Photo credit – By Susan Peters/aframnews.com
1. Get help from a domestic abuse expert. “Talk with a professional who can help you develop a safety plan,” advises Murray, who is also a member of the American Counseling Association. “Make sure they’re a … domestic violence advocate or mental health professional trained to work with clients affected by domestic violence. Not all therapists have that training.”
2. Make the right safety plan for you. “The plan for leaving an abusive relationship is very unique to each person’s situation,” Murray says. “This is because the dynamics of the abuse and the type of perpetrator can vary. You could have a perpetrator who doesn’t care when you leave. Or you could have someone who turns to stalking when you leave.” There is no one-size-fits-all approach, so be careful and calculated in how you decide to handle your own situation.
3. Talk about all possible safety risks. “The most dangerous time for many women is right after they leave,” Murray says. “Leaving can escalate the violence, so it’s important to think through all the possible safety risks. Where are you vulnerable? At work, home, a shelter, a friend’s house? What can you do to address those vulnerabilities?”
4. Get professional help in applying for a restraining order. “Have a professional walk you through the process of getting a protection order,” warns Murray. “Rules can be different depending on what state or county you live in.” Applications can get denied if they’re not filled in correctly, and Murray has seen too many rejected for simple mistakes that could have been avoided. She also recommends making sure your order sets clear consequences for various circumstances that might come up, like when your abuser tries to contact you.
5. Do as much advance planning as possible. If you know you’re in danger, even if you’re not sure you want to leave, Murray suggests you “take proactive precautions ahead of time. This could include setting up a code word with your neighbor or asking them to always call the police if they hear screaming coming from your home.” That way, when you’re in a crisis situation, you have a plan in place to make decisions quickly and safely.