It takes an average of 7 attempts to leave an abusive relationship. There are many possible reasons. Challenges can include finding a place to live, facing legal issues, financial obstacles, and emotional difficulties like having mixed feelings about the abuser or returning out of fear of threats. This page provides some information to help you prepare for your escape.
Stay safe by ensuring arguments always occur in a place where you have access to a safe exit. Rehearse your exit plan regularly: which doors, windows, or stairs will you take? Review and optimize your safety plan every month.
Emergency Escape Kit:
Abuse typically escalates, and you don’t always have the option to plan ahead for leaving the relationship. In case you need to leave suddenly, put together an emergency escape kit containing all or some of the following items:
– Cash and prepaid, untraceable credit cards
– Charged, prepaid, untraceable spare cellphone
– Copied keys for the home, car, and other needs
– Belongings for your children or pets if applicable
– Identity documents; birth certificates, driver’s license, passport, social insurance
– Health insurance cards, medical records, immunization records
– Current medications and medical devices such as glasses
– Spare clothing, small valuables that can be sold if needed
– Journals, photos, evidence of abuse like police records or restraining orders
– Documentation proving pet/car ownership, home lease/deed agreement
– Financial records, bank account numbers, credit cards
– Marriage, divorce, and custody papers
Where to Go:
A. If you can plan your escape in advance, and if you have the funds to do so, rent a new home and begin furnishing it in anticipation of eventually moving out of your abusive home. Alternatively, plan out which motel you can easily escape to if you need to leave suddenly.
B. Funding and financial abuse is often a barrier. Consider disclosing your situation to someone who you trust will not let the conversation make it back to your abuser. That person may be able to provide you a short-term place to stay, or may be able to connect you to someone else in the community who can offer you some options.
C. If you don't have access to that kind of community support, seek out public services like shelters. More information is on the resources page.
Divorce Myths & Facts:
Many people are afraid of leaving an abusive marriage because they believe several myths about the difficulty of divorcing.
MYTH: Divorces are expensive.
FACT: Legal aid is available where financial concerns keep you in an abusive situation. The average cost of an amicable divorce ranges from $1,000-$2,000 in Canada. The average cost of a contested divorce ranges from $8,000-$13,000 or more.
MYTH: Divorce lawyers are too unaffordable to even initiate divorce.
FACT: In cases of abuse, divorce lawyers may be willing to work on contingency, which means they get paid from your divorce settlement at the end and you pay minimal, if any, fees during the difficult divorce process.
If you are facing financial hardship and you don’t anticipate enough gains from a divorce settlement to cover legal fees, seek out legal aid for free or subsidized legal representation.
MYTH: Your spouse can lie about you to take all your money and “win” the divorce.
FACT: Canada operates under a no-fault divorce system, so any misrepresentation of the truth will not lead your spouse to gain an unfair share of the assets. Homes and financial assets are typically divided 50/50, with some nuances, regardless of fault.
MYTH: Leaving your home due to abuse will mean losing the house in the divorce.
FACT: You do not need to live in your home to maintain property rights. If your name is on the property title, if you have been making payments, and if you have equity in the home, the courts will take that into consideration in fairly dividing property.
Are there other myths you would like clarified? Ask on the Support Requests page!