If you do not mind sharing, what state do you live in? I ask because this could make a difference in the responses.
Here is the exit/safety plan that I post for anyone in your type of situation. The list is geared more towards women who have little to no access to money. But I trust that you can tweak it for your situation.
Call 911 and they will help you get away.
If you are afraid your internet usage might be monitored call the national domestic violence hotline at 1 800 799 7233.
It is very hard to leave a marriage. Boy do I know that from experience. There is a way to make it easier… having a plan and having a strong support system. Just work your plan one step at a time. That way you are not look at a huge problem. Instead you are looking at small steps.
If you search on the internet for "domestic abuse exit plan" or "domestic abuse safety plan" a lot will come up that you can look over. The one below is one that I added some things to base on my own experience. Get a support system:
Set up a ‘safe address’ and ‘safe storage space’.
- Find a local organization that provides counseling and help for victims of domestic abuse (emotional and physical). Get into counseling with them. They will have sliding scale counseling.
- Also check into legal aid in your area.
- Talk to attorneys and do research on the internet to find out your rights in divorce. Check on sites like Amazon for books about divorce in your state. Be informed. Check out legal aid in your area. Ask the domestic abuse organization if they have a list of attorneys who do pro-bono work or very low fee work and how specialize in cases of divorce with domestic abuse. Most will have such a list. Many attorneys will give a half hour free consultation. If you have a good list of questions, you can learn about your rights and how the local court system handles specific issues. You might even find an attorney that you really like.
- Let a trusted family member, friend, coworker or neighbors know your situation. Develop a plan for when you need help; code words you can text if in trouble, a visual signal like a porch light: on equals no danger, off equals trouble.
- If you do not have friends of your own, start making them. Even if you don’t share your situation with them, just having a social outlet for you and even your children will help. One way to meet people is to go to www.meetup.com Search for meetup groups in your area. In most areas they have a lot of things to choose from. You just sign up and go.
- If you have a trusted friend/family-member, ask them if you can use their address for some things and if you can store some things at their place… like a box of important papers. If you do not have someone who will help you out in this way, rent a PO Box and a small storage space. Use the ‘safe addresses for your mail. Use the ‘safe storage space’ to keep important things you will need like:
- your mail from the ‘safe address’
- All account info and ATM card for your personal checking account
- Copies of all financial paperwork, filed tax forms, etc.
- Certified copies of birth certificates, marriage license, passports,
- Car title, social security cards, credit cards,
- Citizenship documents (such as your passport, green card, etc.)
- Titles, deeds and other property information
- Medical records
- Children's school and immunization records
- Insurance information
- Verification of social security numbers Make sure you know your husband’s Social Security Number and your son’s.
- Welfare identification
- Valued pictures, jewelry or personal possessions
Consider getting a job as soon as you can if you do not already have one. This will give you access to money and independence. Your safety Plan:
You need a safety plan just in case you need to leave immediately if things get out of hand.
After Leaving the Abusive Relationship
- Know the phone number to your local battered women's shelter.
- Keep your cell phone on you at all times for dialing 911. It’s best to dial 911. You need to establish a record of his abuse. So call 911 and start creating that record. If you think that it is not safe for you to leave, ask the 911 operator to send the police so that they can ensure your and your child’s safety when you leave.
- If you are injured, go to a doctor or an emergency room and report what happened to you. Ask that they document your visit.
- Keep a journal of all violent incidences, noting dates, events and threats made.
- Keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures.
- You can get a VAR (voice activated recorder) and keep it on you at all times when you are around your husband. This way you can get recordings of the abuse.
- Plan with your children and identify a safe place for them. Reassure them that their job is to stay safe, not to protect you.
- If you need to sneak away, be prepared. Make a plan for how and where you will escape.
- Back your car into the driveway, and keep it fueled. Keep your driver's door unlocked and other doors locked for a quick escape.
- Hide an extra set of car keys.
- Set money aside. Open a checking account in your name only and put your paycheck (or a portion of it) in that account. Do not use the address of the home you live in with him for this checking account. Use your ”safe address” to the account and keep all of the paperwork related to the account in your “safe storage space”.
- Pack a bag. Include an extra set of keys, IDs, car title, birth certificates, social security cards, credit cards, marriage license, clothes for yourself and your children, shoes, medications, banking information, money" anything that is important to you. Store them at a trusted friend or neighbor's house. Try to avoid using the homes of next-door neighbors, close family members and mutual friends.
- Take important phone numbers of friends, relatives, doctors, schools, etc.
- Know abuser's schedule and safe times to leave.
- Be careful when reaching out for help via Internet or telephone. Erase your Internet browsing history, websites visited for resources, e-mails sent to friends/family asking for help. If you called for help, dial another number immediately after in case abuser hits redial.
