Domestic violence, also referred to as intimate partner violence, is a pervasive issue that touches countless lives. Each minute, nearly 20 people face physical abuse by their partners in the U.S alone. More than just numbers, these are individuals who courageously choose survival, often against incredible odds. 

In this article we will shed some light on the crucial steps involved in preparing to leave an abuser. We’ll delve into how to navigate the barriers that often hinder escape, and how to build a safe and secure life in the aftermath, armed with the right resources and support. Because leaving is not just about ending the abuse—it’s about starting anew, on one’s own terms.

    Preparing for a Safe Transition to a New Home

    Leaving an abusive relationship can be challenging. “Escaping from an abusive relationship is one of the most dangerous times for a survivor and a time when over 70% of domestic violence incidents occur,” says Ruth Darlene Patrick, Founder and Executive Director of WomenSV, a nonprofit focused on covert abuse and coercive control.

    But, with careful planning and support, it’s possible to create a safer environment for yourself. Below we’ll discuss some steps to consider when preparing to leave.

    Set Aside Money

    Begin saving money in a separate, secure account if possible. This can help cover living expenses, transportation, and other necessities when you leave.

    Prepare An Emergency Bag and What to Pack

    Keep a bag with essentials like clothing, toiletries, medication, and any special items for children. Store it in a hidden but accessible location.

    Come Up With a Code Word

    Establish a code word with trusted friends or family members to signal when you need immediate help or assistance in leaving.

    Secure Important Documents and Housing Papers

    Gather important documents such as identification, birth certificates, and housing-related papers. Store them in a safe place or with a trusted person.

    If Possible, Get a New Phone

    If possible, get a new phone and change your phone number to prevent your abuser from tracking your location or contacting you through calls and messages. This extra layer of security will help you maintain your privacy and safety, allowing you to start rebuilding your life without the constant fear of being found or harassed.

    Research in Advance and Have Law Enforcement Help

    Contact domestic violence agencies or shelters to assist with planning your escape. They can help secure temporary housing and guide you through legal processes such as restraining orders.

     “Leaving an abuser is very hard for a victim. Although the abuse might be unbearable, it is still familiar territory and therefore more predictable in the victim’s mind,” says Seema Kak, Executive Director of Kiran Inc, a nonprofit focused on serving and empowering South Asian victims of domestic violence. “Various agencies can help connect victims to the right resources,” Kak adds. 

    Plan Your Escape

    Create a well-thought-out escape plan by familiarizing yourself with your abuser’s routine, identifying the best times to leave, and knowing which exit routes are safest. Additionally, have your car’s gas tank filled, your belongings pre-packed, and important documents handy so you can leave swiftly and discreetly when the opportunity arises.

    Disable Location Services on All Devices

    To protect your privacy and prevent your abuser from tracing your whereabouts, disable location services on all your electronic devices. This includes your smartphone, car navigation system, and any apps or gadgets that may use location tracking. Consider resetting your devices to factory settings or obtaining new devices to minimize the risk of being found.

    11 Ways to Create a Safe and Secure Home As A Survivor of Domestic Violence

    Survivors of domestic violence are at different stages of their journeys toward healing and safety. Whether you’re living in a shelter or independently, it’s crucial to implement safety measures and create a supportive environment. 

    Here are some tips to help you feel more secure:

    1. Install Security Features

    Invest in security features like a Ring Doorbell, light sensors, cameras, sturdy locks, alarms, and secure windows

    Our experts also suggested the following: 

    “As part of safety planning in a new home, it is helpful to install security locks with a security key that is very difficult to duplicate. It’s also helpful to install a deadbolt that opens from within the home,” says Ruth Darlene Patrick, founder and Executive Director of WomenSV. 

    “Add appropriate landscaping like adding a fence, and limiting bushes around the immediate vicinity of the home,” advises Seema Kak, Executive Director of Kiran Inc.

    “Install floodlights around the home that are on a timer or that have motion activation and install a loud exterior alarm that can be activated from several places within the residence,” recommends Sheryl Cromedy, Director of Housing at InterAct, a nonprofit dedicated to ending the cycle of domestic and sexual violence in Wake County, NC.

    By implementing these measures, you’ll gain an additional layer of security that can bring you a sense of comfort and contribute to your overall safety.

    2. Remove Triggers

    Identify and remove any items or objects in your home that may trigger negative memories or emotions. Creating a comfortable space can facilitate your healing process.

    3. Financial Protective Measures

    Close your old bank accounts and credit cards to prevent financial manipulation from your abuser. Open new accounts, ensuring your abuser has no access to your finances.

    4. Change Passwords

    Update all passwords for online accounts, including email, social media, and banking, to prevent your abuser from accessing your personal information. “Update entry codes and passwords if devices were shared before,” advises Kak.

    5. Build a Support System

    “Lack of emotional support as a result of the abusive partner isolating the survivor from their support system makes it difficult to leave,” says Cromedy.   

