Both Aubrey and I have this piece of advice on repeat: document, document, document! As soon as you even have the inkling that something is fishy, start saving stuff. Open up a free email account to forward messages or send scanned documents. Hang on to credit card statements, phone bills, whatever.
Make sure that these things are safe and cannot be found by the abuser. Remember for example to clear out the browser history if there are certain websites you do not want them to know you looked at. Or go to the library or an internet café to consult those resources instead—so as to be certain your abuser cannot see what you’ve been up to. If you can, store things “offsite”, either by buying secure cloud storage (Aubrey still tells me that her Carbonite offsite backup account was the best money she ever spent), asking a trusted friend to hold on to documents for you, or even put them on a flash drive which is stored in a secure location.
Aubrey explains, “When something was very sensitive, like an email that could compromise him, I would print it, scan it, save it to backup, then destroy the printout. By destroy, I don’t mean shred; I mean I would stand in my bathroom with a pack of matches and burn documents over the toilet, or I would burn things on the patio and till them into the garden soil.”
It is sometimes difficult to really know what can be of value. The rule of thumb is the following: better too much than too little.
Escaping an abusive situation is difficult—if not full-on dangerous. Preparing your escape will make you more likely to get out and stay out. In this module, I’ll share some advice for you to consider as you equip yourself to make the first move; a series of starting points to help you remove yourself from an abusive situation.
Please always realise that abusers often escalate when their targets are trying to get out. For this part of your journey over-preparing is better than under-preparing!