Getting Out Alive: 6 Tips for Women & Children Suffering From Domestic Abuse

According to the United Nations, more than a third of women have suffered physical or sexual violence. In the United States alone, 12 million men and women face abuse at the hands of their intimate partners. In addition to this, half of the women murdered around the world in 2012 died at the hands of partners and family members.

Children also suffer in abusive households. The CDC notes that in 2017, child protective service agencies identified 674,000 children who were neglected, abused, or both by their parents. Another 1,720 died from these conditions.

When people see these abstract numbers, the initial thought may be that of surprise or horror, but the numbers are quickly forgotten. This is just one of the many reasons I share the dark details of my own experience with child abuse and spousal abuse. An insider view paints a much more vivid picture and leaves a longer lasting impression.

With that in mind, two weeks ago, I wrote an article about parental alienation that also touched heavily on domestic abuse:

WERE YOU A VICTIM OF PARENTAL ALIENATION? I WAS. HERE’S THE STORY OF HOW IT BACKFIRED.

In the article, I mostly focused on parental alienation. However, it was impossible to tell the story without including the abuse that came with it. Since then, people have reached out to my via text, Twitter, and on this blog sharing their own personal experiences with child abuse, spousal abuse, and parental alienation.

In this article, I will share tips on how to escape or survive domestic abuse. Please note that I am not an expert in this field. All of these tips are based on my own anecdotal experience coupled with what I learned in college psychology and sociology classes. You know your situation and abuser best and will need to act accordingly to protect yourself and any minors you are responsible for.

1. Document Everything

In the article referenced above, I shared how I took Polaroid pictures of my destroyed home and beaten body. I don’t remember what first spurred me to take these pictures. It never occurred to me at first that I would ever need them or that my grandmother would bring them with her into a family court room, but that is exactly what happened.

However, I also didn’t plan for my biological father to find them, which he did before I stole them back. Even when he made threats to coerce me into returning my passport and other documents which I had given to my grandmother, he neither acknowledged nor asked for the photos.

How could he? To ask for them was to admit they existed. Your abuser may be more brazen about their actions, so be careful. My abuser was always concerned with saving face and sparing his reputation.

Photos aren’t the only documented evidence you can have. You could also put cameras around the house for “home security” and store incidents in the cloud. But again, be careful about these being found. Finally, I also kept a journal which rarely, if ever, left my person.

Unless your abuser is a hacker or knows one, I would recommend encrypting your journal and storing it in the cloud via an email address he doesn’t know about. Do not use that email address for anything else. Provide access to one trusted person outside of the household just in case anything ever happens to you.

2. Gather Your Witnesses

When I first began to speak out about the abuse I faced, I was met with negative responses. Even my mother did not at first believe that after she left, he had turned his hatred to me. It took my grandmother reiterating the same stories for her to believe me. They then became the only two adults who did.

I also told friends at school. They believed immediately because they saw the marks for themselves. Had my best friend not at first discovered the bruises, I might have continued to suffer in silence for years longer, because I did not view even near-death parental discipline as abuse. I had to be enlightened of that fact by other students.

Another tactic I used was to keep people on the phone during some of these incidents. My mother remained on the phone for the chase that sent me running down a hill to the sea at ungodly hours, trying to escape the man my readers now know as Judas. I also kept my best friend on the phone the day he drowned our puppy Simba outside my bedroom window to spite me.

These people may be able to act as witnesses on your behalf in the future. However, not everyone will agree to do this when the day comes, so choose your witnesses wisely.

3. Get the Police Involved

One of the greatest sins I allegedly committed as a teenager was to call the police on my biologocial father i.e. Judas. I never lived this down. It came up in every family meeting with his side of the family and I was frequently called the wicked, spoiled, and ungrateful teenager as a result.

The funny thing is, I have never called the police on Judas, nor have I ever filed any report against him. My grandmother did — at least twice. But, I was on the same property both times that she did and so when he looked around blindly for someone to cast the blame on, it fell on me. That said, in one of those instances, my grandmother used my cell phone and neither times did I object to her calling.

Note that there is always a risk with getting the police involved. You will need to be able to cover your tracks. If you develop a friendship with the neighbours, encourage them to discreetly call the police if they notice a domestic disturbance.

But, why risk retaliation from your abuser by doing this? You may need to have it on record that the police was called to your residence at least once for domestic abuse, assault, or some other altercation even if you never press charges.

