Domestic abuse victims should prepare escape plan before leaving

It is often difficult to leave an abusive marriage. Creating an escape plan may provide physical and legal protections to victims of domestic violence.

Many marriages have challenges that can ultimately end in divorce. When abuse is present in a relationship, the challenges are often among the most difficult to address, as well as to escape. Abusers usually go to great lengths to keep their victims under their control and can make it hard - and sometimes dangerous - to leave. Therefore, it is often wise for abuse victims in Texas to create an escape plan before leaving a violent marriage.

Sadly, domestic violence is not an uncommon occurrence. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence states that about one-third of all women and one-fourth of men across the United States have experienced domestic abuse at some point. Authorities say that 15 percent of all violent crimes in the country can be attributed to violence by one intimate partner against another.

Elements of an effective escape plan

When deciding it is time to end a marriage, victims of domestic violence may first want to come up with a plan of escape. The National Domestic Violence Hotline suggests that victims list and then implement the following in an escape plan:

  • Compile evidence of abuse, including a journal detailing abusive attacks or behavior, as well as photographs of injuries resulting from abuse.
  • Memorize the phone numbers and addresses of police stations and abuse shelters.
  • Tell a trusted person about the abuse and ask for help.
  • Put emergency cash, clothing, important documents and belongings in a safe place outside the home that is not known by the abuser.

One of the final steps before leaving an abusive partner may be to seek a protective order.

How does a protective order work?

These legal documents may protect victims from abuse by prohibiting contact from the abuser. While a protective order is in effect, the abuser will not be allowed to go near the victim's home, work or school. He or she will also be prohibited from contacting the victim via phone, email or social media. Violating the terms of the order may result in criminal charges.

After the initial protective order is granted, a hearing will be scheduled to allow the accused abuser to present his or her side. During this time, it is important for the victim to bring evidence that abuse occurred, in order to convince the judge to grant another protective order that may last six months to one year. In some cases, when there is a serious concern for the safety of the victim, it may be possible to get a permanent protective order.

Abusive marriages are known for being complicated and difficult to leave. Victims usually need all the help they can get, including assistance from law enforcement, counselors and supportive family and friends. It may also help to speak with a Dallas family law attorney who has experience in domestic violence.