The #WhyIStayed hashtag is one of the most positive developments that came out of the Ray Rice story this week. Survivors and advocates took over social media to offer the many complex reasons people stay in violent relationships. The fact is that leaving an abusive relationship is difficult, complicated, and very often dangerous – in fact, a woman is 75% more likely to be killed in the three months after leaving an abuser than any other time in the relationship.
Here’s what you should do, plan for, and remember as you’re preparing to leave an abusive relationship:
- Open a savings account and/or get a credit card in your own name.
- Get your own post office box so you can receive mail and checks safely.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important papers, extra medicine and clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
- If there is a neighbor you can trust, ask them to call 911 if they hear a disturbance coming from your house.
- Choose a code word you can use with people you trust to let them know when to call the police.
- Plan where you will go if you have to leave your house (even if you don’t think you are going to need it). If your abuser knows your friends and family members, then those won’t be safe locations for you. Call the SafePlace hotline at 512-267-7233 if you need emergency shelter.
- Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the abuser.
- Make sure that “location services” is turned off on your cell phone, social media accounts, notepads, and any other electronic device or service that can identify your location to your abuser.
- Call SafePlace at 512-267-SAFE, or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, to get help in making a safety plan that is specific to your needs and your situation.
- Have positive thoughts about yourself. You don’t deserve to be abused, no matter what anyone has told you. Trust your instincts and your judgment.
For more information on safety planning, visit our website at http://safeaustin.org/help/safetyplanning/