Safety Planning: Escaping a Bad Relationship or Marriage

Plan to Escape a Bad Relationship and Plan to do it Safety

Breaking up is rarely easy. Separations tend to bring out unpleasant emotions and people do not always make the best decisions when parting ways. If there was a history of family violence during the relationship, then the family violence should be expected to continue during the separation and any following court proceedings. When there is a decision to escape a bad relationship or marriage, there should be a plan in place to help prevent family violence from occurring or escalating after separation.

A safety plan should include:

  • A safe place to stay that is completely separate and apart from a perpetrator of family violence. This could be a friend or family member’s home, a shelter, a hotel or other rental accommodations.
  • The safe removal of any children that may be at risk of harm during the separation process. If friends or family can’t help, there are places for children to stay in urgent situations like the Kids Kottage.
  • The safe removal and temporary care of and for any pets. If friends or family can’t help, there are community services that can are designed for these types of situations like Guardian Angel Program.
  • Access to access to financing and other basic necessities for people that have limited or no income which could be provided by Alberta Works.
  • Opening new accounts or quickly changing the password to every single personal account (ie, email accounts, social media accounts, bank accounts, etc.). This step is extremely important because most people do not realize that their ex might be monitoring those accounts.
  • Disabling GPS services on cellphones, laptops or vehicles that can be monitored by a former spouse.
  • A support network of “safe” people such as family members, friends, social workers, doctors, etc.
  • An Emergency Protection Order if police intervention is or becomes needed to keep everyone safe.

When ending a bad relationship or marriage, it is extremely important to hope for the best but to plan for the worst. In high-conflict separations, it’s not uncommon for one spouse to try to retaliate and to try leave the other person with “nothing” after the breakdown of the relationship or marriage. 

One person might be left with the clothes on their back and locked out of the previously shared home. Another person might come home to an empty house that was gutted by their former spouse or a house that is completely trashed, with the cords cut to any appliances that were left behind. Large funds of money might be withdrawn from joint accounts or credit accounts to prevent the other from having access to it. Assets might be unilaterally sold or given away to deprive or punish the disadvantaged spouse.

What else?

After escaping the unhealthy relationship or marriage, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. With quick action, lawyers can take steps to protect assets and to seek compensation or return of property. Lawyers can also help navigate other important issues like parenting after separation and calculating child support and/or spousal support.

If the costs of hiring a lawyer are an issue, there are community support services that are designed to help.  Legal Aid can appoint a lawyer to low income people that meet their criteria. There are also many lawyers that offer limited scope services and there are experienced “non-lawyer” professionals that offer legal coaching or other legal support services to people without a lawyer. To find out more about safety planning and legal support services, connect with the Edmonton Family Network. 

The Edmonton Family Network was designed to be used as a resource to anyone dealing with a difficult family situation. The Edmonton Family Network is familiar with the current limitations of the legal system and the barriers many people face trying to access and afford legal services. The Edmonton Family Network aims to educate and connect people with affordable resources and service providers that can help.

Edmonton Family Network has connections to legal professionals and community support services.

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