Victims of domestic violence in a marriage may for a while believe that they have no place to go and nobody to help them get out of such a scary situation. The abusive spouse may physically and mentally abuse their partner, along with instilling fear of harm if they attempted to leave. Statistically, it may take around seven tries before an abused spouse is able to leave their perpetrator for good.
With a trustworthy support system, legal intervention with a divorce attorney, and planning ahead, the victim can finally part ways from their spouse and get onto the path of a happier life.
Filing a Divorce Petition
To begin the process of divorce, you have to submit a petition to your local county clerk’s office. However, since domestic violence is a variable, you will need to strategize with your attorney about when to file in correlation with when you have vacated the family home and are in a safe location. If your spouse receives notice of the divorce petition before you have left the premises, a devastating situation may unfold. It is highly recommended that you involve law enforcement, domestic violence support organizations, and an attorney during this time.
Keeping Children Safe
If you are in fear that your spouse may get violent or try to kidnap your children if you leave, there are ways you can protect yourself and children. Your attorney can talk with you about filing a court order to prevent more violence from happening. It may also be a good idea to notify your children’s teachers and administration that only you should be the one permitted to release them from class if needed.
You may want to establish a “safe word” with your children in the event that you need to leave your home quickly while your spouse is out, or if you need to get away from being harmed immediately. Have a to-go bag already packed for both you and your children, that includes items such as a change of clothes, medication, birth certificates, a prepaid cell phone, financial information, credit cards with only your name, sentimental and personal items, etc.
Having an Escape Plan
If there is a day and time that you plan to leave with your children, loop in your attorney and trusted loved ones. So just in case your attempt to leave is unsuccessful, your loved ones can call for help. If possible, have already arranged a place to stay beginning that night and on, either at a hotel or with a reliable loved one who is aware of the fragile situation. If you need extra support, you can call 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) which is the National Domestic Violence Hotline. These representatives can connect you with safe housing in the area or other professionals that can be of use as you begin anew and file for divorce.
If you are currently in an unsafe situation with a violent spouse, there are people who can help. Please know that you aren’t alone and that escaping from domestic abuse is possible.
For help in Texas, visit our Domestic Violence page for more information.