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You have an emergency survival bag, and maybe a day bag for dealing with every day situations, but do you have a walk-away bag?

Not every one needs one, that's true.  But if you're in a situation where you feel you might have to leave your life, go far away, and start over again quickly, maybe you would need one.

Walking away from your life sounds good in a variety of difficult situations.  It isn't always the right answer, but sometimes, it's the only answer.

I have walked away from my life 4 times, completely rebooting it.  There were a variety of reasons.  .

Restarting your life from scratch is scary the first time you do it.  After that, it's not so bad.  All the bug-a-boos about walking away and starting over are (mostly) laid to rest.  And there's nothing preventing you from reaching back to re-connect with those things you liked about your former life once you settle into your new one, if you're not evading a stalker, anyway.

Of course, there are a few situations where a total severance is the only acceptable thing and re-connecting is just not possible - the witness relocation program is one such  permanent severance.  Leaving a highly abusive home life or a situation where you are being stalked are others. If you fear for your life or the lives of dependents in your care, sometimes, walking away is the only viable answer.

If your neighborhood becomes too unsafe to live in any more, and efforts to make it safe are meeting with resistance or hostility (it's happened), sometimes leaving quickly and permanently is the best answer.

Leaving to avoid responsibilities (child support, as one example), to commit fraud (life insurance scams, for one example), or to avoid the consequences of potentially criminal actions (accused of embezzlement, for example) are not valid reasons to start a walk-away bag.

The most common reasons for a walk-away bag is domestic abuse/being stalked, followed by an unsafe neighborhood.  The rest of the reasons are pretty low on the list. Personal safety, the safety of dependents, those top the list for needing a walk-away bag.  You'd have one because a larger, more obvious bug-out-bag, one that would be used in emergency evacuations or other dire situations where you hope to return, would clue the person/people you are escaping from into your plans.  They might then prevent you from implementing your escape.

What you'd need for a walk-away bag are:

A bag.  Obviously.  It needs to look like - and probably be - a bag you frequently carry.  Your purse, a school book bag, a briefcase, a computer carry bag. It needs to look too small to be seen as something you could use to re-start your life somewhere else.

Cash. Lots of cash.  As much as possible. If possible, set up a bank account with an out-of-town bank and keep this information hidden - an ATM/Debit/Credit card tied to that account and the card kept well-hidden (more important in stalker/domestic abuse situations than other ones).

Small jewelry and other small pawnable items (again. mostlyin stalker/domestic abuse situations, or where you also have to leave your job - or spend time getting one if you've been a stay-at-home spouse for a long time).  

Original documents if possible (birth certificate, marriage and divorce papers, driver's license, passport, voter registration card).  Photocopies so you can later get new originals will help if you don't have access to the originals (mostly in domestic abuse situations).

A new, prepaid cell phone (paid for with cash) and a new SIM card with no phone numbers on it.  Keep phone numbers the old fashioned way - written in a small "little black book" or memorized (again, this is mostly for stalker/domestic abuse situations).

A thumb drive with all of your computer files backed up on it.

That's it.  This is kind of meager, but you don't want it to look like you're moving out.  In some situations, that can trigger all kinds of violence.

Maintain your normal routine as much as possible. Go shopping, to school, to work, to visit family members.  Carry the walk-away bag with you everywhere, so people get used to seeing you with it.  You can disguise your necessities with non-essentials like pages of shopping and to-do lists, tissues, half-used toiletries, greeting cards, pens, packages of mints, straws, napkins....things that act as "filler" and hide the real essentials.

Pop the hard drive out of the computer and take it with you. If you can't do that, make sure you've thoroughly wiped all your information from the computer - clearing a browser cache isn't enough, you need to delete and over-write files, completely clean the drive of everything. This is critical not just in domestic violence/stalker situations, but also in situations where the neighborhood has seriously deteriorated - you don't want to have to leave your computer behind when you walk away and leave all kinds of tracking information on it.

If you can't carry it with you without raising suspicions or drawing unwanted attention, consider caching.

Caching is establishing a remote area container filled with essentials.  It can be a buried cache in a secure location known only to you.  It could be a locker at a bus station.  It could be kept in a crawl space or at a friend's or relative's house, or a lock box at that out-of-town bank.  You could even ship essentials to someone living distantly.

Know the difference between walking away (perfectly legal) and faking your own death (not legal and tends to waste a lot of time and resources of various government agencies that are enlisted to search for you).  It's a lot harder to walk away now with so much social media - stalkers can find you if you hang out in the same online places you once used.  You have to abandon those networks/games/places or so disguise yourself that they can't pierce the disguise - and that level of disguise is hard to maintain. You're safer just abandoning the social networks in the event of stalkers.

