KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — One of the hardest things to do if you are a victim of domestic violence is leave.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Throughout the month, the East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers has been posting tips and facts on domestic violence.

“Sadly enough we have had to post so many fugitives that are wanted on domestic violence-related charges that we really wanted to also share with how do you escape, how do you leave that type of situation,” Stacey Payne the executive director for East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers said.

We’re told it typically takes on average seven times for someone to leave.

“It’s not just the physical abuse, but it’s the mental abuse that takes place of making you feel like you just can not make that decision,” Payne said.

The East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers encourages folks to have a safe exit strategy.

“There are some things that people can do if they need to plan this out instead of just leaving immediately,” Payne said. “It’s gathering all your paperwork, gathering your children’s paperwork, you know birth certificates. Identifications things like that, as well as your bank information, your bank account information, your credit cards, your social security cards.”

East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers offers the following suggestions to anyone looking to create a safe exit strategy:

  • Open bank accounts in your name only in a bank not used by your partner.
  • Leave money, extra keys, copies of important documents, extra medicine and clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
  • Determine safe people you can stay with and how long you can stay. If this is not possible, locate safe havens through

Payne believes careful planning helps ensure one’s safety when you choose to leave.

“Having the prescriptions and information set aside, so when you are able to leave some information that you have some documentation that for you and your kids that will allow you to have that fresh start,” Payne said.

East Tennessee Valley Crime Stoppers added that you should take the following items with you:

  • Driver’s License
  • Birth Certificate (yours & children’s)
  • Social Security Cards
  • Passports
  • Legal Papers (car registration, insurance papers, medical records, custody papers, etc.)
  • Cell Phone
  • Address Book

If you or someone you know needs help leaving, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE or text the work start to 88788. You can also contact the Knoxville Family Justice Center at 865-521-6336 or click here.