NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Leaving an abusive relationship is often the most dangerous time of an abusive relationship. News 2 has been working with organizations to bring you information on how victims can escape the danger.
Alex Denis spoke with an attorney on how planning an exit strategy with the help of professionals could be the difference between life and death when leaving a domestic violence situation.
“Before we do anything else, we want to make sure you’re safe,” says Alix Rogers, an attorney for Legal Aid Society, which is Tennessee’s largest non-profit law firm that provides free services to low-income and vulnerable people.
Safety is always the top priority for Rogers. He is one of 32 attorneys providing direct representation to thousands of people each year across 48 counties.
“We would pair you with an advocate who would sit down with you and make you a safety plan unique to your situation” he continues, “To make a plan to leave; to make a plan to stay safe, and then from there, we would talk about your legal options.”
The safety plan is well-thought-out detailing everything from what documents are vital to the best time of day or night to leave.
“Do you know where your keys are? Do you know where your passport is? Your important information that you have to leave the house with? If you had to leave in a hurry, how would you go? If someone broke into your house, what is the best path to get out?” Rogers lists several important questions that need answers before leaving.
Rogers says when you decide to take that step, do not share your intentions. Don’t even threaten you want to leave because it can set off an abuser. “At its core, it’s always about power and control.”
He also suggests erasing your digital footprint like previous web searches. Those may tip someone off to your leaving.
Create a code word and tell only your most trusted family member or friend, so when you use it, they know you’re in danger and to call police.
Once you leave, keep your whereabouts secret.
Stop all communication with your abuser.
Rogers says every single step plays a pivotal role, “It can keep you alive.”
Pre-planning can allow victims the chance to survive and thrive.
You can contact the Legal Aid Society at 800-238-1443. Find out more information by clicking on this link.
Tennessee Statewide Domestic Violence Helpline: 800-356-6767.