No one deserves to be abused, and everyone deserves to feel safe. If you feel your life is in danger at this moment, do not hesitate to call 9-11. If you are safe enough to create an action plan before separating from an abuser, we suggest the following steps as part of your exit strategy. If you want to discuss your situation with trained support staff, please contact us.
Suggested exit strategy actions
- Acquire a trusted attorney. Legal Aid is a great free option for those in financial distress.
- Decide where you will stay when you’re ready to separate.
- Collect cash and if possible, purchase yourself gift cards for later use. Consider adding a $50 gift card to your grocery store purchases so that the money is slowly and safely stored.
- Keep a packed bag in a secret place, ready and accessible. The bag should include essentials for you and your children such as money, a phone charger, an extra set of keys, important documents, clothes, medication, and small valuables. Consider keeping this bag in your home, your car, at work, or with a trusted family member/friend.
- Open a bank account and credit card in your own name, linked to a safe address. This should be done at least a week in advance of separation, so your funds are available when they are needed.
- Contact TAF through our website
- Call the Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233
- Use a safe computer at work, the library, or a friend’s house where your internet history can’t be traced.
- Change all private account passwords and deactivate accounts that would trace your whereabouts.
- Bring your cell phone to a technician who will ensure your phone will not track your movements.
- Establish a code word, emoji, or signal with family or friends so they are alerted to call the police if you cannot.
- Review your safety plan often and with trusted sources so that you are prepared mentally and physically on the day of separation.
- Join TAF Women Connect , our private Facebook support group for women leaving domestic abuse and those who help them.
Suggested documents to acquire
If it is safe to do so, collect the suggested documents below or take photos of them, before separating.
- Birth certificates for you and your children.
- Social security cards for you and your children.
- Medical cards for you and your children.
- All bank account numbers and balances, credit union transactions, retirement accounts, and 401(k) information.
- Acquire an extra key for the safe deposit box and box information.
- Copies of car titles.
- Last 3 years’ income tax returns.
- Deeds to joint or individual property.
- Copies of outstanding loans, amount of monthly payments.
- Joint and individual credit cards with balances. Get your name removed from joint cards if possible, just before you separate.
- Paycheck stubs/direct deposit details for at least 2 months.
- Copies of your and the abuser’s signature cards at the bank, CDs and bonds.
- Copy of any Personal Protection Order (PPO).
- Copy of police report(s).
- Copies of all insurance policies, wills, trust funds, and pension and investment fund information.
- Abuser’s Social Security number, driver’s license number, work address and number; addresses and phone numbers of friends; license plate number, and recent clear photos.
- If you are safe to do so, take all personal monetary assets and half of all joint assets (for example, cash, bonds, checking account balance, savings account balance, internet bank balance (Paypal etc).