Below are some tips for anyone who finds themselves in an abusive or violent situation.
Safety during an explosive incident
- If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area where you have access to an exit. Try to stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, or anywhere else where weapons might be available.
- Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator, or stairwell would be best.
- Have a packed bag ready and keep it at a relative's or friend's home in order to leave quickly.
- Identify one or more neighbors you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
- Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends, and neighbors when you need the police.
- Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don't think you will need to).
- Use your own instincts and judgement. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the abuser what he wants to calm him down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
- Always remember - You don't deserve to be hit or threatened!
Safety when preparing to leave
- Open a savings account and/or a credit card in your own name to start to establish or increase your independence.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra medicines and clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
- Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
- Keep the shelter or hotline phone number close at hand and keep some change or calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls.
- Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer. Remember: Leaving your batterer is the most dangerous time.
Safety in your home
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
- Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
- Inform your children's school, day care, etc., about who has permission to pick up your children.
- Inform neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see him near your home.
Safety with a protective order
- Keep your protective order on you at all times. (When you change your purse, that should be the first thing that goes in it.) Give a copy to a trusted neighbor or family member.
- Call the police if your partner breaks the protective order.
- Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do no respond right away.
- Inform family, friends, neighbors and your physician or health care provider that your have a protective order in effect.
Safety on the job and in public
- Decide who at work you will inform of your situation. This should include office or building security. Provide a picture of your batterer if possible.
- Arrange to have an answering machine, caller ID, or a trusted friend or relative screen your telephone calls if possible.
- Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car, bus, or train and wait with you until you are safely en-route. Use a variety of routes to go home if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home (i.e. in your car, on the bus, etc.).
Your safety and emotional health
- If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust.
- If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so.
- Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs. Read books, articles, and poems to help you feel stronger.
- Decide who you can call to talk freely and openly to give you the support you need.
- Plan to attend a women's or victim's support group for at least 2 weeks to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship.
If you decide to leave
It is helpful to take documents like those on the checklist below. It is important to remember, though, that you and your children come first. Make sure you and your family are safe before you worry about collecting property or documents. (It is okay to leave even if you are unable to secure anything on this checklist.)
- Driver's license
- Children's birth certificates
- Your birth certificate
- Social security card
- Welfare Identification
Your protective order
Lease, rental agreement, house deed
Car registration & insurance papers
Health and life insurance papers
Medical records for you and children
Work permits, Green card, VISA
Some other things you might take if you have time and can do so safely: