How to prepare for divorce from an abusive spouse

How to prepare for divorce from an abusive spouse

“Ted and Alex had started out as a happy couple, but when the stress of life got too much, Ted’s reliance on alcohol made him physically abusive with Alex. Eventually, the option of divorce became the only way Alex could stay safe. As hard as it was, she had to serve those papers to Ted, to keep herself safe.” 

Divorce can already be messy and stressful, but when you throw an abusive spouse into the mix, it gets much harder. Safety and strength are major when dealing with an abusive spouse. You want to protect yourself and stay strong in your decision. Below are some beneficial ways to help you stay strong and safe during this challenging process in order to thrive afterwards.

Friends and Family

“Coming to that decision was a hard journey. Alex had a hard time admitting to her family that there was a problem. The fear of rejection by her family for her choice also kept her from saying too much. Thankfully, Alex’s family was kind and supportive. After talking with them about her issues, she re-strengthened her support-net through her family and friends, who were all behind her decision.”

Having people around you that support you and will be there for you during the hard times are a must when going through a process such as divorce with an abuser. 

You can rely on them to hold you accountable to your choices and keep you from backing out due to fear or codependency. Talk to them regularly, and make sure you know where they stand in your life as well as if you can truly lean on them for support and to be there when you need them.

It can be hard to admit to your fellow friends and family that your marriage and relationship are not what they appear to be. You may want to hide it and pretend that everything is fine, but deep down you want and need support so you don’t go through this divorce process alone. The first step in asking for help is the hardest, but also the most important. Once you can get past that first step, all the others will come much easier. It can be as simple as a text saying “Hey, I really need someone to talk to about this situation I am in and struggling with, can we meet up?”. Friends and family will be glad you reached out to them and let them in, trusting them enough to ask for help. This can create strong bonds between you and your relationships with them as they go through this process with you.


“While going through the divorce process with Ted, Alex’s family and friends suggested she see a counselor or therapist to get professional assistance dealing with all the emotions and thoughts that she was dealing with. While they were there to support her as best they could, her friends and family also recognized that they could only help her so much without being trained in that area. Alex trusted their advice and she started seeing a therapist. These sessions helped Alex to work through her fears, anxiety, hate, and trust issues she had experienced at the hands of Ted. In the end, she always left her sessions feeling much more in control of herself and that she could clearly see a path out of her dark times.”

Never underestimate the power of talking out loud through your challenges. Counselors and therapists are trained in how to be good listeners and give good advice on how to handle emotions and actions. Being able to talk through confusing feelings one is experiencing with someone who you know will never share that information with anyone else can be very beneficial. It can help one to organize their thoughts and feelings, and leave the session feeling much less overwhelmed. Consider researching your local centers to find one that works for you. 

Personal Protection

“During the divorce process, Alex knew Ted was not happy with her or what she decided to do. He began to show up at her work place and wait for her to get off her shift in order to talk to her about reconsidering. She tried to walk away, but Ted grabbed her arm to hold her in place. She was only able to get away because her coworkers saw what was happening and came out to help her. Even after Alex told him she was not going back to him, he continued to follow her around, and began texting and calling her multiple times a day. Alex was worried he would turn physica again if he didn’t get his way soon, so she decided to take matters into her own hands. She was no longer going to be his punching bag and decided to start taking self defense lessons. She also stored pepper spray in her purse and car in case he even got too close to her again. Doing these things helped build up Alex’s confidence and made her feel more in control.”

If you are worried your spouse will try and harm you during the divorce process, it is important to stay somewhere you feel safe and with people you can trust to protect you. Either a family member or friend’s house would work – as long as they know what they are signing up for and are prepared for whatever may happen. If the threat gets bad enough, consider looking into police protection as well as personal protection like pepper spray. Consider taking self defense classes in case you have to defend yourself alone. Being able to feel confident in yourself and your abilities will boost your self esteem and allow you to stand strong against your abuser.

Restraining order

“Even with all the defense classes and protection equipment Alex now had, Ted still tried to stalk her and follow her around. After discussing her concerns and fears with her lawyer at Your Law Firm, she took her lawyers advice to get a restraining order against Ted. Alex’s lawyer was very supportive and helpful walking Alex through what she needed to have in order to be granted a restraining order against her abuser. In the end, she was granted a restraining order and Ted began to be seen less and less. This helped Alex to breathe and feel much safer during the rest of her divorce.”

One way to help prevent an abusive spouse from potentially harming or harassing you during the divorce process is to file for a restraining order. In order to do this you must prove that the spouse has or clearly can harm you. This can be done using video evidence, documents, texts, or witness statements. Make sure to record and file everything the spouse has said or done in an organized manner to build the case for a restraining order and to submit as evidence in court when the time comes.


“Because of Ted’s abuse, Alex had left the house they shared together to start the divorce, and all of her belongings were still there. She was afraid to go back to get her things in case he was there, and so for days she stayed away and just used what she had grabbed on her way out while staying with her family. However, after having the support of her family and her lawyer, she built up the courage to demand her own possessions. Her lawyer at Your Law Firm worked with Alex to come up with a detailed list of what she wanted, while the divorce was still pending. Her lawyer then contacted Ted’s lawyer, demanding what was rightfully Alex’s to return to her, and even starting the conversation for other, larger items to be divided between Ted and Alex, when the time came. Ted couldn’t be around when Alex got her things because of the restraining order, so . Alex used all these resources to finally be able to get her belongings out of the house with her family there to help and support her.”

If you need to get your belongings during this process never go to your house alone, always have another person with you to help document any potential altercation with the abusive spouse and to help protect you if necessary – especially if you don’t have a restraining order. Safety is the number one priority during a time like this. You can legally get anything belonging to you and you alone but anything that is mutual should stay at the original location  until after the divorce and assets are settled.

This trial will be difficult no matter the circumstances but the best way to handle it is to be as prepared as possible, record everything (no detail is too small), have a support group, and stang strong. Do not let your abuser sway your decision and have people around you to help you stick to that choice.

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