Leaving a Violent Relationship

Preparing to Leave

Because violence can escalate when someone tries to leave, keep these things in mind before you leave:

  • Keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures of injuries.
  • Keep a journal of all violence: noting dates, events and threats made, if possible. Keep your journal in a safe place.
  • Know where you can go to get help. Tell someone what is happening to you.
  • If you are injured, go to a doctor or an emergency room and report what happened to you. Ask that they document your visit.
  • Plan with your children. Find a safe place for them to go for help, like a room with a lock or a friend’s house. Reassure them that their job is to stay safe, not to protect you.
  • Contact your local shelter and find out about laws/other resources available to you. Know your rights before you have to use them. has state by state legal information.
  • Get job skills or take courses at a community college as you can.
  • Try to set money aside or ask friends or family members to hold money for you.

When You Leave

Make a plan for how and where you will escape quickly. You may request a police escort or stand-by when you leave. If you have to leave in a hurry, use the following list of items as a guide to what you need to bring with you. Our advocates can help you come up with a personalized safety plan for leaving.

1) Identification

  • Driver’s license
  • Birth certificate and children’s birth certificates
  • Social security cards
  • Financial information
  • Money and/or credit cards (in your name)
  • Checking and/or savings account books

2) Legal Papers

  • Protective order
  • Copies of any lease or rental agreements, or the deed to your home
  • Car registration and insurance papers
  • Health and life insurance papers
  • Medical records for you and your children
  • School records
  • Work permits/green Card/visa
  • Passport
  • Divorce and custody papers
  • Marriage license

3) Emergency Numbers

  • Your local police and/or sheriff’s department
  • Your local domestic violence program or shelter
  • Friends, relatives, and family members
  • Your local doctor’s office and hospital
  • County and/or District Attorney’s Office 

4) Other

  • Medications
  • Extra set of house and car keys
  • Valuable jewelry
  • Pay-as-you-go cell phone
  • Address book
  • Pictures and sentimental items
  • Several changes of clothes for you and your children
  • Emergency money

After You Leave

Your safety plan should include ways to stay safe after leaving. Here are some safety precautions to consider:
  • Change your locks and phone number.
  • Call the telephone company to request caller ID. Have your phone number blocked so neither your partner nor anyone else will be able to get your new, unlisted phone number.
  • Change your work hours and the route you take to work.
  • Change the route you take to your children's school or consider changing schools.
  • Alert school authorities of the situation.
  • If you have a restraining order, keep a copy of it with you at all times. Tell friends, neighbors, and employers that you have an active restraining order.
  • Tell local police about the order and give copies to employers, neighbors, and schools, along with a picture of the offender.
  • Consider renting a post office box or using a friend's address for your mail. (Be aware that addresses are on restraining orders and police reports.)
  • Be careful to whom you give your new address and phone number.
  • Reschedule appointments that the offender is aware of.
  • Use different stores and visit different social spots.
  • Alert neighbors, and request that they call the police if they feel you may be in danger.
  • Replace wooden doors with steel or metal doors. Install security systems if possible.
  • Install a motion-sensitive lighting system.
  • Tell coworkers about the situation, and have your calls screened by a receptionist if possible.
  • Tell people who take care of your children or drive them/pick them up from school and activities. Explain your situation to them, and provide them with a copy of the restraining order.