Here is some great advice if you’re wondering how to leave an abusive relationship. It’s not a strict guide to follow, only suggestions and insights; of course, each person’s situation is different. Take from this what will help you, and above all reach out to professional services and qualified experts who can help with practical support and safely navigating an exit.
Preparing to leave your home
- Open a new bank account with a new bank, and ensure that statements are online only and sent to a new email address, password protected, that is not linked to your phone.
- Pick up the card from the bank and hide it well- among the abusers belongings is usually safe, as they will not go looking there. Otherwise, under the sole insert in a shoe, in an unused board game, at work, there are many places. However, if you live with an abuser, I am sure you have a good hiding spot already.
- Do not download the banking app to your phone
- Start putting what you can into that account. Any birthday money from friends or family, an unnoticeable amount from your wage (talk to work/Centrelink). Add any change you find around the house – eg a 600ml bottle of coke full of 2 dollar coins will save $1000. A bank like ING allows you to deposit money into your account at local post offices. Do not transfer to this account yourself.
- CBA, NAB, Westpac and ANZ all have programs or services designed to support your escape from a domestic violence situation, but only if you are a customer. If this is something you could benefit from and could safely do, set up an account with one or more of the big four banks.
- If you have debit/credit cards, report them stolen so the abuser cannot access them once new numbers are provided.
- If you do the family groceries and the abuser does not study the receipts, start buying gift cards (Visa, Woolworths and Coles) then hide them. They will assist you when you are setting up your new home.
- Buy a cheap phone and a spare SIM card, then set that up and hide it, fully charged (on silent). You will need this when you turn your main one off to ensure the abuser cannot contact or track you.
- If you are being physically assaulted, text the evidence to your secret phone.
- Start sending important items that will not be noticed missing to either loved ones, work or storage. Things like photos, jewellery, ID, passport etc. And not all at once, do this is over time.
- For any clothes you cannot carry in a bag, but you want to keep, do a “clean out”, and say you are donating them and get them somewhere safe. Or ‘donate’ a bag of clothes to any friend or family member that visits
- Keep your unwanted clothes at the top of the drawers and the front of the wardrobe so that the abuser does not notice your collection depleting
- If you can, start selling things worth value that you do not need, and will not be noticed missing; put that money in your new account.
- If you work, and you consider it safe and your environment supportive, tell your boss what is happening so that they will understand for when the time comes, and so the abuser cannot extract information about you or your whereabouts from your colleagues.
- Some workplaces provide DV leave, if you require it, or count it as compassionate leave.
- If you work for a corporation that offers it, you could consider asking for a transfer.
- If not, consider having your working hours randomisd for a while to ensure you do not have a continuous or steady work schedule. This way you may be able to gain some freedom of movement.
Family and friends
- You may have lost contact with some friends by this point, but that does not mean that they will not try to help you. Reach out; help is necessary, especially if kids are involved.
- If you are in a rental property, and you consider it safe to do so, talk to the agent privately about lease options.
- Start looking for somewhere once you know you are almost ready so you are prepared
- Find donation groups to help you set up. If you put any requests out to Facebook, have someone else act on your behalf, otherwise it will be an easy way for the abuser to track you.
- Talk to churches, The Salvos, anyone that helps in this instance. If you have children, you will be fast tracked.
- Move in with family or friends for a short time
- Talk to a refuge/shelter if the above options won’t work
- Let the police know of your plan in case something goes wrong. They can also help you get the remainder of your things later.
- File for a DVO but do not have it put in place until you are out and safe! However, you may require proof of one either pending, or in place when it comes to the kids school.
Kids are affected by abuse, even if it is not aimed at them directly. Do not concern yourself with how they will cope with the changes; just know they will be much better off for them.
- If you have kids, you either take them with you at the time, or have someone you trust have them for the day
- If they are at school or childcare, you need to let them know in advance so that the abuser cannot collect them from there, ever. You will need a DVO or AVO in place for this to be enforced
- You also need to get them out of that school or childcare early and not keep to your normal routine.
- Changing schools is your best bet
- Act for Kids can provide support.
- Get a custody order in place ASAP
- If you have pets, talk to your local RSPCA or Rehoming group, as they will find a free foster carer to care for you animals until you are settled.
Leaving your home safely
By now you should have money in your accounts, a new phone, your kids and pets organised, your irreplaceable belongings should be safe elsewhere, and you should know exactly where you are headed once you close the door on this chapter of your life.
