By: Marilyn Gale Vilyus
First of all, if you are in immediate danger, please call 911 and/or get out of the door! We will figure all of the rest out later!!!
If you are not in immediate danger but this has been a past threat and you think it will be a continuing one, then assess the situation to determine your “emergency level.”
(Although spousal abuse can occur by and against both sexes, for my convenience as the writer of this article, I am going to assume the husband (or boyfriend) is the abuser.)
If you are afraid you will be abused fairly soon –- if the abuser is enraged and the situation is escalating, grab your kids (if you have children), throw them in the car and LEAVE immediately. Go to a family member’s house, woman's shelter, hotel, friend’s house, or police station, but get out!!!
If you are in a chronic abusive relationship, but there is no immediate threat, you have more time to formulate a plan. In this case, you can consider such issues as the following:
With whom will you stay – short term and long term?
Do you have immediate access to cash – and how much?
Can you call an attorney for an immediate appointment?
(If you have kids, you do not want your abuser to go to school to pick them up; you want an immediate temporary restraining order and, probably, also a protective order. An attorney can help you here.)
If you cannot afford an attorney, go to a woman’s shelter!
Can you research a list of “shelters” so that you are ready if an emergency develops?
Do you have an extra set of car keys and home keys hidden and easily accessible if you need to leave in a hurry?
Do you have a small bag packed with some clothes for you (and the kids), along with a supply of any medicines you or they might need or other "critical" items?
Do you have a list of phone numbers/addresses for your family, friends, children’s teachers/school principal, and other important contact information?
Do you have a copy of the medical records for you and your kids – including their immunization records?
Do you have the original or a copy (where applicable) of your important “papers?” This would include passports, deed to house, leasing agreement for apartment or car, car title, paycheck stubs for husband/boyfriend (and yourself!), monthly bills (gas, electric, water, phone, cellphone, internet, car insurance, etc.)? Do you have a copy of your last two years’ income tax returns? Do you have any information regarding your “retirement benefits” and those of your spouse? This should include stocks and stock options, etc.
Do you have a counselor (spiritual, psychologist, etc.) that you can rely on for support?
If you have to suddenly leave your home, do you know what school you will want to transfer your kids to – and how to contact them to enroll your children?
These are some of the issues you should consider – if you have the luxury of having the time to do so!
For more information, see also my article on “Battered Spouse Syndrome.”
Please know that we are here to help you! Don’t hesitate to call our office at 281.550.6650 to arrange for a free attorney consultation.