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Isolated with an Abuser?

Norma Grinnell, Client Services Advocate

We always hear that we should leave our abuser, this sounds easy to people who have never been abused. However, those of us that are living it or have been through it, know that it is not just as easy as packing up and leaving.

There are emotional, physical and mental attachments to the good times. The real him/her. Then there is also the fear of leaving and going into the unknown, financial worries, the threats to harm our family, our pets and to ourselves that loom over us. Most abusers will also sever the bonds that we have with our support system, family and friends, so that it is more difficult to reach out to these people for help. Keeping all of this in mind I am writing this to help give some ideas to stay safe while in quarantine.

Wisconsin Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes did a public service announcement to victims isolated with their abuser, you can check it out here: Barnes' Public Service to Domestic Violence Victims. Being isolated with an abuser can and usually will increase abusive incidents and level of force. Here are a few ideas to remain safe.

1. Use a code word or emoji with a neighbor or friend that they would let them know you are safe or in need of help. For example, a smiley face in the morning and night to let them know you are okay. A Frown face to let them know things are rough and maybe the word “go” meaning to call law enforcement immediately. If you don’t have access to a phone maybe setting a cup or candle on the porch or in the window to let neighbors know you need help.

2. If an argument arises try to move to a safe room in the house, away from children and weapons.

3. Self-care is very important. Make sure to get plenty of rest, drink water, eat a balance diet and exercise. If we are run down, the abuse can have more of an impact than normal.

4. Try to Journal. Make note of the abusers triggers, abusive incidents and level of force. This may come in handy if you make the decision to leave or press charges down the road. Keep this in a safe place where your abuser will not find it.

5. Learn what triggers your abuser and what deescalates them. So you can try to diffuse the situation before it gets out of hand.

6. Try to have a go-bag ready with important documents such as Social Security cards, Birth Certificates, Insurance cards, banking info, phone numbers, clothing, keys, and, if possible, cash.

If you need a safety plan while you are isolated, please click here: SAFETY PLAN or call Family Advocates. We have a 24/7/365 free and confidential hotline 1-800-924-2624. We are always available to listen and help safety plan for your unique situation.

National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233

Live chat is also available at

Crisis text line: Text HOME to 741741

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