In the beginning, love, respect, compatibility and trust sustained your relationship with your spouse. Maybe you saw flickers of anger and violence in the past but contributed it all to a bad mood. Unfortunately, those flickers have grown into explosive flares, leaving you with psychological and physical wounds. You have decided to leave your abusive spouse and the home you share in Virginia.

To better ensure your readiness for this step, the Office on Women’s Health lays out a plan of escape. Better your chances for happiness after making one of the hardest decisions in your life.

Look for a safe space

One of the first things you need to do is find a safe place to stay. Secretly. See if friends or family would not mind you staying with them until you can find a permanent residence.

Commit phone numbers to memory

In case your abusive spouse takes your phone away so you cannot communicate with anyone or call for help, have friends’ numbers memorized.

Pack a go-bag

Should things ever take a turn for the worst, it is imperative that you have everything you need to quickly leave. Pack a bag with clothes, toiletries, important documents, money and anything else you need to survive away from home.

Take care of your medical needs

If you take prescription medication or anything else you rely on a doctor or pharmacist for, ask about getting extras in case you cannot while away from home.

Gather evidence

For your divorce, you may want to gather evidence of your spouse’s abusive nature to build your case. Gather incriminating notes, medical reports, screenshots of text messages and emails and the like.

This information is only intended to educate and should not be interpreted as legal advice.