Always use a computer that your abuser does not have access to - your abuser can track your computer activity.
Help Escaping Domestic Violence:
It is important that you have a detailed safety plan for you and your children before filing paperwork for divorce or custody. You need to have a plan for where you will live, contact an attorney for a restraining order, and make sure to get copies the following to bring with you.
- Financial Documents- bank statements, IRA/401k documents, tax returns
- Insurance - Health and car insurance information
- Personal Documents- Birth Certificate, Marriage License, Social Security Card, Driver's License, and Passport or other citizenship documents (originals if at all possible)
- Asset documents- if possible bring the title to the car and other items with you
- Child documents- immunization records, school records, and other medical records
- Any legal documents - previous custody or divorce papers, premarital agreements, important contracts, etc.
- Valued belongings- photos, jewelry, and other possessions. If you have a plan in place you can take more with you.
Other things to do:
- Change your password on your email, bank account, credit cards, and any other important accounts that your abuser may have access to.
- Get a new cell phone or prepaid cell phone so that you can use that phone to call your friends, attorney, domestic violence hotlines, etc without your abuser being able to track it. You can also ask the phone company to block the abuser's known phone numbers.
- Have a bag of clothes packed for you and the kids so you can grab and go when needed.
- Consider renting a post office box to get items mailed to when you start looking into government aid, etc. or have things sent to your work or a friend.
- Make a budget of your expenses - make sure not to live beyond your means. You can live without cable, internet, smartphones, etc at least temporarily. Make your money last as long as possible.
- If you do not work - start looking into jobs and government assistance right away.
- Make a general list of property assets
- Have your name, address, and phone number unlisted.
When you leave:
- Get the restraining order right away so that the abuser cannot come near you and your children. Note that if you get a restraining order, the address information will be on the restraining order as well as any police reports that you file.
- Be careful who you give your new contact information to
- Alert your child's school, daycare, and doctor's offices about the situation. Consider changing schools, daycares, doctors, churches, etc if possible. This includes going to different grocery stores, gyms, post offices, etc than you used to visit so that you are less likely to run into your abuser.
- Reschedule any appointments that the abuser might know about
- Alert neighbors and co-workers and ask them to call the police if they feel you may be in danger.
- Install security alarms, motion sensors, etc
- Provide schools/daycares with a copy of the restraining order so that they know the abuser cannot pick up your kids
This may seem incredibly overwhelming, but it is better for you and for your children to get out of an abusive situation.
If you need help getting a restraining order or filing for divorce/custody please visit our website www.allforthefamilylegalclinic.org for an application for our services. We charge on a sliding scale based on income and family size, starting at $10/ hr.
You can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline 1800-799-SAFE (7233) or if you are in the Bay Area you can also contact 650-312-8515 or 800-300-1080 for assistance.