spouse in jail where they can’t get to you.
- Consider if you have time to talk to an attorney: Voluntarily leaving the family home could put you at a disadvantage in your divorce proceedings. So, if you’re safe in the family home and can discuss an exit strategy with an attorney first, then you should probably try to do so. But remember, your safety comes first.
- Seek a civil no-contact order: If criminal charges are out of the question, you should think about using the civil courts to seek a restraining order. You might be able to obtain one of these orders without first providing notice, although you’ll eventually have to have a hearing on the necessity of furthering the no-contact order. This order can provide you with a layer of protection.
- File for divorce: Once you’re safe, you need to try to formally break away from your marriage in a way that protects your physical and financial safety. You may be able to use the existence of domestic violence to your advantage, as you may be able to block your spouse’s access to your children, and you can be careful with how you approach your divorce so that you protect against disclosing your location.
Be safe and formulate a plan
There are a lot of resources out there to help you come up with a plan to exit your violent and volatile relationship. But you don’t have to face this process on your own.
While you might be able to find emotional support from your family and friends, you can also choose to have a legal advocate by your side as you navigate this terrible time in your life. One of these attorneys can help you figure out how to obtain a restraining order and protect your interests as you navigate your divorce.