Being in an abusive relationship is difficult but leaving that relationship can be just as hard. For some people who are married and the victims of domestic violence, there is a lot of planning that has to go into walking away. It is imperative that you think about your safety first while you are planning.

If you are in danger, nothing matters but getting out of harm’s way. If you aren’t in danger, consider taking a few steps before you walk away.

Try to gather documents

Important documents, such as your birth certificate and Social Security card, should be gathered before you leave. You might need these in the future so trying to grab them now is important. You should also try to get copies of bank statements and any other important documents, such as deeds or investment accounts.

Make a plan

Decide where you are going to go when you leave. If you have enough time, you can make arrangements with a trusted friend or family member. You might even be able to save a little money to get a place of your own. It is also possible to find a shelter for a safe place to go when you leave. You should also think about transportation during this time.

Get a protection order

A protection order, which is sometimes known as a restraining order, is a court order that tells your ex to refrain from all contact with you. This includes physical contact and also applies to contact such as emails, text messages and phone calls.

It is possible to get a temporary protection order that lasts 14 days. After that, it may be made permanent or extended by the court, if necessary. The temporary order doesn’t require notification of your ex and can be granted the same day you file the petition for it.

Once a protection order is in place, your ex faces criminal charges if they violate it. This is a Class 2 misdemeanor and can also be considered contempt of court. If the person has prior violations of the protection order, the charge may be escalated to a Class 1 misdemeanor.

Think about the emotional toll

Even if you are relieved to leave the abusive relationship, you will probably still go through a range of emotions. These will often come over you suddenly so think about how you will cope with everything from anger to sadness. These will likely continue for the first year or more after the split. If you have children, you will also need to help them deal with this major life change.