    Connect with friends, family, or support groups to create a network of people who understand and support your journey. By building a support system, this can help you feel less isolated and provide emotional support when needed.

    6. Get a Domestic Violence Protective Order

    Obtain a protective order to legally prevent your abuser from contacting or approaching you. This can offer an added layer of security and peace of mind.

    Cromedy recommends applying for the Address Confidentiality Program, which helps victims keep abusers from discovering their new address. 

    7. Develop a Hobby

    Engage in activities that bring you joy and help you rebuild your sense of self. Hobbies can offer an outlet for stress and provide opportunities to meet new people and create positive experiences.

    8. Incorporate Comforting Mementos into Your Space

    Surround yourself with items that make you feel safe and comfortable. These can be anything from family photos to a favorite blanket or artwork that brings you happiness.

    9. Embrace the Company of a Pet

    Pets provide emotional comfort and companionship, helping alleviate feelings of loneliness and anxiety. If you already have a pet, consider taking regular walks. If you’re open to it, adopting a pet can add a layer of security and provide unconditional love.

    10. Start Journaling

    Journaling can serve as an emotional outlet, allowing you to articulate and process feelings in a private, safe space. Regularly writing down your thoughts and experiences can provide a sense of emotional release and self-awareness, aiding in your healing process.

    11. Create Your Own Space with a DIY Project

    Engaging in DIY projects around your home not only keeps you occupied but also gives you a sense of control over your space. Whether it’s repainting a room, building a bookshelf, or planting a mini garden, these projects help you create a space that’s truly yours, reflecting your personality and tastes.

    By taking these steps, you can create a safe and nurturing environment that supports your healing and empowers you to move forward in your journey.

    Housing and Moving Assistance for Victims of Domestic Violence

    Financial abuse is one of the common barriers victims encounter when seeking housing assistance. “Many times survivors have incurred debt without their consent or knowledge and have had their credit score ruined by their partner,” says Patrick. “When they are trying to access housing, one of the first things their landlord checks is their credit score.”

    However, numerous resources are available to assist survivors on this journey, providing comprehensive support across various aspects of life. Establishing a life of safety, comfort, and independence after surviving domestic violence is both crucial and empowering.  The following are some financial resources that can provide invaluable help:

    Housing Assistance

    Several resources are available for survivors of domestic violence who need housing assistance. Here are some housing resources to consider:

    Moving Assistance

    Several organizations and moving companies understand the unique challenges and safety concerns survivors of domestic violence face and provide specialized assistance. Here are some good resources to consider:

    • Meathead Movers: Offers free moving services for domestic violence victims. Visit or call 1-866-843-6328.
    • Move to End Violence: Partners with moving companies to provide discounted or free moving services for survivors. Visit for more information.
    • U-Haul: Offers discounts for victims of domestic violence who need moving services. Contact your local U-Haul or visit for more information.
    • College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving: Offers full-service moving and junk removal. Visit or call 1-833-626-1326.
    • Two Men and a Truck: Provides comprehensive moving services and has a program for victims of domestic violence. Visit or call 1-877-263-6444.
    • Aussie Moving: Provides free moving service to the survivors of domestic violence in Santa Barbara County. Visit or call 805-273-8756.

    Additional Assistance and Support for Life After Abuse

    Navigating life after abuse may involve addressing various needs. Here are some additional resources for the brave survivors: 

    Food Assistance

    Access to nutritious food can be challenging for survivors who may face financial barriers or have limited access to resources. Various organizations, food banks, and community programs provide food assistance to ensure those affected by domestic violence have access to healthy and nutritious meals. Here are some good options:

    Pet Assistance in Abusive Households

    In abusive households, pets can often become targets of violence or be used as a means of control by the abuser. Several programs provide temporary shelter, veterinary care, and other resources to ensure the safety of pets while their owners seek protection from abusive situations. Here are some resources to consider:

    Medical and Mental Health Support

    Medical and mental health support are essential components in the recovery process for domestic violence survivors. Various organizations offer specialized services, including counseling, support groups, and therapy to address the unique needs of victims. Here are some options to consider:

    • National Domestic Violence Hotline: Provides referrals to local health care providers and support groups. Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit
    • RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network): Offers support for victims of sexual assault and abuse. Visit or call 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
    • Mental Health America: Provides mental health resources and referrals to local services. Visit or call 1-800-969-6642.
    • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Offers support and education programs for those affected by mental illness. Visit or call 1-800-950-NAMI (6264).
    • American Psychological Association (APA): Provides resources for finding a psychologist. Visit
    • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): Offers resources for mental and substance use disorders. Visit or call 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

    Immigration and legal assistance can be critical for survivors of domestic violence, especially for those whose immigration status may be tied to their abuser.  According to Kak, of Kiran Inc, one of the barriers of finding housing is housing discrimination and insufficient or lack of proper documentation specifically for immigrant victims. Many nonprofit organizations and legal aid services are available to guide victims through the process, helping them secure their legal rights and gain independence from their abusers. Some resources include:

