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Divorce Preparation: 14 Steps To Take When Preparing To Leave An Abusive Marriage

Leaving an abusive relationship can be a difficult and emotional decision, but it's important to prioritize your safety and well-being.

If you or someone you know has experienced domestic violence, know that you are not alone. The statistics on domestic violence can be alarming, but they also highlight the importance of seeking help and support.

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, approximately one in four women and one in seven men in the United States have experienced severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime. That means millions of people have been affected by domestic violence.

While leaving an abusive relationship can be a difficult and complex process, it's important to know that there are resources available to help you. The National Domestic Violence Hotline provides confidential support and information 24/7. They can help you develop a safety plan, connect you with local resources, and provide emotional support.

It's also important to recognize that leaving an abusive relationship is not always a one-time event. On average, it can take a victim seven times to leave an abusive relationship for good. This underscores the importance of ongoing support and resources for survivors.

Despite the challenges, it's important to know that leaving an abusive relationship is possible. A 2018 report by the National Domestic Violence Hotline found that the most common reason women cited for leaving an abusive relationship was fear for their own or their children's safety. This fear is valid, and seeking help and support can be the first step towards creating a safer and healthier life.

It's important to recognize that leaving an abusive relationship requires preparation, both emotionally and financially.

The process can be overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to help prepare yourself.

Remember, you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity. Seeking help and support is a sign of strength, and there are resources available to help you navigate the process of leaving an abusive relationship.

How To Prepare Financially:

  • Create a budget: Take inventory of your income and expenses to create a budget that you can follow after leaving the abusive relationship. Here's a digital budget spreadsheet that walks you through what to do. This can help you plan your expenses and determine how much money you will need to live on your own.

  • Open a separate bank account: Open a separate bank account in your name only. Make sure you have access to all of your personal identification documents, such as a driver’s license and Social Security card.

  • Establish credit: If you do not have credit, consider opening a credit card or taking out a small loan. This can help you establish credit in your name and build a good credit score.

  • Consider government assistance: There are government assistance programs available to help those who are leaving an abusive relationship. Research programs in your area and apply for any that you may be eligible for.

Pro Tip: Your local library is a great place to learn about these programs!

How To Prepare Emotionally:

  • Create a safety plan: Create a safety plan for yourself and your children. This plan should include a list of safe places to go and phone numbers of people who can help you.

  • Seek therapy: Consider speaking to a therapist to help you work through your emotions and the trauma of the abuse. A therapist can also help you build coping skills and provide support during this difficult time.

  • Connect with others: Reach out to friends and family members for support. Join a support group for those who have experienced domestic violence. It's important to surround yourself with people who care about you and want to help.

  • Practice self-care: Take care of yourself physically and emotionally. Eat well, exercise, get enough sleep, and engage in activities that make you happy. It's important to take care of yourself during this challenging time.

5 Tasks to Accomplish BEFORE Leaving

  1. Gather important documents: Gather important documents such as identification cards, bank statements, and other financial documents. This What To Gather worksheet is a great place to start.

  2. Pack a "go" bag: Pack a bag with essentials such as clothing, medications, and personal hygiene items. Keep this bag in a safe place where you can easily access it if you need to leave quickly.

  3. Make a list of emergency contacts: Make a list of emergency contacts such as family members, friends, and local shelters.

  4. Change your passwords: Change your passwords for any online accounts that your abuser may have access to, such as social media or bank accounts.

  5. Find a safe place to stay: Identify a safe place to stay, such as a friend or family member's home, a domestic violence shelter, or a hotel.


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