If you think you are in an abusive relationship, it is important to make a plan to keep yourself and your children safe. Think of a safety plan like keeping an emergency kit in your car. Hopefully you won’t need it but if you do, it could save your life. Here are some things to consider:
In an abusive relationship:
- Plan how you could get out of the house quickly if your partner becomes violent. Try to position yourself near a door where you can escape quickly.
- Put together a suitcase and keep it at a friend or family member’s house. Put in it clothes for you and the children, needed medicines, important papers, car keys, photographs, money, and emergency phone numbers. Add anything else you might need if you have to leave suddenly.
- Tell neighbors about the abuse and have them call the police if they hear noises coming from your house.
- Talk to your children about how they can keep themselves safe as well.
If you are thinking about leaving a battering relationship:
- Identify things that have worked in the past to keep you safe.
- Think about what has happened in the past and how the abuser has acted. Identify clues that indicate when things might become violent (i.e. behavioral — body language, drug/alcohol use, etc. — and event driven — paydays, holidays, etc.)
- Identify what you will do if the violence starts again. Can you call the police? Is there a phone in the house? Can you work out a signal with the children or neighbors to call the police or get help?
- Explore ways to have dangerous weapons (i.e. guns, hunting knives, etc.) removed from the house.
- Plan an escape route and practice it. Know where you can go and who you can call for help. Keep a list of addresses and phone numbers where you can go in crisis and keep them in a safe place.
- If possible, open a bank account or hide money to establish or increase independence.
- Gather together the following items and hide them with a trusted individual or somewhere accessible outside the home:
Credit card/ATM card
Order of Protection
Public Assistance ID
Driver’s license and registration
Social Security card
Your partner’s Social Security number
Record of violence
Children’s school and immunization records
Baby’s things (diapers, formula, medication)
Important telephone numbers
Mobile phone/coins to use a pay phone
- Change the locks on doors and windows (if the abuser has a key or access to a key).
- Increase the police’s ability to find your house by having a large visible street address outside the house
- Obtain a P.O. Box and forward all your mail to it.
- Ensure that utility companies will not give out your information to your abuser.
- Determine the safest way to communicate with the abuser if they must have contact. If you agree to meet, always do it in a public place (preferably a place with a security guard or police officer), and it’s best to bring someone else. Make sure you are not followed home.
- If your partner follows you in the car, drive to a hospital or fire station and keep honking the horn.
- Create a safety plan for leaving work. Talk with your supervisor and building security at work and provide a picture of the abuser, if possible. If you have an Order of Protection, give the security guard or receptionist a copy.
- Teach your children a safety plan, including calling the police or family and friends if they are taken and where to go during an emergency.
- Talk to your schools and childcare provider about who has permission to pick up the children and develop other special provisions to protect the children.
- Keep a journal of harassing phone calls and times you may see your abuser around the work place or neighborhood. Save and/or print any threatening emails. Keep a journal of anything that happens between you, the abuser, and the children regarding visitation.
Source: National Network to End Domestic Violence