Seeking Shelter from the Storm: Escaping the Nightmare of Domestic Violence

domestic-violenceDomestic violence does not discriminate. It can happen to anyone, both women and men, regardless of age, gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, social standing, leaving a person vulnerable to face the terror of domestic violence.

Factually, no victim is ever to blame for occurrences of abuse as one in four women will experience domestic abuse and nearly three million men will also fall victim to episodes of the endless cycle of abuse.

For those living under these circumstances leaving an abusive or dangerous relationship is not as easy as one would be lead to believe. Victims of abuse wish for an end to the cycle, hope things will change or most often, they fear for their lives and are secretly plotting their escape.

For those mustering the courage, leaving an abusive relationship may lead to another dire situation, where to go? As per the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, domestic violence is the third leading cause of homelessness.

For so many who are left feeling trapped and lost, there is help. In 1983, the need for emergency public shelters raised awareness of the need for emergency public shelters and over the years this temporary solution permeated into a permanent shelter industry.

For those who are ready to flee many resources are available including legal help, counseling, support groups, childcare, employment training, education programs, health care services and financial assistance but the availability of a shelter provides victims with the first step necessary in recovery, providing a catalyst for safety, shelter from the storm.

Although entertaining the thoughts of an abuse-free zone, the victim first has to muster the courage to walk away and walk away quickly with a foolproof escape strategy.

Help Guide (HG), a non-profit, online guide dedicated to mental health and well-being advises those experiencing domestic violence to draft an escape plan and offers the following advice:

Take Inventory of Your Abuser’s Triggers

Stay alert, become aware of the triggers that set your abuser into a violent rage. Devise several believable reason of why you need to leave the home, both day and night but be careful not to raise suspicion.

Designate a Safe Place

If you are unable to leave the house during a domestic incidence, locate a safe place and avoid small enclosed areas, rooms with weapons, includes the kitchen, and if at all possible head toward a room with a phone and outside window or door.

Establish a Code Word

Your code word should be shared with other family members, neighbors, friends and co-workers. Once the code word is sounded those who care may have the opportunity to quickly alert the authorities.

Devise an Escape Route

Although it is often difficult for a victim to realize the level of violence requires permanently removing oneself from the home, devise an escape route, it could save your life and the life of your children. Components of a executable plan include:

  • Keeping the car fueled;
  • Leaving the driver’s side door open;
  • Parking the car facing the driveway exit; and
  • Stashing a spare key, easily accessible.

Practice Makes Perfect

It could also save your life. Once the escape route has been mapped, practice the plan and if children are involved, ensure that they are aware of the code word and request that they also participate in the practice drills.

Safe Keep Emergency Contact Numbers

Entrust family and friends to help with your escape plan. Ask them if you can count on them for a ride, a temporary residence or help contacting the authorities. It is often suggested that you memorize the numbers of local emergency shelters and domestic violence hotlines.

For those seeking shelter from the storm, help may be just a phone call away. Across the U.S. victims can receive emergency assistance by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE).

For those seeking specific legal action such as petitioning for divorce as the final act of leaving domestic violence behind, the qualified and compassionate Hinsdale domestic violence attorneys of Martoccio & Martoccio are readily available. Contact our legal team at 630-920-8855 to schedule a free confidential consultation today.


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