How I Left My Abusive Relationship
Earlier this year, I loaded up my car with my clothes, important documents, and the dogs. It took me three nights and four days. Leaving is not easy. According to the Houston Women’s Center, it takes a victim/survivor seven to nine times before permanently leaving the relationship. Only the survivor knows when this is the most dangerous time for them to leave. My tragic night was described in my previous post, but even I didn’t leave right away – I was scared. Scared of telling my family. Scared of not having a safety plan. Scared that I was 1500 miles away from home. I was scared.
BUILD A STRONG SUPPORT SYSTEM.
When I finally decided to leave my abuser earlier this year, I felt more alone than ever. The few friends that knew about the situation over the years had told me repeatedly to leave him. They even picked me up from the house (back when I lived in San Antonio) a few times to get away from the situation. I know they were frustrated with me beyond measure. They will never understand why I couldn’t leave. When that horrible night happened last year, I was living in Los Angeles and the rest of my family was in Texas. I finally came clean with my parents. It was hard but I’m glad I reached out to them. They were able to help me to the best of their ability to get me back to Texas. My heart knew I needed my family more than ever and was not in the right head space.
I know it’s easier said than done. Believe me, I have been there many times. I tried to leave my marriage so many times and he would always end up apologizing and I would believe him. If you sense you are in danger, leave. You can always go back later to get your belongings with a civil standby. Contact your local authorities. Let them know you are in danger and you don’t feel safe.
- Contact the National Domestic Abuse Hotline. (800)799-7233. They also have a chat option on their website. When I called them, they were able to provide useful resources and help me establish my own safety plan.
- Make copies of your car and house keys.
- Establish a codeword with your friends and family in case of an emergency.
- Have important documents available: marriage license, bank account information, your drivers license, a copy of your partner’s drivers license, social security numbers, pet records, insurance policies, and important phone numbers.
- Always have hidden money. I can’t emphasize this enough. My abusive partner ended cutting me off financially and I had no savings. I had to borrow money from friends and family to get me and my three dogs back to Texas.
- Small bag of clothing. Leave them with a friend, in your garage, or your car. Some place where you can get up and go.
- Let your family and friends know about your whereabouts. I highly suggest this app that you can download from the Apple Store called “Find My Friends”. My family was able to track where I was when I decided to make the trek back from Los Angeles back to Texas.
I wrote down a detailed itenarary down to the pit stops and dog-friendly hotels I planned to stay at. I stopped in Phoenix, El Paso, San Antonio and finally Houston. I drove for eight hours each day with a pit stop in between. When I would get to my pit stop/gas station, I would leave the car on with the AC on blast, run inside the gas station to relieve myself, go back to my car, turn my car off, leash up my dogs, let them out so they can relieve themselves, load the dogs back inside, and top off my gas tank. I would then grab a bite to eat somewhere nearby and continue my journey. I would perform the same process when I would check-in at a hotel. Traveling with three dogs alone was rough, anything could of happened to me, the car and/or the dogs. Not once did my abuser check on me and those actions reaffirmed he did not care about me or the dogs. “You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.”
Accept what is happening is real, rather than what might have been or was. It’s something I’m currently working on with therapy and self-care. Only your partner can stop the abuse. Only your partner can make the choice not to abuse others anymore. IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT.