Spousal and child abuse is something that should never occur, yet tragically, countless people are abused by family members in Pennsylvania and across the country. At Louis Wm. Martini, Jr., P.C., we are aware of the complex problems you might face being married to an abuser. Recognizing that you are a victim of abuse is complicated enough. Asking for help and leaving the situation can be even more difficult. Fortunately, when you are ready to escape from an abusive marriage, there are allies you can turn to for help.
Before attempting to leave, however, you will need to create an escape plan to have the best chance of success. The National Domestic Violence Hotline points out that abusers usually go to great lengths to make it nearly impossible for their victims to get away. Your spouse might isolate you from family and friends, restrict you from getting a job or having transportation and even make you afraid for your safety. How, then, will you be able to leave?
You might carry out your escape plan in the following steps:
- Let someone you trust know about the abuse and ask for their help.
- Plan at least one safe place you and your children can escape to, such as a women’s shelter or a family member’s home.
- Take some time to gather cash, clothing, documents and other belongings you will need, and store them in a safe place your abuser does not know about.
- Document your spouse’s history of abuse and take photos of any injuries. Understand that an abuser does not have to be physically violent for your situation to qualify as abuse.
- Contact law enforcement and obtain a temporary protection order, which prohibits your abuser from contacting or going near you while it is in effect.
Once you have left your abusive spouse, you may then make further plans to begin the divorce process and start your life over. An abuse counselor, law enforcement and a family law attorney with experience in domestic violence cases may be valuable advocates during this difficult time. You can learn more about escaping abuse by visiting our page on domestic violence.