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How to Get Out of an Abusive Relationship

Whether the abuse you are suffering is emotional, physical, or both, you need to leave. Now. Find out how in this Howcast video.


  • : Statistics show women are most at risk of domestic violence when they attempt to leave their abusive spouse or boyfriend, so take all possible precautions.
  • Step 1: Get help If the abuse is physical, call The Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). They can provide both advice and assistance. Your local YWCA also has counselors who can help you.
  • Step 2: Clear your browser history If you are using online resources to find help, clearing your browser history will make it harder for your abuser to track what you're doing. Click Clear History in the Toolbar at the top of the screen.
  • Step 3: Get counseling If the abuse is emotional, get counseling, either alone or with your partner.
  • TIP: Verbal abuse often escalates to physical violence.
  • Step 4: Tell loved ones Tell trusted loved ones if you are being abused. Many women keep their situation a secret out of shame, and that puts them in greater danger.
  • Step 5: Have a safety plan If you are living with your abuser, figure out a safe place to go. If you can't stay with friends or relatives or afford your own housing, contact a women's shelter.
  • Step 6: Gather important documents Gather as many important documents as you can before you leave, like birth certificates, passports, social security cards, marriage license, leases, deeds, insurance policies, medical records, bank account information, and police or hospital reports of abuse. Pack any medication you'll need.
  • TIP: Stockpile some cash if you can so you'll have a way to pay for necessities that is not traceable.
  • Step 7: Establish a code word Establish a code word with friends, family members, and coworkers so you can signal them if you're in immediate danger.
  • Step 8: Time your escape Plan to leave, either with family and friends escorting you out, or with enough time so that you'll have time to get to your safe destination before your abuser knows you're gone.
  • Step 9: Know the limits of a restraining order Get a restraining order, but know that approximately half of them are violated. So take other precautions as well, like avoiding being alone, varying your routine, and letting your employer know that your ex is not welcome.
  • FACT: Boys who witness domestic violence are twice as likely to abuse their own partners and children when they grow up.

You Will Need

  • The Domestic Violence Hotline
  • Counseling
  • Confidantes
  • A place to stay
  • Important documents
  • Medication
  • A code word
  • Careful timing
  • A restraining order
  • A YWCA (optional)
  • Cash (optional)

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