No one should feel unsafe, and any abuse by an intimate partner — whether physical, sexual, emotional or verbal — is not normal or OK. An abuser may use intimidation, put-downs, stalking, isolate you from friends or family, or check your cell phone and computer to track your whereabouts. Emotional abuse often escalates to physical abuse.
If you are in an unsafe, abusive relationship, you might be thinking of leaving. Having a plan in place can help you get out safely later if you do decide to leave. Here are important steps and resources:
Start by telling someone you trust about the abuse. This can be a friend, loved one, healthcare provider or other close contact. You can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-SAFE (800.799.7233). Although it might be hard to talk about the abuse, know that you are not alone and there are people who can help you and provide support.
As you consider leaving, call a women’s shelter or domestic violence hotline for advice. Make the call at a safe time — when the abuser isn’t around — or from a friend’s house or other safe location.
Learn about and take precautions. Leaving an abuser can be dangerous. You may be advised to:
• Pack an emergency bag with needed items like extra clothes and keys. Leave the bag in a safe place.
• Keep important personal papers, money and prescription medications handy.
• Use ways to safeguard your privacy so that an abuser cannot monitor your telephone and online communication or track your location. For example, change your password frequently and always clear your browsing history.
• Know exactly where you’ll go when you leave and know how you will get there.
Check out these resources:
• Family Violence Prevention & Services Resource Centers — The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services offers the Domestic Violence Resource Network that includes culturally-specific resource centers
• The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Intimate Partner Violence
• Mayo Clinic: Know the signs of an abusive relationship and how to leave a dangerous situation
In an emergency, call 911 — or your local emergency number, law enforcement agency or someone you trust.
Or, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800.799.SAFE (800.799.7233), available 24/7.