While divorce is the start of a new chapter in your life, the separation can quickly turn aggressive, especially for those leaving an abusive relationship. If your divorce can proceed amicably, it is always easy to work out satisfactory compromises for both parties.
However, you should protect yourself if you have experienced aggression before or noticed signs of violence in your relationship or during a divorce.
With the stress that accompanies a toxic relationship, the last thing you want is to fear for your safety when trying to resolve your dispute.
In this post, we have outlined five steps you can take to protect yourself, your family, and your property from an aggressive spouse during a divorce.
Step 1: Meet In Public Places
During the divorce process, meeting your partner is unavoidable. You may have shared custody of children or jointly-owned documentation that needs ironing out.
Therefore, make sure you meet in public spaces to do your exchanges. We advise you to opt for public parks, fire, or police stations where public servants can quickly come to your aid if there’s a need.
Apart from highly visible and crime-repellant areas, there is strength in numbers. Always bring a third party to your meetings such as family, a friend, or your lawyer.
Step 2: Get A Restraining Order
If your spouse is the stalking type or is threatening you, get a restraining order against them.
Yes, a restraining order is just a piece of paper and might not come in handy in actual violence prevention. But it informs the restraint party of the consequences they will face if they continue with their abusive behavior.
Share a copy of the restraining order and a copy of your partner’s picture with relevant people in your life to prevent your partner from violating it. Your employees and neighbors knowing the restrained party, discourage them from committing violence.
Step 3: Safeguard Important Documents
Since you are taking charge of your life, you need to locate and gather your personal documents and valuable items.
Keep documents like birth certificates, diplomas, social security numbers, and other sensitive personal information in a safe place. You can always turn to trusted friends, safety deposit boxes, or family to help secure your documents. If you have a will, update it to reflect the current status of things.
Records that are jointly-owned like mortgages, life insurance policies, real estate records, tax returns, bank statements, and titles should be stored in a neutral location where both parties can access them.
Initiate the processes for changing co-owned items to prevent your ex from making decisions without your consent. Cancel joint bank accounts and credit cards to prevent malicious activities that can affect your financial position.
Step 4: Secure Your Home
Abusive relationships lead to nasty divorces. You need to feel safe at home, irrespective of whether you live alone or in the marital home.
If you live alone, you need to have 24/7 security. Install a CCTV surveillance system at key entry points and have an alarm that notifies the police in case of unauthorized entry.
You may also opt for the services of private bodyguards to protect you and your residence until you’re able to feel safe again.
If living in the marital home, change the access codes and locks for the main entrance and other access areas like the garage. Always keep a fully charged phone close by to help contact the police when you feel threatened.
Step 5: Collect Abuse Evidence
If your partner “snaps” mid-divorce and gets violent.
Record the abuse as it will be decisive in getting the law on your side. Take photos of the physical injuries, and keep the threatening messages and recordings. Be sure to document the evidence discretely to avoid spooking the offending party.
This information will help the authorities understand the extent of abuse and security you need from your ex. Always follow your gut and report to the police whenever you feel threatened.
Divorces can be complicated and can get violent, especially when leaving an abusive relationship.
We have outlined steps that can help protect your physical, financial and legal interests during such a life-changing transition. Pick a safety measure that works for you but most importantly, consult a legal expert to find a measure that works best in your case.