Intimate partner violence is a widespread issue occurring in millions of households across the nation. If your spouse is abusive, seeking safety for yourself and your family is critical. However, this is a daunting task that requires careful planning.
We at Fait & DiLima, LLP have worked with countless women and men in relationships involving domestic violence and helped them obtain protection. Below is what you need to consider when leaving a dangerous spouse.
If you have time on your side, we recommend planning ahead. Try to set aside cash in a safe spot where your spouse will not find it, think about a trusted friend you can stay with, and have a packed bag with essentials readily available in case you need to leave quickly.
If you decide to pursue a domestic violence case, having evidence of the abuse you endured is critical. You should document things like the date and time of each incident, what occurred, and any injuries you sustained.
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) provides many resources to help someone leave their situation. When creating a safety plan, they advise that you:
- Make a list of safe people to contact,
- Memorize phone numbers of people or places you could call for help
- Keep change (for a payphone, as you may find yourself without a cell phone) with you at all times, as well as cash for living expenses
- Establish a code word with family, friends, and coworkers so that you can tell them to call for help without alerting the abuser
You should also have essential documents with you. This is important and will help you should you take legal action. Again, the NCADV offers useful advice, suggesting that you bring:
- Your credit cards and checkbook
- Social security cards
- Birth certificates
- Copies of deeds, leases, and insurance policies
- Proof of income for you and the abusive spouse or partner, such as pay stubs or copies of W-2 forms
- Copies of bank or credit card statements if you cannot easily access them online
- Any documentation that proves past abuse, including photographs, police reports, or medical records
Request a Protective Order
If you are in immediate danger, you should go to court and obtain a protective order that requires the abuser to stay away from you. If you have children, be sure the order gives you custody. Otherwise, you could be accused of kidnapping.
Many courts provide domestic violence resources, including restraining order packets with instructions or judges available to sign restraining orders and custody orders on very short notice.
At this point, it’s wise to hire a lawyer. At Fait & DiLima, LLP, we ease the burdens of this process by preparing our clients to appear before a judge to tell their side of the story. We help them ensure that the judge has all the information they need to rule on whether to provide both a temporary and final order.
There are steps you can take to stay safe once you’re away from the abuser. Change your phone number and do not answer the phone unless you know who is calling. You may also want to rent a post office box or arrange to have your mail delivered to a friend or family member’s address.
If the abuser does contact you, make a note of when, how, and what happened. If you have a restraining order, keep it with you at all times. If you believe the terms of the order have been violated, call the police or contact the court right away.
Our team understands that these measures are never taken lightly. We are here to advocate on your behalf and always ensure that your rights are protected.
To speak with one of our domestic violence attorneys, call (301) 251-0100 today.