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Creating an Escape Plan and Getting Help to Leave an Abusive Marriage

Not all unhappy marriages are created equal. While it can be difficult to end a marriage, getting out of an abusive relationship is especially challenging, for many reasons. Arizona residents who believe they or their children are being abused will need a careful escape plan, as well as allies, to help them find safety and peace. Countless people across the United States are victimized by intimate partners – those they should be able trust and love. Spousal abuse is a complex issue that can entail more than just physical harm, which can make it especially difficult to identify and escape from.

Recognizing abuse: Familial abuse can take many forms, but a main element of abuse involves control. An abuser will often use intimidation, threats and manipulation tactics to control his or her victims. Victims may be constantly afraid of the slightest misstep causing their abuser to lose his or her temper. An abuser can harm or threaten to harm children or pets, or destroy victims’ personal items, to maintain control. Abuse is not always physical, although an abuser who has never hurt his or her victims may unexpectedly become violent. Emotional, verbal, financial and sexual abuse are all tactics an abuser may use.

Making an escape plan: According to The National Domestic Violence Hotline, an escape plan is essential for leaving an abuser safely and effectively. Victims may include the following steps in their escape plan: Save a few hundred dollars in emergency cash and put it in a safe place the abuser does not know about. Put important documents, clothing and family heirlooms in storage or leave with a trusted person to access after the escape. Take pictures of injuries, save text messages and emails and document instances of abuse as evidence that the partner is being abusive. Ask people — supportive family members and friends, religious clergy, domestic violence workers and law enforcement — for help when the time for escape arrives. Upon leaving an abusive spouse, it may be wise to seek an order of protection. This is a court document restricting an accused abuser from contacting or going near the victim for a brief period before a formal hearing. Orders of protection may be extended if the judge is given sufficient evidence that the alleged abuser poses a threat to a spouse or children. Everyone has the right to live without the fear of being harmed by a spouse or parent. Abuse victims may be able to find hope for their future with the help of law enforcement, counselors and others, including Arizona family law attorneys with experience in domestic violence cases.