How to Get Away from a Dangerous Person: Dysfunctional Relationships Part 2

If you hadn’t read Part 1of Dysfunctional Relationships, go back and read that first to identify if you are near or in relationship with a dangerous person.

I’m now going to discuss steps on how to get a way from a dangerous person. This is not telling you to get a divorce. I do believe that people can change, repent and reconcile. But I also believe in setting healthy boundaries, confronting destructive behavior and holding a person accountable.

Depending on how dangerous the person is, plays into what strategies you’ll need to take to leave. There are some people who fight against most or all authority, while others only fight against or abuse those “weaker” than them and who don’t hold any sort of rank in law enforcement or society. Also, times have changed since I left my dysfunctional relationship. That was when we didn’t have smartphones with tracking apps and social media. I’m trying to cover all areas, but I may miss something that I didn’t deal with personally.

The following are the main steps to take in order to get away from a dangerous person:

1. Establish a trustworthy support network. Whether this is made up of friends or family, it needs to be a healthy, stable group of people who will support you emotionally or even financially for a time period. These people shouldn’t be close friends or family of the person you are trying to leave because often they won’t be completely there to help you, but they will often enable the dysfunctional behavior. If you have ever wondered why the dangerous person was able to continue in their behavior, it was probably due to no one holding them accountable.

Also make sure those who will support you aren’t also dysfunctional. While yes, no one is perfect, usually those of us who struggle with codependency (I’ll explain codependency further in a future post) will often be attracted to people who “need” us. Develop a strong relationship with your support system so you know they will be able to help you leave.

2. Establish Financial support for yourself and children/pets. If you don’t already work, look for a job. If your abuser doesn’t allow you to work, then you will need to probably lean on the support network you are establishing or you can also seek shelters such as the Salvation Army or a local church or a shelter for victims of domestic violence. If you do have a job, start making arrangements to set aside money (best if hidden) in a separate bank account or in a small safe/locked cash box. Save up enough money for a deposit for an apartment and at least 2 months of expenses. Ways to save money is to use coupons more often and use rewards apps where you can earn extra money. Take on a contract job such as working for Shipt, DoorDash, Uber or GrubHub. It’s probably best to use the new account to receive the income.

3. Log/record all pertinent information of abuse. If the dangerous person hits you, take pictures of any scratches, bruises, etc. Save any hostile texts or emails. If there are any video / audio recordings of incidents, keep those. Go to the doctor if you have any visual injuries and report them to the doctor. The more physical evidence you have, the more likely it is to file charges and stronger reason for a protective order.

4. Get a protective order. A protective order is a deterrent for the dangerous person. This doesn’t mean the person won’t hurt you, but if the person tends to try to look good in public and listen to law enforcement, then this may help. Also a protective order allows for you to keep you from releasing contact information such as your address, phone number, kids’ school, preventing the abuser from picking kids up from school, etc.

You don’t need an attorney to get the order, just go to your county courthouse and ask about filing a protective order and they’ll have you fill out the form. You won’t need to pay any court costs. You’ll be able to get a temporary order without a hearing but then you’ll have to go to court for a permanent order. It still could take 1-4 weeks to get the temporary order signed unless you would file a police report, then protective orders can be done more swiftly if they feel there’s an immediate threat.

5. Find a safe place to live. If you think the dangerous person could retaliate, you should find a place that the person wouldn’t suspect. In this case, you wouldn’t want to go stay with family or a friend that the person knows unless your family or friend has strong security system, gates, alarms, etc. You should hide any thing that could lead the person to you (receipts, emails, texts, locations on apps).

6. Get a different phone. Buy a prepaid phone, and use that for making any plans to leave. This may not be necessary if the person you are with doesn’t look at your phone or track it. But if they do, then you should buy another phone with a new number. Keep your current phone active until the day you leave and then stop using that phone and sell it or get rid of it. Only tell those in your support network of your new number. Set up your emergency contact on the phone so in case something happens to you, your emergency contact can be notified.

7. Decide what you will bring with you. If you can effectively move things slowly to a new place without the person finding out, then do it that way. But if the person is too dangerous, you will need to decide what things you can take with you on the day you are going to leave. Make sure to take important documents (SS card, birth certificate, passwords, marriage certificate, health insurance information, etc).

8. Set the date to leave. Try to choose a date that the person will be gone. If necessary, take the day off work. Tell your support team a little bit ahead of time when you plan to leave. That way in case you need their help to get police involved, they can assist you. If you fear retaliation from the person, tell your support team the exact time you plan to leave and also maybe have someone be with you at all times.

There is no way to really predict how a person will respond. Some dangerous people are more passive when in front of other people in authority and will either lie to hide their true selves or submit to the authority.

9. Don’t talk yourself out of leaving because you fear retaliation! Think of a time when the dangerous person almost killed you. If you’ve been with the person long enough, there has probably been at least one time that person could have killed you. I could think of 1 time it almost happened to me. So even if you don’t leave, you never know when the abuse could get just as bad as if you had left. Follow the steps above to leave and there is a greater chance you will be able to get away safely. If you are still hesitant, seek a trauma therapist who will encourage you to get the help you need.

In my next post, I’ll discuss going through the healing process.

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