Leaving an abusive relationship when you live together

Teal door opening to the outside

If you’ve decided it’s time to leave an abusive relationship, you may be wondering what to do next. Whether the abuse was emotional, physical, or both, it’s a good idea to plan for how to move on safely.

Before we get into that, take a moment to acknowledge how strong you are for taking care of your needs. It’s not always easy to recognize and take action when we’re being treated poorly. You deserve to be treated with love and respect, and you’ve already taken the first step on that path.

So here are some things to consider as you move forward:

Remember your why

Make a list of all the reasons why you’re leaving your abuser. Keep it with you and look back at it when you need some extra courage or motivation.

Have a safety plan.

Every person’s situation is unique, which means every safety plan is different.  Depending on your situation, you may want to gather up any important documents like your passport, identification cards, credit cards, etc., and store them somewhere your abuser can’t find them. You could also put spare keys, backup prescription medications, and any other small items you need to protect in there. If you want help making your personalized safety plan, please call our 24-Hour Helpline at 425-746-1940 or 800-827-8840. Staff and volunteers can walk you through strategies for addressing your biggest safety concerns.

If you don’t feel your situation calls for this level of security, you may instead want to create a self care plan. Include things like which friend or family member to call if you need to vent, a playlist of songs that make you feel strong and centered, and a list of activities that calm you when you are stressed. If you need some ideas for this, check out these tips on how to make your own self care box.

Tell someone.

It’s a good idea to let someone you trust know what’s going on. You don’t have to share more than you’re comfortable with, but in case there’s an emergency during or after your departure, it’ll be helpful if someone knows to check up on you. You may even want to have a friend present while you’re moving out.

Stay somewhere safe.

Once you leave, find a safe place to stay where your abuser can’t find you. This could be a friend or family member’s home, a new apartment of your own, or a women’s shelter in your area. If you need help finding a safe place to go until you get back on your feet, we can help.

Block them.

Cutting off contact with your abuser can help prevent them from things like stalking you, harassing you, or trying to convince you to return to them. If possible, block their phone number, email address, and social media accounts so they can’t reach you.

Change your passwords.

If you suspect your abuser may have had access to any of your online accounts, including email, social media, and banking, change your passwords ASAP.

Stay safe at work.

Depending on your situation, you may want to let your employer know that you’ve left your abuser. If you’re worried about them showing up at your workplace, your manager may be able to transfer you to another department, or be on the lookout for suspicious activity.

Talk to someone.

As a survivor, it’s normal to have a lot of feelings, questions, and concerns. Some survivors encounter symptoms like anxiety, depression, or PTSD after leaving abusive relationships. Others may need assistance finding safe housing or affordable legal resources. You may also wish to report your abuser. No matter your situation, you deserve to be supported on your journey. You could consider talking with a therapist, or you can reach one of our helpful advocates 24/7 at 425-746-1940 or 800-827-8840.