I received this advice from a police officer when Judas’ nephew started to stalk me after college graduation, which is a story for another day. He, however, advised women to file a report.

4. Save Every Penny

When women are financially dependent on their partners, the chances of becoming abused increases. In fact, according to a 2014 study published by the William & Mary Law School, a batterer is empowered by his partner’s financial dependence on him, which further allows him to restrict her autuonomy.

You may at first think of a woman who is a homemaker, when you think of a woman who is financially dependent on her spouse. However, sometimes women bringing home six-figure annual salaries may become victimised if their partner manages their income and has access to their financial accounts.

Whether you work or not, you will need to save every penny you can to escape. Every woman should always have a bank account her spouse knows absolutely nothing about. This is one of the best pieces of advice my mother ever gave to me, and I pass it on to you.

Note that most jobs will allow you to split your direct deposit, so that only a portion goes to your main bank account. If you get a raise, make a request to put the extra into that secret account. Do not keep any paperwork related to this lying around, such as the form used to make the formal request.

If you do not work, you may need to scrape what you can from the money you get to purchase groceries or run small errands. You may also consider secretly selling items and saving the money. If possible, do not keep the cash in the house. These men are professional stalkers. They will search everything and they will find it. You will need that money to escape and they know it.

5. Plan Way Ahead

Don’t just leave the moment the idea springs into your head. You will have to find an opportune moment. In my Mom’s case, she left under the pretext of following a job opportunity overseas. When I moved out, I used no pretext. You will need to figure out what approach may work best and safest for you.

Judas had my exchange overseen by the police when he returned me to my grandmother. He told them he needed police in attendance because I was violent and he feared for his life. If you know anything about the abuse I suffered at this man’s hands, maybe you will find this as hilarious as I did.

In any case, I did plan way ahead. I was a full-time college student at the time with no job. I saved every penny I could and scraped together extras from freelance work, which has now become my full-time career.

Whenever I got money from family members, I saved that too. I also received help from one family member on his side. Finally, both my grandmother and mother worked together to bring about number six.

6. Seek Parental Termination

In the spring of this year, a woman was reportedly shot by her ex outside a California police station during a custody exchange. Public custody exchanges of this kind are usually recommended when a woman fears for her life, but is forced to share custody rights with her abuser. It shows how men often use children as a pawn to retain access to the women they wish to harm.

Thus, if you have a child with your abuser, you may find that sharing custody keeps you under his thumb. It may also put your child at risk. So, what can you do to prevent this? You may need to be able to prove he was abusive. If you cannot prove it, you may lose custody of your child.

This is why it was so important to follow the previous steps of:

  • Documenting everything
  • Telling someone
  • Getting the police involved

All of this will help to constitute the evidence you need to prove that your allegations of abuse are not false. Note that in 80% of cases where mothers fail to prove that the abuse happened, they lose custody of their child to the abuser. So, tread carefully.

Many people love to sum up the characteristics of an abuser into one profile of a man, but this is misleading. Some abusers take pleasure in domination through beating, while others enjoy emotional games and manipulation. Some may sexually assault you, while others will not. Some are violent enough to attempt murder; others may only make threats or even threaten to kill themselves.

Every woman gets out eventually. Unfortunately, sometimes we exit feet-first through the door beneath white sheets, so balance safety with the need to take risks to ensure you get out alive.

Click here for a list of domestic abuse resources. If you are a victim of abuse, please be mindful of your internet history. This article shares details on how to clear your cache on any browser.

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DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional in this field. Use any advice provided here at your own risk. May you find your way to safety soon!

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16 thoughts on “Getting Out Alive: 6 Tips for Women & Children Suffering From Domestic Abuse

  1. I second everything you wrote. I only wish that it wasn’t called “domestic violence” since “domestic terrorism” seems more true.

    1. Thank you! I suppose if we used “domestic terrorism” for that, we would REALLY get stuck with “mental illness” for domestic terrorism when it happens here. O_O

  2. Those are really terrifying figures, but even more frightening is when it happens in your own family. One of my sisters and one of my nieces suffered physical abuse from their husbands, but eventually had the courage to leave them. How sad, however, that so many people put up with domestic abuse for so long, even when it’s killing them. Will we ever see the end of domestic abuse?

