Leaving a spouse who has physically harmed you, threatened violence against you or your children, or otherwise abused you is a frightening and complicated process. Having a safety plan in place is essential. As you develop your plan, keep the following considerations in mind. If you are ever in immediate danger, call 911 right away.
Consider an Emergency Order of Protection
In Illinois, emergency orders of protection are granted based solely on the testimony of the petitioner, or person requesting protection. In other words, your spouse does not need to be present or even be aware of the fact that you are asking for an order of protection.
An emergency protection order can be customized to your specific needs. Most of the time, a protection order prohibits an abusive person from coming within a certain distance of the victim, contacting the victim through phone, e-mail, or social media, following the victim, or coming to the victim’s workplace or school. An emergency order of protection can also be used to temporarily evict a spouse from the marital residence. Setting up this legal protection creates a formal record of the abuse and gives you the right to call the police if your spouse violates any of the provisions of the order.
Get Help from Trusted Friends, Family, or Neighbors
Make sure that your trustworthy loved ones know that you are planning to leave your abusive spouse and are aware of the danger you are in. It may be beneficial to set up a code phrase with trusted loved ones that you could use on the phone or in person if your spouse is nearby. For example, you may set up a plan where if you say a certain keyword that your neighbor knows to call the police.
Document All Instances of Abuse, Harassment, And Intimidation
It is very important to have records of when and where the abuse has taken place. Consider keeping a journal or notebook somewhere that your spouse cannot find where you can write down instances of abuse. Record exactly what happened, when and where the incident occurred, and who was witness to the incident. If you have any physical injuries, such as scrapes or bruises, take pictures of your injuries. If you are seriously hurt and need medical care, keep records of any medical documentation.
Gather Important Documents and Information Now
Some abusers try to maintain control over their victims by hiding their driver’s licenses, Social Security cards, birth certificates, passports, or other essential documents. It may be a good idea to gather these items now and ensure that you can quickly access them if you need to leave in a hurry.
Write down or memorize phone numbers for friends and family you know you can count on. Your spouse may try to prevent you from leaving by taking your phone, so ensuring that these phone numbers are recorded elsewhere is important.
Contact our Kane County Divorce Lawyers
Our Kane County divorce attorneys can help you request an order of protection, petition the court for temporary custody of your children, and handle all other aspects of your divorce. We know that divorcing an abusive spouse is a very sensitive matter, and we are here to provide the legal help you need. Call [[title]] at [[phone]] to set up an initial confidential consultation.