You will need your original documents to start over.  You can use them to change your name and to even get a new social security number. Both are generally allowed in situations where stalking or domestic violence exist, but you generally have to travel to another state to do so without local authorities accidentally making it more difficult for you. If you really need to completely change your identity and leave your old life completely behind, including never, ever re-connecting to old friends or to family members (severe domestic violence, stalkers...), seek out the assistance of  witness relocation/protection programs.  The only way to completely disappear legally is to disappear legally.

I'm not really talking about that degree of need - I'm mostly talking about getting out of an abusive situation or an unsafe neighborhood, leaving a place where the act of leaving may cause an escalation of violence, but once you're gone, you're safe enough.

If you don't need to change your name or social security number (I never did, the times I had to walk away), it's easier to walk away, and down the road, you can re-connect with old friends and family members. If you're moving because of a bad neighborhood you probably don't have to worry about stalkers or an abusive former partner, so resuming your life somewhere else, while difficult, isn't hard.

When you walk away from stalker situation or an abusive situation, if they are determined enough and/or have enough money, they may (not will) find you. Leaving a trail makes it easier for them - calling friends and family members, hanging out at your favorite coffee shop, staying too close to the person from whom you are escaping, using your old cell phone, using debit/credit cards attached to known or shared accounts. In a situation like that, you have to abandon every social media network you ever used, every email you ever used, your loyalty cards, all your keys, your cell phone (with numbers deleted), and leave no forwarding address. Don't tell anyone where you are going, or even that you are planning on going.  Don't leave records that you've been planning an escape.  Don't talk about leaving, or even hint that you might have thought about it. Don't re-connect with anyone from your former life. Disappearing from a life with a stalker or an abusive partner is hard, it's lonely, it's a matter of desperation.  But it's not impossible.

There's been a lot of talk about walking away from an underwater mortgage, but that's different. In that situation, you don't have to leave nearly everything behind, and you don't have to relocate to a distant state or city. I'm not going to address that kind of walking away because I've never done it.

The situations where you might have to leave town, leave the state, in order to start over, are the ones addressed here. Those can be pretty diverse. I've had to walk away from my former life 4 times.

I once walked away from everything I owned except what I could carry away in my purse because the neighborhood I lived in had degenerated so much so fast that staying there, as a single woman, was terribly unsafe.  The houses weren't designed for living in an unsafe neighborhood - large windows, thin exterior walls, doors meant more to exclude bad weather than intruders, external circuit breakers.  The houses were designed for a safe neighborhood.  After multiple break-ins, not just at my house but all through the neighborhood, I was ready to move, and preparing to do just that.  Several other neighbors had the same idea.  Each one was targeted when they brought moving vans to their homes and robbed of nearly everything they owned.  One of them died in the attempt to move. I decided that most of the stuff I had wasn't worth it.  I didn't have a car back then, so I packed what I could hide in my purse without arousing suspicion from the criminal element that had taken over (not gangs, this was before there were actual "gangs" as they are now, maybe it was a proto-gang), and went to work for a week, taking away all I felt was valuable and indispensable that fit into my purse.  On Friday, when I left to work, I took the last I was ever going to take in my purse, and never went back.  I later contacted my landlord via an attorney and broke the lease. I disappeared from that neighborhood and have never returned to it. I do kind of regret leaving my new stove and my bed, but they've since been replaced.

I walked away from an abusive roommate once.  We shared an apartment, and she became increasingly domineering and controlling.  We were just roommates, not family, not lovers, but she thought she owned me.  She was kind of stalker-ish. She had to know where I was going, who I was with, and she tried to control the finances, trying to take my paycheck and doling out an "allowance".  She actually managed to convince my boss at the time that she had my permission to collect my paycheck. The only way out was to walk away.  I slowly cached my important things (documents, photos, address book - this was still pre-internet), then quit my job one evening.  The next morning, I pretended to go to work, and went to collect my caches instead and left town. Never looked back.  I've never come across her again, and I hope I never do.

I walked away from my spouse.  I won't go into details, it was long and involved and didn't involve physical abuse, but it ended with me and the children living out of the car for months before I could get us re-homed.

And we had to walk away from one of the places we lived in because I couldn't live in a neighborhood where angry girlfriends drove cars into their boyfriends' houses and people got murdered on my front porch.  One day I came home from taking the children to school to find my front porch covered in blood. By the time I picked my children up from school that afternoon, we lived somewhere else, and they were enrolled in a new school district. Practically everything we owned at the time was left behind. Only what fit into the car in one trip came with us.

Walking away from your life can be done.  There are many valid reasons for doing it. If you're in a situation where you just can't see staying, know that you can walk away. Furniture and home furnishings can all be replaced. Thrift stores and estate sales are your friend in a walk-away situation. Roadside shopping is also a friend.  I refurnished my home all 4 times from furniture I found discarded by the roadside.

Sometimes, walking away from your life is the only viable option.  If that's the case, take heart.  It can be done and it's a lot easier than you think it is. You aren't hiding from the government or from authorities, just one or two bad people, or leaving a bad neighborhood.

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