Love shouldn’t hurt – ever

Another year ends with holiday shopping, parties, and promises of the most wonderful time of the year. Unfortunately, not all homes celebrate the joy of the year. Some families continue to just survive. With this thought in mind, we encourage anyone experiencing intimate partner violence to get out as soon as possible. When the violence outweighs the reasons to stay leaving safely becomes the goal. This year we invite anyone preparing to leave to use the acronym SLEIGH to remember what they need to do.

Safety remains the number one most important part of getting ready to leave a violent situation. Your safety matters. If you are not sure how to leave safely, please contact our office and speak with an advocate. Our advocates work with you to ensure that you know how to keep yourself safe every step of the way.

Learn the warning signs before a violent episode. Victims are not to blame for this violence ever, but they can learn what the warning signs are that the potential for violence is increasing. When you know how your partner starts to behave before a violent event you can strategize a way to get out before getting hurt again. One of the warning signs could be an increase in small arguments building up to a larger one.

Exit strategies help victims to know exactly when they need to leave. We recommend leaving when your partner is away. Leaving while they are home will only lead to confrontation that could become violent and lead to a very dangerous situation for everyone. Taking the time to learn your partner’s work schedule or daily routine will help you decide when leaving will be easiest.
Important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, marriage certificate, insurance cards, bank information, and proof of residence will all be helpful to keep with you. If you do not have a safe place at home to hide these things than you can ask a family member of friend to hold on to them for you. These items make it easier to get some services and will help in relocation if that is a goal.

Getting out remains the most important goal. Deciding where to go when you leave will alleviate some stress. This might look different to everyone. Some may need to go to a shelter while others may have family or friends who will give them a place to stay. Gaining independence might mean that you find a place of your own where you can start over right away when you leave. When you get ready to leave make sure you have a safe place to go.

Healing starts when the violence stops. It takes time to accept that the relationship had to come to an end for everyone’s safety. Letting go of the hope that the relationship can get better will be the hardest challenge. The person you love hurt you which will leave scars that no one else can see. Rest, counseling, support group, and time assist with healing. Please reach out to an advocate for support. Advocates provide a nonjudgmental, safe environment to talk about your experiences.

If you or someone you know is experiencing intimate partner violence, please contact Crisis Services of North Alabama locally at 256.574.5826 or at our 24/7 HELPline at 256.716.1000. For more information you can also visit our website at We can help.

-Christina Hays

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