How to Leave an Abusive Husband

Planning your escape from an abusive husband.

Every first step begins with a plan. If you’ve spent time in an abusive relationship getting out means planning for Domestic-Abuseyour escape; where you will live, your financial future. While putting your plan together follow the rules below. Keep yourself safe until you can get out of the relationship for good.

  1. Make sure you have a safe place to go if you sense you are about to be abused or receive violent treatment. You should avoid rooms that have no exits such as a bathroom or basement and rooms where weapons may be found such as the kitchen.
  2. Have a list of people that you consider to be “safe” contacts so you will have someone you can call or go to for help.
  3. Always have change with you in case you are stranded and need to make a phone call.Make a list of important phone numbers and memorize them.
  4. Create a secret word or sign that you can use so that your family, friends or co-workers will know you need them to call for help.
  5. Plan what you will say to your partner if they become abusive or violent.
  6. Always remember that you are entitled to live without fear and violence.

Now it is time to set your plan in action. You have to have somewhere to go, a way to support yourself so that your new life gets off to a secure proper beginning. Below are things you need to have in place in order to move on and rebuild your life.

  • Leave: You need somewhere to go. If you can’t afford a place of your own find a friend or family member who will allow you to stay with them until you are able to get a place of your own. Or use the legal system to have him removed from the home.You can do this by filing for divorce and petitioning the court for exclusive rights to the marital home. The danger with this strategy is that he will know where you are. You are safer leaving and finding safe harbor with a friend or relative.
  • Bank Account: You are going to need an account in your name only. If you’ve been planning correctly you will have this set up with a bit of money in it before you leave. DO NOT set up a new account in the same bank you have a joint account with him. Find a new bank, close to the location you will be living.
  • Money: You’re going to need this too. Where can you get it from? All kinds of places; if you work have some of your salary sent to your new bank account. What if he is a financial control freak? All is not lost; collect change from his pockets, save some of the grocery money, do anything you can do and save up. When you are ready to go, don’t throw your wedding ring at him, pawn it! Don’t burn your wedding dress, sell it!
  • Sell/pawn anything you can get your hands on before you go. Right before you leave (like a few days before) see if you can cash in any mutual funds/savings accounts/CD’s or anything else you jointly own. This is a risky business, so only do it if you are sure he won’t find out until you are gone. Call the financial institution and inquire about redemption procedures, it may be easier than you think.

  • Legal help: Yes, you are going to need an attorney. If you haven’t done it already, now would be a good time to go to your local women’s crisis center for information. They will know the law in your State and will be able to help you find legal aid services, offer counseling and assistance with housing, protection orders, child custody, divorce, etc…

Now that you are out or, he is out there are steps you need to take to protect yourself and your new life.

  1. If you’re still in the home you shared with your husband change every door lock even if the door was not in use. Your husband may have a key and you don’t want him to be able to get in. Be sure all of the windows are locked.
  2. Be sure you change your phone number if you’re still in the home you shared with him. Change it even if you have moved to a new location. Get an unlisted number and do not give it out to anyone you’re not sure you can trust.
  3. Get an answering machine so that you can screen your phone calls.
  4. Document and keep the records of all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving him in a safe place. You may need those records when contacting support programs for help. You will definitely need those records when seeking legal assistance.
  5. If you are confronted by your husband be sure you have an escape plan ready and be prepared to use it.
  6. Make sure all meetings with husband are held in a public place. Never agree to a private meeting even if he is being nice to you.
  7. Do not follow the same routine every day. Take different routes to and from your home or place of work. Shop at different times and in different locations. Don’t have lunch or dinner in the same place every day.
  8. If you have children in school alert them to your situation. Put a plan in place with the school so they will know what to do if trouble arises.
  9. Talk to your boss, tell him/her about your situation and make plans in case your husband harasses you at work or shows up. Alert your co-workers and business contacts too.
  10. Do your best to avoid being home alone. Don’t go to isolated areas.

