October has been recognized as Domestic Violence Awareness Month, a time to reflect and raise awareness of the cruel and debilitating circumstances surrounding domestic violence. We hear myriad horror stories about abusive relationships, and the prodding to leave. Being someone who once experienced domestic violence firsthand, I can assure you, it’s much easier said than done.
Instead of listing the reasons one should leave, or explaining why I left, I want to help those who are in abusive relationships devise their very own covert escape plan. In my opinion, once the mind is made up, the body will follow.
Here are some tips for you, or anyone you know, who may need help:
P = Pack Your Bags—mentally, that is. Make a mental note of the items you cannot live without. These should be things that can fit in a small bag, and can be easily collected and packed when ready. Anything replaceable is expendable. You can return for everything you left at a later date with the police and/or family members who will be able to assist and protect you. If returning is out of the question, then stick to the basics. Collect your important papers, photos, a few items of clothing, and jewelry, then place them in an easy access location. When the time is right, you will be able to gather these items quickly. Do not put things together, or reorganize in a way to make your significant other suspicious.
L = Look For Shelter. Abusers try to convince their victims safe places don’t exist. That is untrue. You have options, and you should take full advantage of them. If you do not have family members who are willing to let you stay with them until you get back on your feet, there are various organizations that will assist you. Be discreet in researching your options. Do not verbalize your plans of leaving. This may work against you, and incite violent behavior from your partner.
A = Ask For Help. Assistance is there for you. Family and friends are more supportive than you believe. No one wants to hear a loved one is being abused. Someone will stand by you, and help you out of your situation. If you don’t have someone close to you to depend on, reach out to the various hotlines available to you. These hotlines are accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Make the call from outside the home. You do not want your abuser to overhear you, and cause you harm before help has time to arrive.
N = Never Give Up. At times, your situation may look bleak, and you may feel like there is no way out. Do not give into that fear. Know that you deserve to be in a relationship with someone who is not abusive, and who will treat you with love and respect. If you are denied assistance the first time you reach out, do not give up. Keep researching alternative options.
You have the right to feel safe.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship and need help, please make the call. You CAN make a difference in your own life, or the life of someone else!
National Domestic Violence Hotline: (800) 799-SAFE (7233) or www.thehotline.org
National Sexual Assault Hotline: (800) 656-HOPE (4673) or www.rainn.org
National Teen Dating Abuse Hotline: (866) 331-9474 or www.loveisrespect.org
Safe Horizon (A haven for domestic violence victims): 800-621-HOPE (4673) or www.safehorizon.org