    1. Well, when there are children involved, leaving is extremely complicated. Marriage also complicates things. In those scenarios, leaving is never the end. With marriage, you have to confront the person again to complete the process and they can contest it and make it take years. Children make it far worse because a father has rights to their child and a mother can lose hers for keeping the child away from their dad. Even if he is abusive, she has to prove it. He may also try to use the child as a pawn, saying she is a bad mother or she doesn’t work, so he will get custody and she will never see the child again.

      In other situations, there are emotional games at play. Men wear away at these women bit by bit and prey on underlying insecurities. They tell them they are fat, ugly, incompetent. Nobody wants them. The women eventually begin to feel like they don’t deserve any better. Also, abusers do not abuse 24/7. They have moments when they are a completely different person. EVERYONE loved my biological father, which is why no one believed my allegations. He is a charming and intelligent man and women swoon over him.

      What saved me is that I didn’t put two cents of worth on anything he said. When he told me I was worthless and stupid and would never amount to anything, I didn’t pay him any attention. It rolled off me unfelt. He also made comments about my appearance and made me very uncomfortable during my transition through puberty in ways I won’t even commit here to a public form.

      Simply put, it’s complicated. You have to really experience it to understand (even if you remain immune, as I did). When will DV ever disappear? Never. A lot of men like to beat women. That’s not going anywhere anytime soon…

      1. Of course children complicate things and that’s why I think both my sister, who had 2 boys, and my niece, who had a girl, took so long to leave, so long in fact that my nephews were already in their 20s when my sister threw her husband out, as it was her paying the mortgage mainly, but my great niece was 5 and luckily my niece was allowed to keep her due to her husband’s alcoholism.
        As for Judas, I can’t even begin to understand that kind of meanness and cruelty, other than he had such low opinion of himself, that the only way he could make himself feel better was by belittling others and, unfortunately, you were the closest and easiest target: utterly pathetic. More kudos to you for being wise enough to see through all his crap and ignore it. I wish more victims had that strength of mind and wisdom.
        It is not only men who are abusers: there are plenty of women who harm their partners and children too, either physically or psychologically. I’ve seen that too.

      2. Judas had a lot of potential unfulfilled, more a dreamer than an achiever. Meanwhile, mom and I don’t dream, we set goals. So, we were always doing better than he had originally “intended for us”. Men like him can’t live with that because they know it eventually spells independence and they need you to be reliant on them to control you.

        I have seen women who are abusers, but in most cases, a woman cannot serve the physical blow a man can. And, unless she is using a foreign object, sexual assault is more emotionally than physically damaging, whereas for women, it is both. It certainly does exist, but it takes a different form and perhaps for that reason, many men are less likely to seek the help they need to get out of it. Add kids to the mix again and it gets even worse.

        I’m glad your sister and niece got out! I told my mom to leave since I was 9. I was around that age when she started spending most of her time in America, shortly thereafter. But she didn’t move here until maybe 4 or so years later and maybe after a year or 2, she finally stopped pretending to keep up the marriage to retain access to me (at least, I think that’s why she did it).

  3. Alexis, I am going to have to keep my comments brief so I don’t cry. While i was never abused as a child, I have been abused by significant others. Reading your posts, and this list in particular, brought back all the horror I loved through. I am sending you (((hugs))), because nobody should ever have to suffer through what we survived. Love you, girl😙

    1. 🤗

      We survived and I think that’s what matters. I try not to dwell on the horrors. Hopefully this helps someone who still needs it.

  4. These are very valuable tips, Alexis. I’m so horrified that you had to go through what you have to learn these means of survival, documentation of injuries, and self-protection, but I thank you for your bravery in sharing them. I feel confident they will help a girl or woman in these terrible circumstances. On another note, you are an amazing lady, Alexis. I so admire you!

    1. Thank you, Leigh! I do hope they help someone. A lot of people viewed the sharing of the story as helpful, which I did not, so I decided to tackle the topic from a more solution-focused angle this time. Compromise for both!

      Thanks for continuing to read my rambles! 🤗

  5. Thank you for sharing this. Had my mum known about these tips she would have gotten out of her last relationship much easier. She felt helpless and dependent but she got out in the end.

    1. Unfortunately, for a lot of us, it’s trial and error. My mom and I certainly didn’t have this list either, but I hope it helps someone else who comes across it. We all made it so far though, so kudos to the three of us (your mom, included).

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. In another life, I was a social worker in the state child abuse department and while I never saw really really horrible cases of abuse, I did see them and it was sad and frightening. And in one case that I can still remember, fatal.

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