First I want to say I am not a counselor, doctor, therapist or anything like that. I am just a guy who has been through an abusive relationship and have friends who have been through abusive relationships. So, what I am saying is from experience. You need to talk with a professional if you or friends are in an abusive relationship.
What I want to talk about is when the person who is being abused decides to leave. (I refuse to call anyone a victim). In most cases the abuse is not widely known. So, when the one being abused decides to leave the proverbial cat is out of the bag. For the abuser this is embarrassing and could include being arrested and booked for domestic violence. That is even more embarrassing. Someone who is already violent and gets publicly embarrassed is unpredictable, and unpredictable is dangerous. They could try to clean themselves up or they could become more violent. You cannot tell which they are trying to do. The person who wants revenge will try to seem like they are changing. They may be, but you need to let the professional take care of that.
What you can do is support the person who has decided to leave. When that person decides to leave, they need to disappear. They need to make it hard for anyone to find them; it is a matter of safety. There are many people who have been tracked down and killed by an ex. Where they are should be on a need to know basis. Yes you may be a parent, sibling, best friend, co-worker or some other friend or relative, but that does not mean you need to know where they are. If you are their doctor, lawyer, or law enforcement – you need to know where they are. If you have to take that person to work or help them move – you need to know where they are. Otherwise, if you really care for them, you need to tell them you do not want to know where they are.
Before I get to phone and social media security I want to talk about if the person being abused is a man. In our society we talk an awful lot about gender equality. We talk about how women can do anything a man can do. We know there are women in prison for first degree murder. But our society is not ready to accept women being the abuser in a domestic violence case. So when your male friend or relative is abused by his significant other, do not go to any of the domestic violence groups for help. Some of them will actually get mad at you. I talked one abused man into contacting one of those groups. They were furious with him, accused him of making fun of domestic violence, and threatened him with reporting him to police for making a false report to them.
I have been pushed down stairs, had chairs (and other objects) thrown at me. I have had my glasses broken while I was wearing them. I lied to my optometrist about how my glasses got broken, each and every time. The last time my glasses where broken while I was wearing them I went to Wal Mart and bought over the counter glasses because I did not think the doctor’s office would believe me if I told them I tripped yet again.
What made the difference for me, what made me finally decide I had to do something; was when my four year old daughter decided to protect daddy and jumped up in between. That was when I knew I had to do something.
The way the laws are written everyone who is abused has equal protection under the law. However, law enforcement and the court systems do not always enforce the law equally. This is not the fault of individual officers they have to follow not only the law but the instructions of the courts and other law officers appointed over them. When I realized I had to do something I stopped an officer going into a police station and talked to him (not one in my municipality). At first he only quoted what the law said. But, eventually I got him to understand that I knew the law, but wanted to know what actually happens. What he said was that in the county I lived, if I called in a complaint of domestic violence, one of two things would happen. I would be arrested or my abuser and I would be arrested. He said that once I was booked they would get to the bottom of the situation and I would be released. But, he continued, I would have on my permanent record an arrest for domestic violence and that would not go away. The options I had were to take my daughter and leave, which may or may not cause me to be arrested, leave without my daughter (in which case I could be declared by a judge to have abandoned my daughter, losing parental rights but not child support) or stay and wait for her to leave. I confirmed this with two other officers with two other departments. What I was told was exactly the same including the advice that I “suck it up and wait for her to leave.”
I should also say the abuse I suffered was brought on by a family tragedy and stopped after we separated. But, this is highly unusual. Normally abusers need counseling and that is no guarantee they will stop their abusive ways.
Let me say this again. If a man is being abused by a woman, physical abuse – do not contact any of the domestic violence organizations, they will not help. He needs to get away from her and he will have no help hiding from his abuser.
Now social media security. If you are the person who is leaving you need to go onto every one of your social media accounts and make sure the location is turned off. Do not do that anywhere near where you are going to because it will show up. Before you leave, or at a location near your old residence go onto each of your social media accounts and turn off the location function. Even if you think it is off, you need to check.
Phone security. When you are not on the phone, you need to turn it off. There are apps being sold so that parents can track their wild teenagers. Those apps can just as easily be used to track someone running from an abuser.
Actually what you really need to do is take the battery out of your phone when you turn it off. It is possible for someone to turn on your phone remotely, after you have turned it off. Not only can they listen through the speaker to everything happening near the phone (while you think it is off) they can also turn on/off features on your phone. So, after you have turned off your phone – say at your lawyers office – they can turn on your phone and listen to the conversation between you and your lawyer. Then they can turn on the location (GPS) feature and find out where you are.
Law enforcement has already used cell phones in this manner to collect evidence on drug dealers and other felons they are tracking. It may be illegal for your ex to do this, but it is also illegal for them to violate a restraining order, and each year people are murdered by people they have a restraining order against.
The police are your friends and they can give you advice. But, they cannot do anything until the law is broken. They are not trying to protect the abuser, they want to protect the abused, but their hands are tied, they cannot do anything until the law is broken. Unfortunately, sometimes the first time an abuser breaks a law is when they break the restraining order while killing the person they have abused.
Lastly, I want to talk about protection. First I am a big defender of the second amendment, but I do not advise buying a gun for someone who is being abused, and here’s why.
Let’s face it, guns are designed to take life, be it human or animal, that is the purpose. If an armed criminal is threatening people and shot by a victim it is considered a justifiable homicide, in other words you are not charged with a crime, but a person is still dead. Better the crook than the law abiding citizen, but still someone is dead.
A new gun owner does not have the familiarity with the weapon to feel comfortable with it. A gun owner should take a gun safety class and regularly go to a shooting range for practice and additional training. Obviously, give a gun to someone as they are leaving they will not have any of this training or practice.
Also, a new gun owner is not only less likely to take out a gun, but after they do they are less likely to use the weapon. If you pull a weapon on someone who already has a weapon out they do not know you do not want to use the weapon and will probably shoot you, or take the weapon away from you. People who are afraid of a weapon are more likely to hesitate to use it even when they take the weapon out. Those moments of hesitation are just enough time for the abuser to kill them, and if the victim has the gun on them, the abuser can say they were only defending themselves and there will be no one to dispute their claim. So, once again the abuser could commit a crime and get away with it – this time the crime being murder.
So, while I understand wanting to give the abused person a way to defend themselves, if their abuser catches up with them; I do not recommend giving a gun to someone who does not already have experience with firearms. And we have not even discussed the possibility of an innocent person or even the abused person themselves being accidentally shot.
In closing I would like to recap.
When the abused person decides to leave:
1-Go into hiding and tell no one where you are except your lawyer and law enforcement.
2-Turn your cell phone off and remove the battery when you are not using it.
3-Confirm the location or GPS location has been turned off on all social media accounts, then go back and check it again.
4-If you have no experience with firearms; do not accept a firearm for protection.
The majority of domestic violence victims are women and children, but men are also victims of domestic violence and we need to start extending to them the same protections.
Please, share this article. Share it on your blog or website, print it off and take it to work or church. It could help someone who has made the decision to leave an abusive relationship.