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Domestic Violence: Critical Steps to Becoming a Survivor

Domestic violence does not end when you leave.  In fact, it can be the most dangerous time.  Planning ahead for that step can increase the odds of success and decrease the odds that the abuser can do more harm.

The most dangerous time: When you LEAVE

Leaving an abusive relationship is the most dangerous time for a victim.  This is the time when the abuser realizes they have lost control. This is a huge trigger for violent behavior.  75% of all domestic violence related homicides occur when a victim decides to leave. Another little known fact is there is also a 75% spike in violence for at least two years after separation.  

Having a plan is critical

It does not end when you leave, and could escalate immediately after leaving, so planning ahead is essential for many survivors to help them get out, get safe and stay safe.  

Steps for Leaving a Domestic Violence Relationship:

1. Get Ready

This may be one of the biggest decisions of your life.  Make a plan and think through what you need to bring.


  • Money, credit cards in your name
  • IDs, passport, birth certificates
  • Cell phone- Make sure to have a copy of your contact lists 
  • Computer/laptop/tablet- Backup important files on a hard drive 
  • Insurance cards
  • Medication and Prescriptions
  • Clothes
  • House and car keys
  • Legal Documents: Protection Orders, Divorce Documents, Custody Paperwork

2.  Get Out and Get Safe

A safety plan is a practical, personal and proactive tool that can help you identify danger and how to respond if you face a dangerous situation.  It can also be very empowering to recognize your partner’s “triggers” and how he or she may react to you leaving. It allows you to think through potential dangers, identify ways you can protect yourself, and who to reach out to if you need help.  

Common Forms of Retaliation:

  • Cutoff/closeout bank accounts
  • Stop paying bills- insurance, car loan, credit cards
  • Cancel/Close Accounts- utilities, water, trash, Amazon, cable
  • Turn off cell phone
  • Track your location via smart phone or device; GPS in car; children’s watches
  • Monitor your spending

Where to Go:  Shelters for Women and Families

Fort Collins

Crossroads Safehouse


Greeley Transitional House

A Woman’s Place 


Alternatives to Violence

Boulder County

Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Non Violence

Boulder Shelter

The Little Flower Maternity Home

The Safe Shelter of St. Vrain


Denver Safehouse


House of Hope

Colorado Springs


Mary’s Home

3.  Get Out. Get Safe. Get a Lawyer. 

Experience Matters

Filing for divorce and custody protects your finances and your children.  Upon filing for divorce, the court issues a temporary injunction preventing both parties from dissipating marital assets as well as prohibiting either party from taking children out of state. 

A good lawyer is as essential as a safety plan. 
Call Burnham Law today for a consultation. 

How can we help?

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Partner - Client Development

Colorado Springs

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