But you might feel tired, worn out and more than likely a shadow of your former self. Nevertheless, do not let those feelings consume you! That strong, loveable, independent and caring person is still within you, and you need her now more than ever.
Find a day that the abuser will be away for a few hours. Be nice leading up to the event, plan the weekend, dinner etc. This will keep the abusers paranoia low; they will think they have you right where they want you.
- Do not pack unnecessary stuff
- You do not need more than one brush, you do not need your toiletries – they can all be replaced.
- ESSENTIALS ONLY! Bags are heavy.
- You want to be hours ahead before the abuser realises what has happened.
- Do not linger, that home is not your happy place. Get out!
Once you are out of the house
- Change all internet banking passwords
- Change all social passwords
- Change all the email addresses linked to your social accounts to the secret one you set up
- Change all secret questions and answers across all media and banking
- Change PayPal passwords
- Block on all social media
- Block the abusers number
- Turn off location settings on all devices, apps and maps
- Turn that phone off and turn on the spare phone
- Contact anyone you need to from the new phone and keep your number on private
- Change your name on social media along with your profile picture (something generic)
- Block anyone who is friends with both of you
- Get a PO Box and get your mail redirected or have your mail already set up to online only, and to your new email address
- Remove the abuser from being your next of kin from everything (work, Dr’s, etc)
- Remove the abuser from your superannuation
- Change your car rego and any identifying traits of your car, or sell it
- Contact your doctor and get a mental health care plan, most, if not all states will provide you with 10 free sessions.
Stay strong when you leave an abusive relationship
The abuser is the most dangerous when they realise they have lost control of their possession (that is, you).
Changing all of your social media settings and names is necessary, as it is too easy to find anyone these days. If the abuser still finds you, close down all accounts (even temporarily), you can start fresh ones.
The abuser will try anything and everything, even suicide threats to get your attention. Do not fall for the games, as the abuser is just craving any information on your whereabouts to feel like they are gaining some control back.
If you must communicate due to having children, keep it all to text only and from your old number. Do not keep that phone on, turn it on when you need to make contact and then off again. Keep it strictly to communication regarding the kids and that is it. You do not want to leave the lines of communication open for the abuser.
It is vital that you cease all contact until you are strong enough to ignore the bullshit that the abuser will try to use to lure you back. You know it is bullshit, do not sprinkle glitter on your feelings. You are worth more than that!
More Domestic Violence Help
- National Sexual Assault, Domestic Family Violence Counselling Service 1800 737 732
- NSW Domestic Violence Crisis Line 1800 65 64 63
- NSW Link2Home Crisis Accommodation and Referrals 1800 152 152
- Legalaid – Women’s Domestic Violence – 1800 938 227
- 1800 Respect – 1800 737 732
- Lifeline – 13 11 44
- Emergency – 000
Temporary Shelter for Domestic Violence Victims
- Women’s Community Shelters – (02) 9539 6859
- Hornsby Ku-ring-gai Women’s Shelter
- Mary’s House (Naremburn) – (02) 8937 2094
- Bayside Women’s Shelter (South East Sydney)
- Dignity Emergency Accommodation (West Ryde)
- White Caravan
Facebook Support Groups for Domestic Violence
Give & Take may offer you:
- A safety check as a priority
- Immediate free legal advice
- Emergency Accommodation Assistance
- Food and Clothing
- Mobile phone & new number
- Travel and Transport
- Volunteers to assist with packing (Dv Free Service)
- Financial Assistance (for those living in The Hills)
- Counsellor and Clinical Forensic Psychologist
- Application help for Centrelink and other funding grants
- Offer you a postal mailing address you can use
- Advocate for you and on your behalf
- Refer you to other organisations and services
- Assist you with claiming compensation
- Refer you to a social worker if needed
- Housing and Accommodation options
- 24 hour online and/or phone support
- Meet up for your convenience
- Link you to our domestic violence secret support group
- Immediate planning to suit your personal situation
- Assistance moving forward (employment and training/education options)
Please consider your own safety and the safety of your children before following any general advice; please ensure you have thoroughly evaluated your own situation when considering these suggestions as they are not intended to replace advice from a professional nor will they be the correct choices in every situation. You are strongly encouraged to reach out, if safely possible, to a person or expert familiar with your situation for more specific support and advice.