When leaving an abusive marriage, it is wise to create an escape plan. Domestic violence advocates can also help.
Getting a divorce is almost always heartbreaking for Illinois residents. However, for some, it can also be dangerous. It is never easy to end a marriage when domestic violence is an issue. Victims of violence who want to get out of their relationships need to carefully plan their escape and involve others who can help.
Domestic abuse is an issue that plagues millions of people in every state. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, more than 10 million people are victimized by their intimate partners each year – this includes men as well as women. It is reported that partner violence makes up 15 percent of all violent crimes in the nation. Children are especially vulnerable to domestic violence’s effects and may pass on the cycle of abuse after they grow up. Tragically, an estimated one out of every 15 children is exposed to domestic violence each year.
How to recognize domestic violence
Familial abuse is not always as easy as identifying a violent abuser. Abuse comes in many forms and does not have to involve physical attacks. A common factor in most abusers is the need to control his or her victims. Abusers may use threats of violence, belittling or insulting tactics or verbal and emotional abuse to control his or her family members. Emotional abuse may be just as damaging as physical abuse even if the abusive person never lays a hand on the victim.
Creating an escape plan
If an abuser suspects the victim is planning to leave, he or she may go to great lengths to prevent this from happening. Therefore, coming up with an escape plan is essential before leaving to increase the chances of successfully getting out. This is especially true if the abuser is known to be violent. According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, a good escape plan can include the following:
- Telling a trusted family member or friend about the abuse and asking for help
- Memorizing the phone numbers and addresses of police stations and abuse shelters
- Keeping a record of physical attacks, including photographs of injuries caused by the abuser
- Putting emergency cash, clothing, documents and other belongings in a safe place unknown to the abuser, preferably outside the home
Once an escape plan is in place, it may help to obtain a protective order. Protective orders are temporary legal documents issued by the court that forbid the abuser from contacting or approaching the victims. This may give the victim more time to find a safe place to stay and to begin divorce proceedings. However, it is important to understand that a protective order does not guarantee safety. When seeking the order, it is wise to consider the abuser’s behavior and whether or not he or she would be likely to respect the law.
A network of advocates can make it easier to get out of an abusive marriage. This may include supportive friends and family, law enforcement, counselors and an Illinois family law attorney with experience in domestic violence cases.