Domestic Violence: How to Leave a Dangerous Relationship

Family Law on Domestic Violence

How to Leave an Abusive Relationship

On average, 24 people per minute are victims of rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner in the United States. That’s more than 12 million people over the course of a year who will experience some form of domestic violence. If you are in a violent relationship, seek help immediately. The best chance for you to break the cycle of violence is to break free from the abusive situation – a task far easier said than done. We’re here to help you understand the best way you can leave your abusive spouse or significant other for good.

What to do if you live with your abuser

1. Make a safety plan

There are several resources you can use to help create a safety plan, including this step-by-step guide. The biggest focus is to make sure you can find a way to keep yourself and any others in the household safe.

2. Call the police

This can be extremely intimidating. Many abusers use intimidation as a tactic to keep those they’re abusing under their thumb. When you are being abused, find a safe spot to get away from your attacker and call the police immediately.

3. Attend a support group

It’s extremely beneficial for people in abusive family situations to know that they are not alone. Seek help, whether that’s a support group or temporary housing, at a trusted domestic violence shelter.

How to file criminal charges against your abuser

Filing criminal charges indicates to the abuser that violence will no longer be tolerated. It is strongly advised that you only file charges against the person if you fully intend on leaving them, as the abuse can get worse after charges are filed.

1. Start building a case against your abuser

  • Document all verbal or written abuse, such as threatening texts
  • Keep all medical reports of hospital visits related to abuse injuries
  • Dated photos of physical injuries caused by the abuser
  • Verbal testimony from witnesses

2. Contact the police

Make sure you are in a safe spot where your abuser cannot hear you talking to the police, as this often incites anger and makes it difficult to contact authorities. Let them know that you are in danger and need someone to come immediately. When they get there, tell them as much detail as you can about the current abuse going on.

3. File an injunction for protection

An injunction is a court order to protect you against a person who has been either physically violent toward you or has made you fearful of being physically hurt. The process occurs in civil court and is not part of criminal court. This is different from a “no contact” order. You can file the injunction with the Domestic Violence Court Clerk at the main courthouse in Hillsborough County or the courthouse in Plant City.

If the order of protection is violated by the abuser, you MUST contact the court immediately. Further legal action will be taken from there.

Leaving your abuser for good

This is easier said than done. Understand that you should not feel guilty about leaving your abuser or how long you stayed with them. The most important part of the process is choosing to leave at the safest time for you and your family. To find a domestic violence center, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline, or call them at 800-799-7233.  If you are in the Hilsborough County area, we recommend The Spring in Tampa Bay. Their 24-hour emergency hotline phone number is 813-247-7233 (SAFE).

If you live in the Tampa Bay area and have chosen to leave your abuser for good, we can help you through the divorce or separation process. Contact us now to move forward.