Leaving Safely

Thinking about leaving is never easy. The idea of planning to leave can be overwhelming and you may feel many different emotions and conflicting thoughts and feelings.

If you feel leaving is something you need to do, please read this section to help you prepare to leave safely.

Leaving is the most dangerous time and leaving the person(s) who is causing you harm, does not mean the abuse will instantly stop. Leaving the abuse requires planning and we encourage you to call our NIDAS specialists for advice and guidance if, the person(s) who are causing you harm will be losing control when you leave. Their abuse is likely to become worse if they find out you are planning to leave or when you have just left. We can talk with you about your options as well as safety plan specifically to you and your needs.

If you feel you are not able to contact NIDAS, please do find another professional, a trusted friend or family member to talk with. Domestic abuse is never your fault, and you should not feel any shame in talking about it.

Before leaving, here are some things to consider:

Where are you going to stay after you leave?

Is it safe? Does the person you are leaving know the place you are planning to stay? Remember, the person you have left is likely to be doing all they can to try to contact you to get you to go back to them. If you feel refuge/safe accommodation is the option for you, you can call NIDAS.

• How and when are you going to leave?
Who needs to know? When is best time to leave without the perpetrator/s knowing you are leaving? What are the opportunities available to you?

What do you need to take with you?
Think about the things that mean the most to you as may not be able to return safely to get these items. It may be a plan can be made for you to return safely to collect some items in the future but if the perpetrator knows what items mean the most to you, it is highly likely these will destroyed/lost/hidden.

Things you must consider taking are items such as:

• Documents to evidence your identification – Birth Certificates, (and if you have children, theirs too), Passport, Bank card/s, drivers’ licence, Immigration documents etc.
• Copies of documents relating to your housing tenure – i.e., tenancy agreement, details of your mortgage.
Medication – have you got enough to see you through until you can organise how you can safely request and collect more.

Emergency Bag: Storing an emergency bag somewhere safe – i.e., friends or neighbours house, workplace, etc. To not raise any suspicion, it would be better to buy new items, or the perpetrator may notice items have been removed.
• Spare chargers for tech items.
• Toys and clothes.
• Spare pay as you go phone with important numbers programmed in.
• Photocopies of important documents

Organising Finances:
If you share a bank account with the perpetrator, it would of benefit if you are able, to talk with your bank prior to leaving to find out your options and how and when you should open a new bank account in your own name, without prior notification to the joint holder of the bank account. Since 2017 many banks had signed up to a ‘financial abuse code of practice’ which includes the training of staff. This means it is likely your bank will understand your situation and have compassion and work with you to make things safe and straight forward for you.

Set up a new email account that the perpetrator will not have access to – this can be used to receive correspondence from specialist advisors, banks, and other organisations you may need to contact when leaving. Ensure that your and your children’s social media accounts make full use of available privacy setting and that any location tracking applications are switched off.

Many people are unable to leave due to their pets. The fear of leaving our much-loved animals alone with the perpetrator is a risk many are not able to take. There is some support available if this one of the reasons you are unable to leave.

In Norfolk, the Dogs Trust provide their Freedom Programme where they will place your dog/s with foster carers. When you are ready, you will be able to be reunited with your dog again. Your dog will have good care and any vet treatment costs and food etc will be covered.

At this time in Norfolk, there is no equivalent service for cats or other pets. Please ask family or friends to see if they can safely look after your pets.