    • VAWA, U visa, and T visa: Offer legal protection and immigration relief for victims of domestic violence, human trafficking, and other crimes. Visit or contact a local immigration attorney for more information.
    • American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA): Provides resources and attorney referrals for immigration-related issues. Visit or call 1-202-507-7600.
    • Offers legal information and resources for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or dating violence. Visit for more information.
    • National Immigrant Women’s Advocacy Project (NIWAP): Provides technical assistance, training, and educational materials on legal rights and remedies for immigrant women, children, and immigrant crime victims. Visit or call 1-202-274-4457.
    • Immigration Advocates Network (IAN): Provides a national directory of more than 950 free or low-cost nonprofit immigration legal services providers in all 50 states. Visit or call 1-212-760-2554.
    • Asian Pacific Institute on Gender-Based Violence (API-GBV): Offers a range of resources related to immigration for Asian and Pacific Islander domestic violence and sexual assault survivors. Visit or call 1-415-568-3315.

    Transportation and Car Assistance

    Transportation and car assistance can be a vital lifeline for survivors seeking to escape their abusers and rebuild their lives. Various organizations offer transportation services, car donation programs, or financial aid to help victims secure reliable transportation. Here are some options you may consider: 

    • GlobalGiving: provides bus or train tickets to battered American mothers and their children so they can get to a safe shelter or hotel.
    • Families to Freedom: a nonprofit organization providing transportation services to help victims escape abusive situations and reach safety. Visit or call 972-885-7020 for more information.
    • 1-800 Charity Cars: Offers free cars to survivors among others in need. Visit
    • Working Cars for Working Families: Fights to ensure that working families get a fair deal when buying and financing a car. Visit
    • Vehicles for Change: Awards fixed-up cars to families in need. Visit

    Employment and Job Assistance

    Employment and Job Assistance for domestic violence survivors is crucial to helping them regain independence and stability. Various organizations and programs offer employment support to victims. Some resources include:

    • Dress for Success: Provides professional clothing and career support for women seeking employment. Visit or call 1-212-532-1922.
    • Workforce Development Agencies: Offer job training, career counseling, and job placement assistance. Visit or call 1-877-US2-JOBS (1-877-872-5627) to find a local agency.
    • Goodwill: Offers job training and employment services for individuals facing barriers to employment, including domestic violence survivors. Visit or call 1-800-741-0186 to find a local Goodwill center.
    • Career Gear: Provides professional clothing and career counseling for men. Visit or call 1-212-577-6190.
    • American Job Center: Offers services for job seekers. Visit or call 1-877-US2-JOBS (1-877-872-5627).
    • Jewish Vocational Service (JVS): Provides job training and employment services. Visit or call different branches for assistance.

    Domestic violence is a serious issue affecting countless individuals. If you’re a victim, always remember that support and resources are available to help you regain control of your life and find safety. Stay strong, and never hesitate to reach out for help when needed.


    Leaving an abusive situation is undoubtedly one of the bravest steps a survivor can take. While there are various challenges, the right tools and resources can significantly ease the transition, creating a sense of security and stability. Remember, no one should navigate this path alone – there is an abundant network of support available. 

    Our Experts

    Ruth Darlene Patrick: Ruth is the Founder and Executive Director of WomenSV, a nonprofit focused on covert abuse and coercive control. Their mission is to empower survivors, train providers and educate the community to break the cycle of covert abuse and coercive control in intimate partner relationships.

    Seema Raina Kak: Seema joined the Kiran team in 2017 as a Client Services Manager. Seema earned her BA in Immunology and a BS in Psychology from the University of Maryland and went on to receive her Masters in Social Work with an emphasis on Child Welfare from the University of San Jose, CA. Throughout her career, she has provided comprehensive case management and advocacy services for women in areas of drug and alcohol abuse, homelessness, family counseling, employment, and child reunification. She took on the role of Executive Director at Kiran in 2020.

    Sheryl Cromedy: Sheryl is the Director of Housing at InterAct, a nonprofit dedicated to ending the cycle of domestic and sexual violence in Wake County, North Carolina. InterAct saves lives, rebuilds lives, and secures safer futures for victims and survivors and their families.

    Editorial Contributors
    Alexis Bennett

    Alexis Bennett


    Alexis is a freelance writer with nearly a decade of experience covering the home services industry. She’s built considerable expertise in roofing, plumbing, and HVAC, as well as general construction and real estate matters. In her free time, Alexis enjoys coaching women’s golf. She lives in the Triad area of North Carolina.

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    Alexis Curls

    Content Strategist & Digital PR Manager

    Alexis Curls is a content strategist on the Today’s Homeowner team. She specializes in home services research. She graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations.

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