Not only is divorce the time when people show their worst side, it can also be the most dangerous time in an abusive relationship. When an abuser begins to feel he is losing control of his or her spouse is when the most violence occurs. The Georgia Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-334-2836.
It’s important to carefully evaluate your situation and decide how best to proceed with initiating a divorce when any kind of abuse has occurred. Verbal abuse and control is abuse. Abuse rarely gets better and usually escalates. Getting counseling to ascertain your desires and to evaluate your options is wise prior to talking divorce to an abusive spouse. In addition, making a safety plan for you and any children involved is necessary.
Even if you feel that your partner will never be abusive to you again, it’s important to be prepared. Have a safety plan in place in case you need to flee.
- Tell someone you trust about the abuse.
- Decide how you and your children will get out.
- Make a plan for how you can escape from each room in your house, in case of emergency.
- Set aside emergency money, cash if possible.
- Create a false trail.
- Create an escape route from your place of employment.
- If you need help in a public place, yell “FIRE” as this draws more attention than “HELP”.
- Teach your children how to dial 911 and where to go in an emergency.
Remember, the Justice Café is your safe source for legal advice. Starting at $75 you can receive help with paperwork as well as the legal counsel you need to keep your family safe. Knowing where you stand legally and what steps to take will give you additional security. When you are able, contact us for a confidential appointment to determine your legal rights. You don’t want to have to navigate the court system alone and you don’t want an abusive spouse to take advantage of you.
And, in addition to the above, stash an emergency suitcase either in your home or with a trusted friend so that if you need to make a sudden escape you have the necessary items to do so. When it’s possible, original documentation is preferred, however, copies are helpful in a pinch. NOTE: In an emergency, get out right away! Only if you have time, gather and keep the following, or copies, in a safe place.
Here is a short list of what to pack in your emergency suitcase (again, if you have time):
- Protective Order
- ATM and Credit Cards
- Driver’s License and Registration
- Social Security Cards
- Green Card, VISA, or Work Permit
- Cell Phone and Charger
- Important addresses & phone numbers
- Medical Records
- Your Partner’s Social Security Number
- Insurance Policies
- Important Legal Documents
- Change of Clothing
- Birth Certificates, Marriage Licenses, Wills
- School Records
- Police Records (if reported)
- Spare Car Keys
- Special Personal Items (Photos, Jewelry, etc.)
The Georgia Domestic Violence Hotline is 800-334-2836, available 24 hours every day. They provide support, advice, and shelter. In addition there are potentially free legal resources with Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers, Partners Against Domestic Violence, and Cobb Legal Aid. These resources are confidential and do not charge for their services. These organizations have great experience at providing resources, support networks and safety planning. They can help either independently or with Justice Café attorneys working in partnership with them. The Justice Cafe will afford-ably supplement those free resources and can provide the family law assistance that isn’t readily available for free or at a comparable rate.