It’s time to leave
As my work focuses around love & healing it feels important to acknowledge that before some of that work can happen you need to leave, sometimes difficult and dangerous situations. You can’t be or create the best version of yourself if you remain in relationships that are detrimental, toxic and abusive.
I write this to you as both a healer but also an ex detective who specialised for many years in cases of domestic abuse and child protection. This gives me the important safety knowledge I need to express, its not just as easy as packing your bags and walking out the door.
Before leaving an abusive relationship there is a period of acceptance, the moment when you are able to think clearly “I can’t stay here.” In my experience after the festive period these moments increase. Why? Quite simply because we are shown everyday on TV and social media what a “Happy Christmas” should look like and sometimes the reflect on your reality might be enough to make you say “I can’t stay here”
Often leaving takes a few steps and sometimes that’s the safest way. If you can safely plan to leave you are more likely to go with the things, you need and somewhere to go. It doesn’t always happen this way, I have been to many addresses at 2am, bundling people into vehicles and taking them to a place of safety. If that is you, trust in the officers who come and get you, they have a huge amount of training and the only thing they care about in that moment is keeping you alive.
If you are in danger, if you are fearing for your life, if you are scared, if you have taken been assaulted first time or the 100th time, call the police 999.
If it is safe to plan your exit, then these are my suggestions:
- Stay as safe as you can, whilst you are still in the relationship.
If there is always an explosive altercation on a Tuesday after they come back from the pub, can you be asleep before they get back? Can you make an excuse to sleep in the kids’ room that night? Can you not drink if you are with them to keep yourself focused on safety?
Think about your escape routes out of the house, do not argue in the kitchen or bathroom as the risk of injury is extensively higher.
Speak to a neighbour or a friend, have an unrelated code word which means for them to call the police. If you do not have anyone, be familiar with your phone settings to how to trigger an emergency call quickly. Pressing 55 during an emergency call will help you get through to the police, to read more about this click here
If you are going out check your safe space options , these are rooms in shops and banks where you can head to perhaps contact families or support services. Many places will have signs up “Ask for ANI” if you approach a member of staff asking for “Ani” they will know you are in need of immediate support for domestic abuse.
Reach out to organisations such as Refuge they have extensive advice and training and can help you with places to stay.
Think about your devices, many domestic abuse charity websites have a fast shut down button should you be disturbed in your research. However, deleting browsers is important to prevent discovery that you are planning to leave.
- Pack when calm
If you can safely hide a bag in preparation, start to consider what you will need when you leave.
Identification documents such as passports, birth certificates for the kids, children’s medical red books.
Medication, contact the doctor for repeat prescriptions.
Bank Cards and or cash
Clothes for a few days
If you are taking a car, spare keys, the V5 and insurance documents
Chargers for phones
A written list of contact numbers in case your phone is damaged
Anything of any sentimental value, a picture of your late Grandmother that you could not see destroyed or left behind.
If you are leaving with children, a familiar teddy or blanket.
- Plan when you want to leave
If your perpetrator works or has a certain period away from the house, that is when you want to go.
Have somewhere to go, this should be somewhere they do not know about. A safe friend, a police station, a hotel (booked by someone else so its not traceable to your devices), a refuge.
Have petrol in the car or cash for train tickets. Do not use your bank card as this will reveal your location.
The scary reality is at the point you leave or are discovered planning to leave the risk to you escalates. Domestic abuse perpetrators need to maintain control of you for their abuse to have an effect. When they suddenly lose control, there is a frantic dangerous panic to re-establish the control at any cost. They are likely to try to locate you, so do not go straight to your mothers or your best friend’s house.
Choose a safe location, contact the police, tell them you have left they will help and support you. Contact family, tell them you are safe, tell them you have left and if the perpetrator arrives at their homes, work, schools that they should not let them in, just call the police.
Contact charities who can and will support you.
Block the perpetrators number, turn off location services, shut down social media. Posting a photo on social media without the right privacy settings will reveal your location.
- What’s next?
In reality, what is next, is a tough path, unlearning the conditioning placed upon you, takes time and experts to help you. There will always be moments of “should I go back” this is normal and vital that you have the support in place to help you stay on track and importantly stay safe.
A police investigation, should you support one, takes times but comes with great support. Police officers want to help you, they want to be effective, give them a chance if you can.
Charities such as Safer Places can advise on civil restraining orders.
It is day one, that the truth, you will need to build a new life for yourself outside of the abuse.
This is not an exhaustive list of suggestions, often your situations are unique, and tailored advice will be needed for you. What I can promise you, is that you do not deserve to live in fear or to be bullied by anyone. You deserve love, love from yourself and from others.
Reach out to someone, stay safe and believe there is a life after this.