If you are being emotionally, physically, or sexually abused, you do not have to continue to suffer in silence. But you do need to make safety a priority for you and/or your children. Here are some steps you can take to get help.
- Tell a Person You Trust
Many people in abusive relationships keep the abuse hidden from friends and family. You may feel shame or even think it’s your fault. It’s imperative to get support and help, so you’ll need to share your story. Share with someone you trust such as a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or family member. Make sure it’s someone who is loving and compassionate.
- Find a Safe Place
If you do decide to leave an abusive relationship, you must find a place to live that’s safe. Consider going to a shelter, asking your church for help, or living with a friend or family member. No matter where you live, it’s important that you limit your contact with your abuser and let the safe people in your life know if the abuser contacts you. And block all contact with them through social media.
- Set Money Aside
If you’re in an abusive relationship where your partner controls your finances, setting aside money will be a challenge; but, it is necessary. Some creative ways to set aside some extra money include babysitting, selling clothes or items you no longer need, or even a second job. These steps—along with asking for help from a local ministry or organization that helps abuse victims like the Salvation Army—are crucial to your future.
- Document Everything
Keep track of any abuse happening. Write down the date and time of each incident, and record any details of abuse. If there was a witness who saw what happened, write down their name and contact information. For physical or sexual abuse, see a doctor and let them know what is happening to you.
- Talk to a Counselor
Talking with someone one-on-one in a safe environment is an important step for overcoming an abusive relationship. While looking for a counselor, ask them if they have experience in trauma and domestic violence. You’ll also want to look for someone who makes you feel heard, understood, safe, and comfortable.
- Pack an Emergency Bag
You may find yourself in a dangerous situation and having to leave immediately, so it’s a good idea to pack a bag ahead of time. You’ll want to put it in a safe place, or leave it with a safe person you trust. Here are some items to include:
- Legal documents
- Prepaid cell phone
- Get Legal Help
Leaving is the most dangerous time, so consider getting an Order of Protection. You can do this by contacting the police. Before you leave, you can also contact the police and have them escort you to a location where you’ll be safe. You can also contact an attorney, domestic violence hotline, or shelter in your area.