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Checklist and Escape Plan for Dangerous Relationships

If you are in an abusive relationship that is becoming more and more destructive, knowing when to stay and when to leave is very important. The following tips and suggestions may help make your process easier. However, if you are in physical danger, do not wait, get to safety as soon as you can. Or, even call 911 if the situation is out of control. A domestic violence shelter may also be an answer. 1-800-799-7233



  • Do NOT tell your spouse what you are considering until you are ready to go. In fact, if your spouse is abusive or controlling it is better to let them find out after you are gone, and even after you've filed legal papers.

  • Safety is the priority.

  • Be aware that when you do share you are leaving (whether separating or divorcing) some may take it in stride. However, they could become violent.

  • Make sure you have protected yourself financially prior to letting them know. They could try to take control and leave you with nothing.

  • Most importantly, if there are weapons in your home, your spouse may use them to threaten you. Alert your attorney and even the police if this is a possibility. Depending upon the state, you may hae the right to remove the weapons. Check

Documents to Gather

(Note: Only take time to get them if you are not in danger)

  • Cash and Bank Accounts. Copy current statements, note login, password and PIN information. Have an ATM card or credit card available only to you.

  • Investment Accounts. Copy current statements or take screen shots of the totals.

  • Tax Returns. Copy or photograph past three years (every page).

  • Retirement Accounts: Copy or photograph statements from IRAs, 401(k)s, State Teachers Retirement (STRS), federal retirement plans, pension plans, stocks, bonds, or mutual funds. These will be important to assure a fair division of assets. An attorney will help.

  • Social Security and Medicare. Photograph front and back of cards. If you have been married more than ten years, you may be entitled to SS benefits on your ex-spouse's record.

  • Document Income. Copy of latest paystubs. Also include any diability, social security, trust income, bonuses and retirement.

  • Credit Cards. Make a list of all credit card numbers, CCVs and expiration dates.

  • Expenses. Copy latest utilities invoices, and all expenses. Note mortgage or rent, insurance, taxes, medical expenses, etc.

Legal Documents

  • Marriage Certificate. Copy the document and also include any prenup or postnup agreements.

  • Government IDs. Have a copy of driver's licenses, passports, birth certificate, SS cards, and all the same for your children if needed.

  • Legal Documents. Copy living trusts, insurance documents, etc.

  • Professional Licenses. Copy work permits, visas, and green card as applicable.

  • Employment Agreements. This involves jobs that includes commissions and bonuses.

  • Medical/Dental Insurance. Have copies of all insurance information along with list of prescriptions, etc.

Safety and Security

  • Mail. Consider renting a post office box for security.

  • Important Phone Numbers. Keep a physical list of all important phone numbers.

  • Copies Threatening Correspondence. Keep copies of letters, messages, emails, texts, etc., your spouse has used to pressure with threats.

  • Document Concerning Behavior. Keep track of any behavior you observe that is threatening in any way. Make copies for friends or family for extra documentaton. This includes harassment, lies, deception, fraud, bribes, admitting to illegal activity, false accusations, evidence of stalking, etc.

  • Keys. Keep duplicate keys to your house, car, storage units, etc.


"Be Ready" List

  • Save cash in advance. Keep it somewhere your spouse would never guess. Consider opening a bank account at another bank in your name only.

  • Share with trusted people. Start letting family and friends know about your marriage isues. If you are in physical danger, tell your pastor, trusted neighbors, friends or family. Give them permission to call the police if they fear for your safety.

  • Consider Self Tracking. Allow a trusted friend or family member to have the ability to track you on a smartphone. Also, check for spyware in case your spouse has added it to his phone.

  • Internt Searches. Make sure you keep your history clear, or do any searching about your situation on a trusted friend or family members computer.

  • "To Go" Bag. Keep an emergency bag packed and ready in the event you need to escape in a hurry. Include clothing, cash, medicine, copies of documents, etc. Have one ready for your children if applicable. Have a plan for a place to go, or contact a domestic violence shelter aheadh of time in case that can be an option. Have extra keys placed where they can be accessed quickly.

  • Safe Word. Have a safe word you can share ONLY with your children, trusted friend or family in the event you have to get out fast. Teach your children to call 911 when they hear the word. Also, make sure that word is shared with anyone who might need to pick them up from school or daycare. Keep the list of those who know it VERY short.

  • Safeguard your Technology. If you believe your spouse may be spying on your mobile phone, check out: Putting spyware on another person's phone or GPS on their vehicle is illegal. Talk to your attorney. If they specialize in family law, they often know of special services that can scan and remove software or GPS.

  • Extra phone. Consider having a "burner" phone availalbe and share the number with your children and trust friend or family only.

  • Divorce Laws. Divorce Laws are not federal and are different in every state, and they change policies periodically. Research the laws in your state so you will know your rights. You can also schedule a consultation with an attorney as many offer free consultation. It never hurts to have information about your situtation.


This information might be overwhelming. Or, it could be empowering. And, it is not meant to pressure anyone into separating or divorcing. But, each situation is different and it is better to have information than to be in the dark.

Whatever your are feeling, it is okay. Just be ready to protect yourself. Pick a couple of items on this list and work on them a little at a time, as long as you are safe. to start, it might be good to have the "to go" bag ready should your situation become dangerous.

No matter what, know that God is with you. Pray for wisdom, protection and safety. He can be your rock and safe harbor.


Psalm 91:1-4

 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High

will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,

 my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you

from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence.

He will cover you with his feathers,

 and under his wings you will find refuge;

 his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.



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