Famous track and field runner, Sha’Carri Richardson, made headlines again. But this time, it involves her seemingly toxic relationship with her ex-girlfriend, Janeek Brown. During an interview on Instagram live, Brown admits to being physically abusive to Richardson during their relationship. She tells interviewers that Richardson’s decision to come forward as a domestic abuse victim is “clout chasing” and even calls Richardson a “chickenhead.” Her dismissive attitude stunned fans, who took to social media to express their disgust.

Unfortunately, domestic violence is a common occurrence in the Black community. Many abusers are narcissists who tend to camouflage their abusive tendencies early on in a relationship. And if you don’t know the warning signs of domestic violence, it can be easy to become a victim of it.

According to a report from The National Domestic Violence Hotline, 45.1 percent of Black women have been victims of physical and sexual abuse and stalking. Also, one in three Black women reports having been a victim of domestic violence during one of her relationships. Now with social media users calling for people worldwide to protect black women, many women are deciding enough is enough.

Leaving An Abusive Relationship

Leaving an abusive relationship can be challenging. Victims are often isolated from family and friends, making it difficult to find someone to turn to when they’ve had enough. Abusers also commonly threaten their victims with more violence to keep them from straying. Because of this and other reasons, many women find it hard to escape their abusers. Unfortunately, remaining in an abusive relationship doesn’t typically end well either.

At times, it can seem like the odds are stacked against domestic violence victims. Many women complain about a lack of legal protection and support until it’s too late. And studies show that Black women are 80% more likely to be convicted for killing their abusive partner. So what options do domestic victims have? Here are ten effective ways to leave an abusive relationship safely.

Everyone deserves relationships free from domestic violence. When you’re ready, The National Domestic Violence Hotline is here to listen with confidential support 24/7/365. Call 800-799-SAFE to speak to a qualified domestic violence counselor in your area.

1.

Create an Escape Plan

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Creating an escape plan before leaving an abusive relationship is important for your safety. It can be especially dangerous to leave your abuser without knowing your next steps. Women who don’t have a plan in place before they leave are more likely to return to their abusers.

Many abusers try to retaliate or reconcile with their victims after they leave them, so it’s essential to plan your next moves.

Calendar with the words "Make it happen" written at the bottom
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If you currently live with your abuser, ask friends or family members if they can offer you a place to stay temporarily. Consider a short stay at a hotel or Airbnb if you can afford it. Also, some charities and organizations are committed to providing domestic abuse victims with free and safe housing.

Other ways to prepare for your exit include:

  • Maintaining a full tank of gas for a speedy getaway that may include traveling a long distance.
  • Calling domestic abuse or women’s shelters for a place to stay after you leave the abusive household.
  • Placing your keys and purse near the front door so that you can exit quickly when the time comes.
  • Learning new job skills to prepare to begin working if you are currently dependent on your abuser.
  • Asking law enforcement to escort you during your exit.

2.

Start Packing

Women who live with their abusers are at an increased risk for danger. This is especially true for those who are financially dependent on their abusers.

Picture of a suitcase and various unpacked items sitting beside it
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Make a checklist of necessary items to pack so that there’s no need to return to an abuser to retrieve any forgotten items. Women preparing to leave an abusive household should also gather important documents such as medical records, birth certificates, or social security cards. In addition, don’t forget to grab personal items such as keepsakes, clothing, current medications, and prescriptions. Women who share children with their abusers should also pack for their children.

Be sure to leave some items such as clothing, toiletries, and shoes behind so your abuser doesn’t notice the missing valuables and uncover your plan.

3.

Move In Silence

When preparing to leave an abusive relationship, you must hide your plans to escape from your abuser. If they become aware, they may try to stop you from leaving. They can do this by threatening physical harm and much worse.

Black man pinning a Black woman against the wall.
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Some abusers may try to apologize for their behavior when they realize that you plan to break up with them. However, it’s important to remember that this is also a manipulation tactic that many abusers use. Often, abusers change their ways temporarily to win back their victims. Then when something sets them off again, they return to their abusive behaviors. Sometimes, women who return to their abusers are in worse danger than when they were before leaving.

While you’re in the relationship, try to act as if everything is normal. Don’t make any comments or hint around that you’re leaving. As much as you may want to boast about leaving, it’s essential to keep it a secret for your safety. Quietly prepare and pack your belongings so that your abuser doesn’t have a chance to persuade you to stay.

4.

Tell Someone You Trust

It can be hard to show your vulnerable side to loved ones, especially when in an abusive relationship. Many women feel embarrassed or ashamed of their situation. Some even hide visible scars and bruises with makeup or clothing. It’s important to understand that you’re not alone.

Two Black women cooking in the kitchen together
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Often, abusers isolate their victims from their loved ones so that they can have them all to themselves. Maintaining contact with family and friends is essential because it helps keep your loved ones aware of your situation should they need to intervene. Even if you don’t want to involve your loved ones, keeping in touch with them can mean the difference between having a loving support system when you leave and not having anyone to turn to.

