5 Ways to Be Safe During a Divorce or Domestic Dispute
Are you considering divorce or separation after a history of domestic disputes? If so, you may feel scared, lonely, and uncertain about staying safe during a divorce. Unfortunately, domestic violence and divorce too often go hand in hand, and the risk of domestic violence is especially high during the divorce process.
But there is hope, and you can protect yourself. Keep reading for five tips to stay safe during a high-conflict divorce.
Tip #1: Create a Safety Plan
A safety plan for domestic violence victims can help those who have been abused to quickly navigate an escalating situation. So, before you do anything else, create a safety plan that includes the following:
● a list of safe places to go,
● people you can call for help, and
● steps you can take to protect yourself and your children.
Visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline's website for free templates, tools, and information to help create your safety plan.
You can also call them at 1-800-799-7233 or text START to 88788.
Tip #2: Secure Your Home to Stay Safe During a Divorce
With your safety plan in hand, it's time to take action. Here are five steps you can take to feel safe in your home.
1. Install a security system. Deter your abuser from coming to your home and provide yourself with peace of mind. This may include audio or video recording.
2. Change the locks on your doors and windows — even sheds and other outbuildings. Add an extra security bar to any sliding glass doors. This will make it more difficult for your abuser to get into your home without your permission. Reprogram your garage door opener.
3. Let your neighbors know you are in danger. They can be on the lookout for your abuser and help you if needed. If you are in an apartment, make your landlord or property management office aware.
4. Keep a copy of your safety plan with you at all times. Make sure you have it handy during an emergency. This may include a copy of a Domestic Violence Protective Order.
5. Stay aware of your surroundings. If you feel unsafe, trust your gut and leave the situation. And if you need one, don’t be afraid to file a restraining order.
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Tip #3: Document the Abuse
Whether you plan to file a Domestic Violence Protective Order (also known as a restraining order or 50B) — or you need to build a case for divorce court — it's essential to document everything! Here are a few tips to consider.
● Keep a journal of any incidents of abuse. Include dates, times, and descriptions of what happened. You should also include descriptions of any injuries you sustained and any witnesses to the abuse. Take photos/ videos of any injuries or damage to property.
● Take pictures or videos of any injuries or damage to your property. Evidence like this is beneficial in court.
● Keep copies of medical records, police reports, or restraining orders. These documents also count as evidence in court. If you have one, keep your 50B on you at all times.
● Tell someone you trust about the abuse. If someone else knows about the abuse, they can serve as a witness in court. Call 911 in the event of domestic violence.
Tip #4: Establish a Support System
Talk to friends, family, or a therapist about what you're going through. A strong support system can help you stay safe and cope with the stress of a divorce or domestic dispute.
Let those closest to you know about the divorce and any potential risks or concerns you may have about your safety. Share essential details, such as any restraining orders, divorce motions, or court orders in place to keep you safe during a divorce.
Tip #5: Get Legal Help
A family lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and options, and they can represent you in court if necessary. If you need a restraining order, divorce protections, or have questions about a domestic dispute vs. domestic violence, it’s essential that you work with a skilled attorney who can help you navigate the process.
From filing your protective order to determining custody agreements and every step in between, your caring team at Spidell Family Law is here to help you.
Don't leave your safety and future to chance.