Staying Safe: After Leaving an Abusive Relationship
It has been one year since Marissa Grimes was able to escape her abuser with the help of her father.
Marits (my nickname for her), this is the day you showed incredible strength- you took a stand for right and wrong. You were held against your will and was tortured for a week, and despite all of it, you were still strong enough to make a report and press charges.
You showed him, that you were not someone to mess with. What he did was wrong, that of a monster, and it comes with consequences.
What none of us knew, was how bad our justice system would fail to protect you…
Your father did everything right by moving you hours away to protect you. He knew that piece of paper (restraining order) would not protect you when they allowed the monster bail.
I want readers to understand, it is important to report charges, still request a restraining order, but you must protect yourself despite it.
Even though we lost Marits at the hands of this monster, I want to give you ways to stay safe from yours.
1. The most important thing- CHARGES.
When you file a restraining order, if plan on moving or you are going into hiding, do NOT put your new address on there. They include all addresses on the order and your abuser will see the new location. You DO NOT want that.
I made the mistake, years ago, by placing my new address on my restraining order. He would drive by almost daily, and a few times, caught me outside and stopped. Not only does it jeopardize your life and safety- mentally it is torture. I had to relive, over and over, the night I almost lost my life to a man I loved. The same damn man who is standing in front of me, at an address I thought would be safe at. I had to play into his mind games when he showed up just to stay safe. I would call and report this to the detective, but never got a call back. Just don’t make the same mistake as I did.
You need to file the charges, document everything, place that restraining order. You have to have it, to build that case against them. You need that proof in case something happens to you.
2. Emergency custody.
If you share children with your abuser, file for emergency custody the next morning. This helps secure the safety of the children. This is not a game of who gets who, this is protection. The judge will be able to look at the case, the abuse that was suffered, and come up with what is best for the children. Be mindful, if you do NOT take steps to protect yourself and your children, they could be placed with foster family until their safety is assured.
3. Mindset is everything.
One of the most common things that happen, is victims returning to their abusers. It is not their fault for doing so, and you can read the science behind how the brain structure changes here. Sometimes, they even return, to protect someone else because threats have been made to harm someone else.
I would say it is around the two-week mark, where victims start to stumble. Family and friends, that have never been through this do not understand why it is taking the victim so long to ‘get over it.’ The support starts to lessen and then the victims doubt kicks in.
If this is you, know there are places you can turn too! Strangers who have been there understand. Seek a support circle and do not feel bad for needing the help. The person you loved abused you. The one you were supposed to spend the rest of your life with and now that is over. Anyone would need support, and adding abuse to that, makes it so much more harder.
4. Pick your weapon of defense
I wrote an article of how to fight back, I urge to read it sometime.
You must sit down, alone, in the quiet and really think about what will happen if your abuser shows up. Will you fight back? You need to think of the worst-case scenario. If your abuser is there to kill you, would you be able to protect yourself and do what needs to be done to save your life? The goal is always to incapacitate them and run, but in some cases, it will be your life or theirs. Once you have established how you are going to fight back, next is the weapon in which you choose. You can choose more than one as well.
The most important thing I can tell you is to carry the weapon on your body. Not just your purse. The abuser will grab your purse and throw it, so it is just you and them. One on one. So go to a gun store and try on different types of holsters. Find a good knife store and do the same. Whatever is legal for you by state, use it. You have options.
5. Alarm system options
I swear by alarm systems that have cameras, but I know sometimes that does not fit within the budget. Amazon has tons of camera options to help that are within reason. Home Depot and Lowes has alarms that you can place on windows and doors that will wake the neighbors. Let the neighbors know what is going on and put a plan together with them if they are willing to help. Some examples of what I mean by that:
· If any alarm goes off, and the neighbor hears, make it known that they need to call 911.
· Sleep with your car keys, hit the panic button if the abuser shows up. So, your neighbors know to call 911 in case you can’t.
· If you see your abuser in the front of your house trying to get in, exit the back with everyone. Keep a crowbar by the fence and pop off a few fencing slots and hop in the neighbor’s backyard to hide. You can replace those pieces easily- you can’t your life. Make sure the neighbor is okay with and knows the plan.
Do not feel embarrassed, share with your neighbors, so they can help keep a watch and keep you safe.
6. Social media
Use this to your advantage.
Make a fake profile. Add generic pictures and make posts regularly. What I mean by generic pictures, is grab pictures of someone who is facing away from the camera (stock photo), post pictures of landscapes, food with comments and positive quotes. Add people to your friends list, even the abuser. This allows you to see and watch what they say, especially if they make a dark post and something along the lines of them about to do something ‘big.’ If the abuser uses SC and shares their location this is the biggest tool. You can see if they are coming for you by their location.
I know this is straight up stalker feels, but you must do whatever to keep your life safe.
7. Ways to protect evidence
Create an email and give the sign in information to trusted family and friends. Email pictures, voice recordings, videos, screenshots to the email you made. You can even do this on social media. Privately message your trusted people these same things. Delete the evidence from your phone because they are now safe in the email and messages you sent. Your people will know, if something happens to you, they hold the evidence to give to the police.
8. Safe drop off, pick ups
Write a note and keep it in your wallet. If you feel like something is up, hand that note to a stranger. It can be something like “I left an abusive relationship, and I do not think I am safe, please call 911.”
For those that share custody of children, choose pick up and drop off places that are public only. Set it at the police station, a shopping center parking lot, a gas station. Go in and buy something, a pack of gum, a drink, so the cameras pick you up. If you feel like something is off, this is your chance to hand off the note. Never ever meet somewhere that is not public or does not have cameras. Taking a friend with you to a house, and not going inside, is not enough.
9. Doctor appointments
If you are in a relationship that is abusive, go to the doctor. I know people stay because they feel like they can’t leave. Know right here, there are places you and children can stay to get away. But if for whatever reason you are staying, make sure you have that evidence. Use the excuse of a UTI, a sinus infection, yeast infection, earache, whatever you think of use it. When you are face to face with the doctor, tell them what is really going on so they can also document it on their side. If you are not allowed to leave the home, make a virtual appointment for when the abuser is at work or asleep.
10. Document everything
I have said this above, but it is important. Record and gather evidence. It is one of the most important things you can do for you and your case. If they can do this to you, they will to children, and other partners after you. It becomes your responsibility, in a sense, to make sure this abuser stays behind bars. It is unfair that this has happened to you, and now you have to fight to stay alive, but I promise you can do this. It becomes empowering when you stand up and fight for your rights as a human. You deserve better and you show that by fighting back.
Next month, will be the one-year anniversary from when Marits was taken from us.
My goal will always be to honor her the best way I can and that is to fight and help others. Together we can fix this.