If you don’t have loved ones to turn to, consider confiding in a coworker, boss, or landlord. It may be uncomfortable, but they might be able to offer you the help and resources you need to leave your abuser for good.

5.

Record the Abuse

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Keep a record of the abuse on a notepad or laptop for future evidence. This is beneficial because it can help prove your abuse claims if the situation ever escalates to the court of law. Many women present their abuse records as a way to obtain a restraining order against their abusers as well.

Black women with a black eye.
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Make sure to keep all records hidden from your abuser. If you plan to detail your abuse on your phone or laptop, consider adding a pin code or facial recognition to keep your abuser from unlocking your device. In addition, you can title your records under unsuspecting names like “Notes from work” or “Pasta recipes” to keep them hidden from your abuser.

Remember that domestic abuse isn’t just physical. It can be mental, emotional, and financial as well. Record all instances of abuse to strengthen your potential case against your abuser.

6.

Don’t Fall For Their Apologies

Young man giving a bouquet of flowers to a young woman in front of a ferris wheel.
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Many abusers promise to change their violent ways when they realize that their victims consider leaving them. Most times, these promises to change are often accompanied by apologies and gifts. Some abusers even promise to attend therapy or counseling for their problems.

Black man speaking aggressively to Black woman as he grips her arm.
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It’s important to understand that love-bombing is not an acceptable way to correct abusive behavior. Until they have decided to help themselves, there isn’t anything that you or anyone else can do to change them.

Threats of self-harm are another common manipulation tactic that abusers use against their victims. However, it’s not the victim’s responsibility to help their abuser overcome their personal demons. When they’re ready to get help for their problems, they will. So for your safety, remove yourself from the situation and refrain from contacting your abuser for any reason.

7.

Go No-Contact

It may be tempting to contact your abuser when you’ve had no contact with them after leaving. You may be curious to know what they’re thinking or doing. You may even still love them. The important thing is to remain strong and avoid contacting them at all.

The likelihood of returning to an abuser increases exponentially when a woman remains in contact with them after a breakup. Even if communication is limited, abusers still see it as a small win. And once an abuser has their foot in the door, they may stop at nothing to get you back. There are many stories of women who broke their restraining order against their abuser only for them to be harmed upon returning.

Don’t fall for the okey doke. Ignore all communication attempts from your abuser. If you need to contact them for any reason, ask law enforcement to act on your behalf.

8.

Start Saving

When preparing to leave an abusive relationship, it’s good to set aside some money to fall back on. This is especially important for women who are financially dependent on their abusers.

Black hand putting coins into a clear piggy bank
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Even if you can’t afford to save thousands or even hundreds of dollars, every penny counts. A small savings can quickly add up to a large one with enough time.

There are plenty of ways to save money without hurting your pockets. For example, when you pay for something, add the remaining change to your savings. You can also consider cutting back to save as well. For instance, less eating out means you have more money to save. Or, if you get your nails or hair done regularly, consider getting a more simple design or style that’s less expensive. This way, you can pocket the extra cash without your abuser suspecting anything.

9.

Seek Professional Help

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It’s important to nurture your mental health, whether you’re currently in an abusive relationship or just getting out of one. Being in an abusive relationship often takes a toll on you mentally and spiritually. As a result, speaking with a therapist or other licensed professional can help remove any lingering traumas you experienced during the relationship.

Mental health and therapy are not often discussed in the Black community, but it’s an integral part of maintaining your overall health and wellbeing. When you’re not mentally well, your judgment may be clouded, which can affect other areas of your life. Although leaving an abusive relationship is good, it’s important that negative emotions like bitterness, resentment, and hate don’t take its place.

It may be scary to speak with a stranger about your personal life, but remember that they’re trained professionals who are used to helping others. Look for a therapist who has extensive experience working with domestic abuse victims. They’re more likely to show you the compassion and understanding you need during this challenging time. They can also provide helpful insights, tips, and resources to help you move along in your journey towards healing.

10.

Keep Yourself Busy

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Even though breakups are challenging, leaving an abusive relationship is something to celebrate. After leaving, it’s common to feel afraid, lonely, or even miss them. These are normal feelings that will go away in time. Keeping yourself busy can help you move past the negative feelings into more positive ones.

A group of women lifting weights at a workout class.
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The period after a breakup is a good time to work on yourself. You likely didn’t have much time to focus on what made you happy when you were in the relationship. Now is an excellent time to cultivate a healthy self-care routine, including your mental and physical well-being. Here is a list of productive things you can do following your breakup:

  • Catch up with old friends
  • Visit family members
  • Volunteer
  • Develop a new hobby
  • Learn a new sport like martial arts or kickboxing
  • Get into yoga or meditation

 

Everyone deserves relationships free from domestic violence. When you’re ready, The National Domestic Violence Hotline is here to listen with confidential support 24/7/365. Call 800-799-SAFE to speak to a qualified domestic violence counselor in your area.

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