Checklist for Leaving an Abusive Husband

iwife and husband image by Jarek Miarka from

Victims of domestic violence often feel trapped by their situation. They fear leaving their abusers for a multitude of reasons, among them financial dependence on the abuser or the fact that they have children together. If you are in an abusive relationship, there is a way out. The success of your attempt to leave your partner depends on thorough planning. The more you think ahead and prepare for potential obstacles, the better your chances of leaving your abuser for good.

Gather Important Documents

Find an inconspicuous folder in which to store all your important documents. Martha Hill, writing for the Southwest Florida News Press, suggests a zippered leather Bible cover as a decoy. If you can't secure originals, make sure you at least have copies of your and your children's birth certificates, passports and Social Security cards. Other documents you may need include copies of your lease or mortgage, car title and proof of insurance, marriage license and health insurance information. Any immigration documents, such as green cards or work permits, should go in the folder, along with children's school and vaccine records. Last but not least, include a list of all important phone numbers and account numbers.

Open Bank Account

If possible, open your own bank account without your husband's knowledge before you leave. If physically going to a bank is impossible, look into opening an account online. Try to gather at least $500 in emergency funds, even if it means literally saving pennies in the pockets of a garment or a shoe in the back of your closet. Gather any jewelry or valuables you can sell and take them with you. Use a public computer in a library or community center to search for job prospects and make contact with a person you trust, preferably one who can lend you money or secure a credit card for you. Open a post office box to secure all important finance or work-related correspondence.

Contact Shelter

Purchase a pre-paid cell phone or calling card to communicate with a women's shelter. Ask if it will have clothing and toiletries available for you; if so, this is one less giveaway to your abuser that you're leaving. If you have pets, find out if the shelter will take them, or ask the shelter to help you find a caregiver. If you must communicate with the shelter in writing or by email, use a public computer and printer to do so. The shelter can give you a checklist of what to bring with you, but a few important items to take along are at least a one-month supply of any medications you, your children or your pets require, and photographs or a digital camera containing images of any injuries resulting from the abuse that any of you have at the time you leave.