I hope you understand the importance of having both a short and long-term plan when attempting to leave an abusive husband. Start making your plans now so that you can get out and stay out either today or down the road. If you don’t, you may well end up dead. Please call the National Domestic Abuse hotline at 1−800−799−SAFE (7233).


  1. 1

    Jolene says

    One thing I did when I left was made sure I had my “diaper bag” in my car at all times… my ex never suspected anything because it was just my “diaper bag” I left in the car incase of emergancies. In side I had, diapers, food, clothes, back up blankets for my kids, cell phone charger, prepaid cell phone, copy’s of legal documents, dog food, formula, bottles, bottled water… pretty much everything I would need incase we had to stay in the car for a couple nights and I didn’t have time to grab anything from the house when we left. I had the diaper bag but I also had a small tote stuffed under the seats full of things for the kids, medications, movies, books. I was prepared to leave if I needed to do a grab and go with the kids… and I was so thankful I had that stuff when I did leave.

  2. 2


    Splendid idea Jolene! Thanks for commenting and adding to the list of things to do. If a woman doesn’t have need for a diaper bag in the car, packing a bag and hiding it either inside or outside the house for a quick escape is a very good idea.

  3. 3

    donna wilson says

    Do I just pack my car each day and then leave without him knowing I’m not
    coming back, ever? Do I call him and telll him not to look for me I have moved?
    Married to abusive husband for ovr 25 yrs. I’m afraid, no where to go.

  4. 4

    Polly says

    Kill the bastard! well ok that’s not practical, but hell nobody owns anyone just go n leave start a new life somewhere else tell nobody ever. I’ts your life EFF THEM!

  5. 5

    amy says

    Hello everyone,

    I am very close to leaving my abusive husband of over two years. Since the day we got married all I felt is sad and depressed. No more. Its my promise to myself. I will be out of here hopefully soon enough. Any tips on how to set up your new own life? Does the legal system help you settle down? I work but not enough to sustain myself on my own.

    Thanks everyone.

  6. 6

    leslie says

    I am so scared to leave. Almost as scared as I am to stay. What’s going to happen to me, to my kids, to him? I feel like I’m crazy but I feel like I can’t leave without him falling apart. Why should I even care, but I do. He’s been my husband for 8 years, my kids’ dad. I’m so tired of being afraid. How do I get the strength to just go?

  7. 7

    Anna says

    To donna wilson – I was married for 26 years to a man who was abusive off and on. He stopped while the kids were little then started up again when our youngest was 5 – started getting worse and worse until he hit me. I kicked him out and he went to rehab (alcohol was his main problem) and stayed out of the house for 9 months. I allowed him back into the house after much counseling and he was a model citizen for 9 years. When he lost his job he started drinking again, the last 2 years have been hell and I saw the signs of verbal abuse going to physical again. I made plans, started looking for a cheap condo/apartment that I could move to and take the youngest two kids with me, now 18 and 21 (going to high school and college). He would not leave. I am not sure why but these men appear to be miserable with us but don’t want to be without us. So I planned to hire movers and get out while he was at work one day. But things escalated and I ended up getting a protection order served to him at work so he couldn’t come home. 2 days later we moved into a small condo and he is with his mother. The judge extended the order for a whole year which gives me time to really get on my feet and learn to live without him. The last few weeks have been the most peaceful I have had since before I was married, I strongly encourage you to make a plan, start thinking about how you’ll get out. Don’t know if you have kids but if they’re over 18 it is EASY to just serve him and move on. If they’re under 18 you can still get the protective order and it will cover them too and then he has to pay child support. I would just urge you to move and not tell anyone that has contact with him where you are, and keep the new address confidential on the PTO. It is so hard to think of starting a new life – things will change, what will happen – but I guarantee it will be a better life than the one you’re living now. And I will share with you what every friend I have has said – you are worth more than what you’re getting. You deserve to be happy and have a good life. You are worth while. Good luck.

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