Survival steps: 3 things to do when leaving an abusive spouse

On Behalf of | Feb 22, 2024 | Divorce

When you’re in an abusive relationship, leaving can be hard. By design, abusers are very good at isolating their victims from the financial, emotional and physical tools they need to leave the relationship.

In reality, the most dangerous time for a victim in an abusive relationship is right when they try to leave or shortly after – since that triggers all of the abuser’s insecurities about control. This means having a plan or “exit strategy” in place before you make your exit, whenever possible. Here are some steps you can take both before and after you leave:

1. Start stashing away money and important documents

If you’re able, start hiding small amounts of cash somewhere that your spouse won’t find it – whether that’s inside the pages of your favorite book or at a friend’s house. You also need to get any important papers that you may need, such as birth certificates for yourself and your children, passports and other documents that are hard to replace.

2. Do not make your plans on a family computer or phone

If your spouse has access to your laptop or phone, avoid using them to communicate with anybody who is helping you, research places to live or look up any legal information. Your spouse may search your history – or they may have put software on your devices that can track your keystrokes. Either get a “burner” phone to message anybody who is helping you or use a safe computer, like one at the local library to do your research.

3. Take steps to cover your tracks once you leave

Since leaving is likely to provoke your spouse into a rage, you want to make yourself hard to find. That means:

  • Only trusting a very select group of people with information about your whereabouts
  • Abandoning your old email accounts and social media accounts
  • Getting a new cell phone (in case there is tracking software on yours) and number
  • Having your mail directed to a Post Office box or the house of a friend or relative
  • Using two-factor identification on all your online accounts
  • Changing banks, grocery stores and favorite hang-outs

Essentially, you want to do everything you can to simply “disappear,” and that means stepping outside of all your routines and doing things in a way that your spouse cannot anticipate.

When you’re making a tough decision and you want to leave an abusive spouse, it can be easier with the right legal guidance. Understanding your rights in a divorce can help you make better plans for your future.

At The Law Firm of Poppe & Associates, PLLC, our focus is relentless advocacy for our clients. If you or someone you know is considering divorce, reach out to schedule a consultation at 646-665-3903 or by contacting us online.

Let Me Be Your Brave

Mia Poppe, Esq.

Mia Poppe, Esq.
Managing Partner