Increased Risk Factors


You will be at even greater risk if

  • Your partner is unemployed

  • He is dependent upon you

  • He is excessively jealous

  • He accuses you of having affairs

  • He wants to know where you are at all times

  • He has threatened homicide or suicide in the past

  • He possesses guns

  • He abuses drugs or alcohol

  • The violence has escalated in frequency or severity

  • He has “choked” you in the past

  • He is isolated, depressed

Consider staying in a hotel or safe house for the initial high-risk period after your departure. A hotel with a business center can provide you with room and board and some measure of security, as well as headquarters to keep the divorce moving forward until you relocate.

If you stay in your home and your partner is ordered to leave, change the locks immediately and install a security system. Even if you are renting and there is a clause forbidding you to change the locks, a restraining order trumps the rental agreement, giving you permission to change the locks.

Safety Planning

Refer to the directory for resources in creating a safety plan. A domestic violence counselor can help you determine which documents and belongings (books, clothes, photos, furniture, etc.) to take. Make sure you take medications and prescriptions with you. Consult with your lawyer about how much money to withdraw from joint accounts.

If you intend to file a restraining order, write a complete history of the abuse in as much detail as possible. Your lawyer/legal advocate can help you condense and refine it.

Documents to Take

Start secretly copying and gathering important documents (tax returns, social security numbers, bank account numbers–joint and personal for both you and your partner) and store these in a safe place as well. Take passports, social security cards, marriage certificate, school records, medical and vaccination records for you and your children. Take it one document, one small step at a time, to avoid feeling overwhelmed.

Characteristics of Batterers Who Kill

(from Santa Clara County Domestic Violence Death Review Committee)

This list contains facts we deduced from the deaths we studied. They may not apply in every situation.

  1. Loners – do not have any friends of their own. If they have a friend it is often someone from their childhood, who hasn’t stayed close to them

  2. They will “co-opt” the victim’s friends in an attempt to learn more about the victim.

  3. They are overly possessive, controlling and jealous. They will try to get all the victim’s friends, family members and co-workers away from the victim.

  4. They control all the finances, even if they don’t work. They control the victim’s important papers i.e. passports, money or access to money.

  5. They are often underemployed or recently unemployed.

  6. They often have attachment issues, having lost a parent at an early age.

  7. Close to the time of death they will begin to unravel – inability to sleep, talking about dying, threatening suicide or homicide, extremely upset about life. While at the same time having the ability to meticulously plan the victim’s death.

  8. They will engage in stalking conduct if the victim tries to leave them.

  9. Batterers do not mellow with age. Getting older can even be more dangerous, especially if the victim is in good health and the batterer is not.

  10. They become distraught at the discussion of separation.

  11. They have had prior unsuccessful intimate relationships.

  12. What the batterer wants is primary, nothing else matters, not even children. Everyone around the victim is at risk.

  13. They will threaten homicide and or suicide, do not ignore them.

  14. They often have a firearm in the home or access to firearms, call 911 and ask law enforcement how to have it removed.