No situation is hopeless. Granted it’s easier when you are being beaten. People who are in psychologically, emotionally, or financially controlling or abusive situations know what I mean. I often hear this: “At least, if I was getting beatings, I would I have bruises to show for”.  And yes, that is a truly sad statement, but it is profoundly true. The law can help a physically abused spouse and grant her or him and the children legal protection (PFA) and there are many shelters available for temporary shelter and transition, while prosecuting and punishing the aggressor. Sounds easy. I assure you, it’s not meant that way. But in comparison to the other types of abuse that make a spouse feel hopeless, imprisoned and desperate, it is.

These situations don’t need to be hopeless, though. They just involve a little more intelligent planning. They might also take longer to escape, but they are by no means hopeless. Find somebody who you can trust. If you don’t have access to family or friends to fall back on for whatever reason, find a professional.

Some will work on a contingency fee, if you (truly) can’t afford to pay a retainer.

Regardless, you need to make a detailed plan and follow it to the “T”. If you don’t have a job, line up something, anything. Go online for obtaining various certificates, fall back on old job training, skills or degrees, find companies online that will allow you to work for them online, or set up your own service through Skype  ( Sign up with a volunteer organization that will get you out of the house or the usual circle of friends, controlled by your “controller” and also possibly get you some skills for future job search.

Line up child support for the day you vacate the premises with your children. You can’t file for support as long as you live at the same address, but you can, once you have an independent address. You can also prepare yourself for all the questions and answers you will be asked by DRS (see sample form, no longer used by DRS because all data is directly entered by the intake officer during the initial interview, but it helps to get prepared for that interview. If necessary secretly collect income information for several months, get copies of savings account statements, copies of retirement, life insurance, 401K, and alike statements for about 6 months, just collect copies of anything and everything that could proof income and assets of the other party. Don’t worry about trying to understand any of these forms, especially if that’s not your forte, just get and collect them. They will be handy to have later on, when you won’t have access to anything anymore.

Start building your own credit, even if it’s just with a Boscov’s credit card for starters. Put away whatever spare money you can muster up and keep it in a safe place. The goal is to be able to support yourself, and your children, for about three months. Make provisions for your pets.

Secure jewelry, pictures, important documents, anything that can’t possibly be replaced, do it slowly but definitely.

Secure medical or psychological records showing treatment for addiction or sexually transmitted diseases or other serious, questionable ailments, employment records showing warnings and dismissals with cause, criminal allegations, and whatever else you could find and keep it for future reference, or … leverage.

You must run a full credit report to look for “secret” credit cards or other obligations to better be aware of what you’re up against financially. This also gives you a good idea what your own almighty FICO score is.

With a few exceptions this all applies to whether you are legally married or common law married, or just in a longstanding, intertwined relationship with children and/or mutual property or other financial concerns involved.

Get a mail box and start changing your mailing address whenever possible. Use a Post Office box or get one at a UPS store. Those are actually considered physical addresses and can be used when PO boxes are not permitted as mailing address. Another benefit of a UPS mail box over a PO box is that you will probably have 24/7 access to your mail.

Find a competent divorce counselor or mediator who can prepare you and get you on the right track. Consider hiring a qualified private investigator for leverage. Don’t involve your children under any circumstances. They will go with you when it’s time. Most often they are aware that something isn’t right.

Plan, don’t jump. You don’t want to get hurt any more than you already are. Freedom and peace are waiting on the other side. Good luck.

Just as an FYI: 1 in 4 women is in an abusive relationship, 1 in 9 men is in an abusive relationship; 3 out of 4 people know someone who is or was in an abusive relationship;

33 million Americans admit being in an abusive situation.

So, you are not alone. But you need to take action. Follow the new National Slogan Yourself  –  Yes, You Can!