Are you in the process of preparing to leave an abusive relationship? If you are, you’ve got a lot of things to consider. One of the most important is where do you go from here – as in, where will you live when you leave?
Finding a Safe Place to Live When You Leave an Abusive Relationship
Once you are ready to leave your abusive relationship, and you have the important documents you need in hand, you’ve got a good start. You’ll have your car fueled up and ready to go when you make that final move. Where do you go? Fortunately, there are options. Making that plan before you leave is an absolute must – but when you’re being financially abused (as is often the case in these toxic relationships) or you’re struggling financially for any reason, you might be worried about how you’ll survive. And of course, you’ve got to consider your safety, as well as the safety of your kids, if you have any. Even a “non-violent” abuser can become violent when you leave – so be very careful.
What is Financial Abuse?
Financial Abuse is a manipulation and control tactic used by an abuser in which they use money to control and or manipulate you. This can be done by restricting you from accessing family money or by forcing you to provide all of the money. Financial abuse may involve blatant lying about, theft of, and/or hiding of family money, among other forms of manipulation and control.
This video offers an expanded discussion on financial abuse in toxic relationships.
Useful Resources for Financial Abuse Victims
- Women’s Law Financial Abuse Section
- SafeHorizons.org Info on Financial Abuse
- QueenBeeing’s Resource Center for Victims and Survivors of Narcissistic Abuse
- QB’s Life Reset Button
Places to Live When You Leave an Abusive Relationship
Whether you’re dealing with financial abuse or not, you still might not be sure where to go when you’re getting out of the relationship. Here are some options you can consider for a place to live when you’re leaving an abuser.
Maybe You Don’t Have to Leave
While this is not always an option, in some cases, you might actually be able to keep your home and kick the abuser out. This could be the case when you owned the home prior to the relationship, or when you’ve paid for all or most of the home. It might also be the case when you have children who are school-aged. However, as you’re probably well-aware, getting a toxic person to leave their home can be nearly impossible in some cases. If that is your situation, you might temporarily leave and work with an attorney to legally evict them.* Be sure to check the eviction laws in your area and speak to an expert or attorney who can help.
*This is not legal advice and should not be taken as such. Always check your local laws.
Set Yourself Up Ahead of Time
If you’re not being financially abused and you can’t keep your existing home, you could set yourself up in a new home or apartment on the down-low. Don’t let the abuser know what you’re doing. Make sure your phone isn’t being tracked, and if it is, leave it at home and get a backup while you set up the new place so they won’t be able to find the new place if that is a concern. Over the course of a month or so, you could rent a new place and set it up, slowly moving your things a little at a time. Then, you can just be gone one day when your abuser comes home. Alternatively, one survivor I know happened to own an apartment building. She actually moved her abuser into an apartment and taped the key, address, and a goodbye note to her front door the day she changed the locks. Obviously, this option is not going to work for everyone who is in this situation as narcissists and other abusers often DO financially abuse their victims.
Stay With A Trusted Friend Or A Trusted Family Member
You might have the option to crash with a friend or family member for a while while you get back on your feet. Be aware that it’s really important for you to be open and honest about the abuse you endure when you speak to this person about staying with them. Even if this person isn’t able to let you stay forever, it can be a way to get out immediately and plan your next steps.
However, not everyone is so fortunate to have a trusted friend or family member who will gladly take them in after they leave an abusive relationship. Since most abusers end up isolating their victims, you may have no one left who you feel you can trust. Don’t worry – as alone as you feel, there are hundreds of thousands of people in the same position. But what do you do in that case? And what happens to you if you are in that position? Fortunately, there are other options you can consider.
Find A Domestic Violence Shelter
If you cannot go and stay with a trusted friend or family member, you can always stay at a domestic violence shelter. These shelters are also known as women’s shelters, and they are generally a group of apartments or a building where abused women can escape from their abusers. Even better, these shelters will be sensitive to your specific situation, so you never have to worry about the abuser finding out where you are as everything is kept private. You will be given a burner phone or an unlisted landline in the meantime, or you can always change your cell number.
If you have children, the good news is that there is usually enough room for both you and the children. Generally, the shelter will provide everything for your basic needs, including childcare and food. You cannot stay at the shelter for an infinite amount of time, but you won’t need to worry about that. If you don’t have a job, the shelter will help you find one (and even offer you job training in many cases). You’ll also get help with finding a permanent place to live when the time comes for you to do so. The great thing about the shelter is that you can receive access to legal help, support groups, counseling, financial help, health services, and educational opportunities.
In other words, you are not left high and dry if you go to a shelter – you’ll be given help and resources that can save you in so many ways.
Staying Safe at a Domestic Violence Shelter
Often, when you’ve been in an abusive relationship with a toxic narcissist, you might find yourself worried that they will become stalkers (and they often do). The domestic violence shelter option can be your safest bet in these cases if you don’t have a friend or family member who can protect you.
You are usually not required to give your personal information when you go to a shelter, and they may even give you a false name to keep you protected. If you are unsure how to get access to a shelter, you can talk to your therapist and look for organizations in your area about domestic abuse. Reach out to them, and they will be there to help you.
Alternative Option for a Place to Stay When Leaving a Narcissist
If you don’t have a friend or family member you can stay with, and you’re not able to get into a shelter (or prefer not to), you might need an alternative option for a place to go when you leave. So, here’s a quick, easy, and relatively cheap place to live (at least temporarily) when you leave your abuser. This idea came from one of the members of our SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Group chat.
It’s just a really smart idea for where to live when you need to move quickly – and I had to share it with you! See the video here or on YouTube.
Important to Consider: If you choose to move to a new city or area to get away from your abuser, you will need to become acclimated to the new location. That also means if you have kids, they will need to go to a new school.
Ultimately, remember this: You are never completely stuck. And while leaving might mean that you have to temporarily adjust your lifestyle, it can also mean that you actually get your life back. You deserve that – and you do not need to trap yourself with the abuser. You can break free and stay safe. Here are some additional resources for you.
Find a safe place to stay when leaving an abusive relationship
- In the US: visit Womenslaw.org for a state-by-state directory of domestic violence shelters in the U.S.
- You can also visit this page at DomesticShelters.org to find a shelter near you.
- Reach out to family or friends you can trust, if possible, to get out immediately.
- If you have enough money, you can stay at an extended stay hotel for a few weeks until you find a place to stay.
QueenBeeing Resources for Narcissistic Abuse & Narcissistic Abuse Recovery
- QueenBeeing’s PLAN to Leave a Narcissist
- QueenBeeing’s Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Resource Center
- Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups (Online)
- Suicide Prevention Resources for Narcissistic Abuse Survivors
- Best books on narcissistic abuse recovery
- PERK (Post-Gaslighting Emergency Recovery Kit)
- First Aid Videos for when you feel broken and lost