Safety while living with an abusive partner
Living with an abusive partner is always difficult, but it tends to be especially difficult if you’re trying to get help or leave. Abuse is about power and control, and any efforts to regain power and control from your abusive partner(s) will likely cause them to escalate their tactics.
Remember that abuse your partner commits is never, ever your fault.
Sharing a home raises different emotions in a relationship, especially when you’re thinking about whether to leave. Breaking up and deciding where to live can be daunting but ultimately it’s a decision only you can make. Our main goal is for you to be safe, no matter what you decide.
If you’re not ready to leave or can’t leave safely, there are steps you can still take to prepare safer conditions for when you respond to moments of crisis.
- Document abuse that takes place with as much detail as possible. Write down dates, times, and the sequence of events, as well as any exact quotes or transcripts from the incident. If possible, take pictures or videos to document any injuries or damage as evidence of the abuse, and keep them stored somewhere your partner doesn’t have access to. Learn more about safety online.
- If you feel like abuse is about to occur, avoid areas without exits or where dangerous objects are stored, like the kitchen.
- Tell someone you trust about your situation, like a neighbor, friend or co-worker. They can help you build a support system outside of your home. Establish a code word with them to indicate when you need help discreetly. Make sure they know the code word and what they should or shouldn’t do in response, including who to contact.
- Create a safety plan. It could be unsafe to be in certain rooms in the home. Bathrooms and kitchens tend to be less safe due to hard surfaces. Create a safety plan to determine what rooms may be unsafe for you, do they have weapons in them? Perhaps it’s not a safe room. Let someone you trust who’s familiar with your home (like a friend, relative, or roommate) when you’re likely to be alone with your partner in these rooms, and what they can do to help if you need them. If it is safe, invite friends to come over if you feel you may be unsafe in your home.
- Memorize or keep a list of important numbers in your wallet, backpack, or purse in case you don’t have access to your phone.
- If possible, keep an “emergency wallet” with extra money and a calling card nearby at all times without your partner’s knowledge.
- Know and understand your rights. In some situations you MIGHT be able to get out of a lease if there is abuse. You may want to contact a local legal advocate.
- Find local resources and get help when you need it.
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