Domestic Violence and Divorce: Understanding the Importance of a Safety Plan
Every minute, 20 people in the United States are abused by an intimate partner. Someone they love and trust. Perhaps also someone to which they are married. Sadly, leaving such a marriage is rarely easy. There is the risk of retaliation, and the legal system still has gaps in its protection of victims. Thankfully, there are ways that married victims can protect themselves. One of them is the use of a safety plan. Learn more about how it can help you, and what other strategies you may have to protect yourself from an abusive spouse during divorce or legal separation.
What is a Safety Plan?
A safety plan is a detailed account of how you will respond to various situations. It can also help to ensure you have all the documents and information you need to move forward with your life once you leave (i.e. birth certificate, social security card, school transfer papers for the children, bank account information, etc.). You can also incorporate family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers into a safety plan to improve the transition process. A few things you may wish to address could include:
- Exit strategies in your home, should your abuser ever find their way inside;
- A code word that you can use with family, friends, neighbors, or children to signal trouble;
- Security for your home;
- New locks on all your doors;
- Locking windows;
- Having a savings or checking account in your name before you leave (even if you do not have anything in it);
- Leaving an extra set of keys, money, and copies of important paperwork with someone you trust, should you ever need to leave quickly;
- Sorting out a place to stay (preferably somewhere your abuser would not think to look);
- A plan for the children to follow if they see your abuser but are not with you; and
- Notifying your employer, children’s school/daycare, etc. about the separation.
Also, keep in mind that there are other resources available to you. For example, if you do not have a safe place to go, you may stay at a domestic violence shelter. In addition, your employer is required to provide certain accommodations (not penalizing you for missing work to obtain a restraining order, etc.) to you. For more information, contact an experienced divorce lawyer.
Using an Order of Protection in Your Safety Plan
Victims who are leaving their abuser may also seek an order of protection from the courts. Doing so not only gives you a way to enforce boundaries with your abuser, but it can also serve as documentation in your divorce. Furthermore, an order of protection gives you the time and space you need to heal from the emotional trauma and prepare for divorce.
Davi Law Group LLC can help you obtain an order of protection. We can also work with you through your divorce to ensure your best interests and safety are protected throughout the entire legal process. Schedule a personalized consultation with our DuPage County divorce lawyers to get started. Call 630-580-6373 today.