Safe Solutions to Help Domestic Violence Survivors Find a New Home and a New Life
If you feel trapped in an abusive relationship, finding your way out can mean the difference between life and death. Domestic violence is an epidemic in America, and if you are in an abusive, controlling relationship, it can difficult to know how to get out. To get yourself to safety and into a new life, keep these tips in mind.
Putting Together an Escape Plan
If your partner is physically or emotionally abusive, your first priority should be to put together a plan to get out of the house and get to safety. Often, however, the abusive partner exerts so much control over the victim that it can be difficult to find a way to break away. You need to find your window of opportunity and make your escape whenever you can. Wait until your partner is out of town or at work to make your move and then do so quickly. Take only what you need to truly survive, and be sure to have a plan for children and pets.
Finding a Safe, Secure Shelter
It’s best to locate a shelter or safe space before you leave. If you have the resources, set up an apartment with items that will help you feel safe and relaxed once you get away. This can be especially helpful when children are involved. Use secure contact information to secure your new space and don’t tell anyone about your plans. For those who cannot afford to move, seek shelter with a trusted family member or friend or look for a domestic violence shelter in your area. Shelters often offer the security and privacy you need to feel safe during your transition period. These programs also offer resources to help get you back on your feet.
Locating a New Home
While you are in your safe haven, you’ll want to start searching for a permanent home. If you are working with a shelter or counselor, ask for advice in working with a realtor to search for a new neighborhood and home. Keep your financial limits in mind when researching housing in your area. Take care not to use any old contact information on loan or housing paperwork, and let your real estate agent know that your partner should be kept out of the process completely.
You should also make arrangements to have your items moved to your new home. Call in some friends, enlist the help of relatives, or do what’s called a “hybrid move,” which involves hiring professionals to load and unload items you’ll transport on your own. Regardless of which method you choose, make sure you have people around who can protect and support you.
Securing Your New Life
If you’ve found a home that works for your budget and lifestyle, you need to take extra steps to make sure you feel safe. If you have not taken out a restraining order against your partner, follow up with authorities to do so now. Install a home security system (perhaps one that allows for remote monitoring via apps or through a security company), and make sure all doors and windows have functioning locks. Don’t let hedges near entrances become overgrown, and be cautious when coming home late at night. Be careful when giving out your new address and take steps to prevent your ex-partner from knowing where you live.
Adjusting to Life as a Survivor
Being a domestic violence survivor can mean carrying around a lot of fear and baggage. Many survivors suffer from some form of PTSD, so it’s important to get help to manage your emotions. Seek the support of a specialized counselor to take care of your mental health. Try to create routines in your life that help you feel normal again, and be sure to take some time for some real self-care. You need time and support to find your way through this emotional trauma, so be patient as you heal and get back to living your life.
Getting out of an abusive relationship is never easy. The emotional and physical strain can take a serious toll on your health, even as a survivor. Being able to get out safely and find a new home you feel comfortable in can make the process a little easier. Stay strong, reach out for support, and know that you have what it takes to survive this situation.
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