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Checklist for Leaving an Abusive Husband

by Sharon O'Neil

Leaving an abusive husband can be difficult -- and dangerous. In 2010, 21 percent of female murder victims were killed by a current or former spouse, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. Victims of abuse need a safety plan to stay safe while living with an abusive husband, when leaving and after escaping. A safety plan is an individualized checklist of things to consider, prepare and gather when escaping an abusive relationship.

Do Your Research

Before leaving, you need to know your legal rights and where you will go after you escape. WomensLaw.org has state-specific legal information and listings of domestic violence assistance programs and shelters. If you have children, it's a good idea to get advice from an attorney who specializes in custody issues and domestic violence. If you are planning on taking your children with you, you need to make sure you are not in violation of an existing court order or kidnapping laws.

Save Proof of Your Abuse

Before leaving, try to gather all proof of your husband's abuse to use as evidence if you go to court. Gather photographs of your bruises and injuries, broken household objects or torn clothing. You will also want to take hospital records and a personal journal listing details of the abuse, if you kept one. Make sure you find a safe place to keep these items so your husband will not find it. Consider giving it to a trusted friend or family member to keep it safe.

Gather Important Documents

You will need your identification, financial documents and legal papers to help you start a new life without your husband. Make sure you have your birth certificate, driver's license, social security card, checkbooks and credit cards. Bring a copy of your marriage license, car registration, mortgage documents, insurance policies and medical records. If you have children, take their birth certificates, insurance information and immunization records. Have a list of emergency numbers, such as friends and family, local domestic violence shelters, your doctor and local law enforcement.

Pack Clothing and Personal Belongings

Gather up several changes of clothing, personal care items and any medications you or your children take. Take a few items you want to keep, such as pictures, jewelry and memorabilia. Make an extra set of car and house keys in case your husband takes yours away. Take a pay-as-you-go cell phone and emergency money.

Choose the Best Time to Leave

The best time to leave is when your husband will least expect it. This gives you the opportunity to get out safely and more time to get to a safe place before he realizes you are gone. Try to go while he is at work or if he goes out of town. You can check with your local police to see if they will escort you or if they can be on standby as you leave. Make preparations in case you have to leave suddenly. Keep your car filled with gas and back it in when you park. Make a habit of leaving the driver's door unlocked, while locking all of the others.

Take Precautions After You Leave

Take steps to stay safe after you leave your husband. Women's shelters have security measures in place to protect women from their abusers. If you stay with a friend or relative, make sure your car is not visible. The home should have dead-bolt locks and a security system, if possible. If you have a restraining order, keep a copy with you at all times. Change your phone number and have your number blocked from showing up on calling ID. If possible, change your work hours and consider enrolling children in a different school.

About the Author

Sharon O'Neil has been writing professionally since 2008. Her work has been published on various websites, including Walden University's Think+Up. She has worked in international business and is a licensed customs broker. She is currently a supervisor with a social service agency that works with families to prevent child abuse and neglect. She obtained a Bachelor of Science in business from Indiana University.

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