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If you're in an abusive relationship, you know that the only sure road to safety is to get out and put some distance between yourself and your abuser.

Unfortunately, the mere act of leaving can actually make your situation more dangerous -- at least for a while. Here are a few things that every abused individual needs to know about making their way out of the situation.

1. The odds of being assaulted rise when a victim decides to leave

Domestic violence is about having power and control over another human being. When a victim announces that he or she is leaving the abuser, that represents the ultimate loss of that power and control. Some abusers simply can't handle the prospect, and they lash out with extreme violence. In fact, the United States Justice Department says that the risk of violence is about 500 times higher than at any other time.

For example, a 67-year-old California woman was killed by her 69-year-old husband after she served him divorce papers and stayed behind to talk. He responded to the news that she was finally leaving him by shooting her.

2. It's smart to keep your abuser at a distance as early as possible

For many domestic violence victims, the safest course of action is to turn to an attorney for assistance. An attorney can help you obtain a temporary protective order that will oblige your abuser to keep away and can arrange for service of the divorce papers in a way that won't put you in physical contact with your abuser.

3. It's also smart to have a safety plan in place

If you're leaving an abusive relationship, it's wise to anticipate trouble. Some of the ways that you can protect yourself include:

  • Keeping your plans to leave entirely to yourself (and your attorney) until you make your exit.
  • Obtaining a new bank account (at a new bank) and a post office box to which you can have your mail forwarded (so that you are harder to track down).
  • Obtaining a place to stay in a shelter or with friends or relatives that your spouse doesn't know how to locate.
  • Putting money aside so that you can provide for your immediate needs once you leave.

If you're ready to leave a bad domestic situation, contact our office directly to see if we can help.

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