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Important steps to safely leave an addicted or abusive spouse

Some people already know that their spouse has an anger problem when they get married, while others could be with their spouse for years before they experience any kind of abuse. Regardless of when your spouse showed you their true colors, chances are good that you wanted to believe things would get better with time.

Unfortunately, most abusive relationships get worse as time goes on, not better. It can take a lot of courage to work up the will to leave a spouse who has hurt you physically or emotionally. However, leaving is what is best in the long run. To most effectively protect yourself and any children you share with your spouse, you need to think about documenting your experiences before you leave the family home or file for divorce.

Make sure you have all the records you need before you leave

There are many different records that can help as you move forward with the divorce process. You will obviously need copies of all the financial records for the years of your marriage, which is something your spouse might withhold as a means of exerting control over you.

Making copies of these documents before you leave or tell your spouse you want a divorce can help ensure you have accurate information.

Collect any evidence you have about the abuse you endured

Do you have medical records that show that you sought care after altercations with your spouse? Are there police reports, cellphone pictures or diary entries that outline your experience? Do you have friends, family members or neighbors that have witnessed the abuse and are willing to speak up on your behalf?

There are many potential ways to prove someone is abusive. Simply making a claim to the courts is typically not enough. Anything from threatening and derogatory digital messages to angry voicemails can help corroborate claims of an abusive, controlling spouse in a relationship.

Consider whether you need a protective order

In many abusive relationships, the time immediately after the victim leaves the perpetrator can prove to be the most dangerous. Protecting yourself during this difficult transition is of utmost importance, as is protecting your children.

The courts can issue a protective order that can limit the contact that your spouse has with you to prevent them from stalking you, harassing you or attacking you. If they violate the protective order, you can report it to law enforcement and hopefully prevent them from doing the same thing in the future.

Even if you share children, it may be possible to secure supervised visitation and prevent the courts from releasing your new address to your ex. Protecting yourself and your children from future abuse should be your top priority as you move forward with your life.

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