- Create a false trail. Call motels, real estate agencies and schools in a town at least six hours away from where you plan to relocate.
- If you get a restraining order, and the offender is leaving the family home:
- Change your locks and phone number.
- Change your work hours and route taken to work.
- Change the route taken to transport children to school.
- Keep a certified copy of your restraining order with you at all times.
- Inform friends, neighbors and employers that you have a restraining order in effect.
- Give copies of the restraining order to employers, neighbors and schools along with a picture of the offender.
- Call law enforcement to enforce the order.
- If you leave the family home:
- Do not leave your children with your abusive spouse/partner. Take them with you. Talk to your attorney and/or the abuse organization counselors to make sure you do this in a way that will not jeopardize your future custody rights. You don’t want to look like you are kidnapping your children.
- Consider renting a post office box or using the address of a friend for your mail. Be aware that addresses are on restraining orders and police reports. Be careful to whom you give your new address and phone number.
- Change your work hours, if possible.
- Alert school authorities of the situation.
- Consider changing your children's schools.
- Reschedule appointments if the offender is aware of them.
- Use different stores and frequent different social spots.
- Alert neighbors, and request that they call the police if they feel you may be in danger.
- Talk to trusted people about the violence.
- Replace wooden doors with steel or metal doors. Install security systems if possible. Install a motion sensitive lighting system.
- Tell people you work with about the situation and have your calls screened by one receptionist if possible.
- Tell people who take care of your children who can pick up your children. Explain your situation to them and provide them with a copy of the restraining order.
- Call the telephone company to request caller ID. Ask that your phone number be blocked so that if you call anyone, neither your partner nor anyone else will be able to get your new, unlisted phone number.
Here are some ways you can find out things about your finances and some about how you can start saving money in your own name. I’m not putting them on the open forum because I don’t want to tip off people who are abusers.
Some of this might sound crazy. But you are completely in the dark and these are ways that people I know, even I, got the info we needed so that our spouse could not rip us off in a divorce.
Check his wallet and get photographs of any cards and other info that he has in there to include his driver’s license. Make sure to save them somewhere that he cannot get to, like on the cloud.
If he has a brief case do the same thing to it. Do you have a scanner at home? If not get one. I have a small portable that’s easy to use. That’s all you need. Just scan everything in his briefcase into pdf or jpgs. And again keep that info in a cloud account.
If you do use a cloud account, make sure that it does not create an account on your PC that he could see. There is a way to prevent that.
Does he have a home office or a place at home where he works sometimes? If so search it (often). Check the trash.. (I found out all kinds of stuff about my husband by searching his trash. Like I found letters from his affair partner. That’s how I found out about one of his affairs. I also found receipts and statements showing that he was moving money that I earned into accounts and investments in his and his mother’s name.
Another thing that you might want to try is to go through the trash from his business if you can get to it. Just snatch the bags of trash out of the trash bin into your car, take them some place where he will not see you go through it and search. I kid you not, you can find stuff.
Get a key to his car. Make one if you need to. Then search it often. Search every cranny. Again I found all kinds of info that way. My then husband was hiding papers in the well where the spare tire and tools go. When he traveled, I drove to the airport, found his car in long-term parking and searched it. He was using his car to hide things while he traveled.
Get online and order his credit report. It could lead to all kinds of info on accounts he has.
Search the court records for any law suits. If he has a business, it might have been sued and he might have had to disclose financial info. Here where I live there is a website for the state of New Mexico where we can search on a person’s name to find all court cases of any kind… to include if they were sued, arrested and charged, divorced, etc. I’m sure that New York has something similar.
If you have access to a computer that he uses, put a key stroke monitor on his computer. A very good one is Webwatcher. It captures every keystroke and takes screen shots. Then it sends the information to your account on their website. So you don’t even need to get on his computer after the software is installed. You will be able to get passwords, account numbers, etc. this way.
Make sure that you take an inventory of everything of value in your home. Take photos of everything. And do a walking inventory through the house. That way he cannot hide or dispose of things of value during a divorce.
Now about money
Then open bank accounts in your name only. Use an address other than your home address. Also do electronic statements, etc. so that there is no paperwork for him to find. You can open a bank account with as little as $25.
If at all possible, every time you go to a store, get out cash. Even if it’s $10. I know a woman who did this. She’d get out between $40 and $60 with every purchase. It added up… to thousands over a few year period. Make sure that you throw away the receipts before you get home or keep them where he cannot find them. Do not put them in your home trash.
Go through your house and sell anything that you can. Just tell him that you are wanting to simplify your life and declutter. List things on craigslist and sell it. Put the money in your bank account.