Someone asked if I had some advice for women who needed to leave in a hurry. In a hurry, meaning she's in a domestic violence or otherwise unsafe situation and it's time for her to go.
I have a few pieces of advice:
Leaving with Your Life is Most Important
#1 If you can leave, just leave and worry about the stuff later. Your safety is the most important thing. Once you are safe, let people know you need their help. You don't even have to tell them all the details. Go back with a group of people to help you pack (or better yet have friends and family do that for you so you don't even have to be present) and if needed you can involve local law enforcement, to ensure things stay peaceful.
I know that it can be hard to leave your things behind. The things that have meaning and comforted you, during a traumatic time. Sometimes your belongings are all that keep you going.
If You Have to Pack, Pack Light
So I have some tips for you also:
- Pack clothing for work, comfort, sleep and plenty of socks and underwear.
- Any medications or supplements
- Take the things that mean the most to you. Jewelry, family heirlooms, photos, and be sure to take your important documents. Social security cards, birth certificates, and your passport.
- Don't forget your toiletries.
- Having your favorite comfort items can make a big difference and keep some feeling of normalcy.
Take time off work to make it as simple as possible, that way you don't have to rush and forget something important and you have time to settle and adjust. During this time find a therapist, counselor, coach, support group…something positive that will help you heal and rebuild.
If you're able to secure a storage unit, in a friends name and store the remainder of your items until you are able to get yourself settled and stable.
When I left I didn't say anything. I didn't tell anyone, I didn't ask for help. Most people didn't even know I was being abused. I had a window of time and packed everything I could in my car and just left. I took all of my daughter's things and most of mine. The things that couldn't fit I left behind. It was a lot of things. Do you know what I missed most? My waffle iron. I love making breakfast, especially waffles.
Let the People Around You Help You, Don't Do It Alone
Looking back, I would have gotten help to ensure I didn't have to leave behind anything I love. That was a hard thing to do alone, but I'm glad I did it. For some women that isn't an option. If you are being watched and don't even have time to put together small things, start layering your clothes and leaving them at work or with a friend. Pick up little items at the Dollar Tree, and make yourself a toiletry kit that you can stash too.
Then when you are ready, make your exit. Domestic Violence claims the lives of so many women and children. I want you to leave with your life.
No matter what you may think, feel, or believe there are people who will help you and make sure that you and your kids are safe in the event you need to exit an abusive relationship. I didn't know that when I was younger, but now that I do it is my duty to tell you. The more you hide what is happening to you, the less people can help you.
Get Support to Deal with the Trauma of Abuse
Once you take that step, I would say seek some type of counseling or support. I didn't have that option and it took a long time for me to process what happened and heal. You are loved and you are supported.
Here are some phone numbers and resources to help: