|Leaving the abuser is the most dangerous time for a victim of domestic violence. Seventy five percent (75%) of domestic violence related homicides take place when one partner in a relationship tries to leave.Please note the following guidelines to insure both your safety while you are still living with the abuser and when you decide to leave.
General Safety Plan
- When in an argument, try to be in a room close to an exit. Rooms to avoid in this situation are the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, the garage and anywhere that there are weapons.
- Try to have access to a phone to call 911, a close relative, friend or neighbor.
- Have an escape route to leave safely. Try to practice this to be able to do it quickly and efficiently. Be able to identify which doors, windows or stairs would be the most easily accessible
- The escape plan should also include where you are going to go, as well as advising a trusted neighbor of the situation and prearranging a signal with them that you are in trouble, so they may call the authorities immediately.
- If you have children, come up with a code word when the authorities need to be called.
- When deciding to leave, have a bag packed in case of an emergency. Be sure to include keys, money, important documents, and some clothes. Hide this bag where you can have access to it quickly, and where no one else can find it.
Safety When Preparing To Leave
- Plan out who you can stay with and who would lend you money, if needed. If possible, arrange with someone to watch your children where they will be safe. Always try to take them with you.
- Try to leave an extra set of clothes for you and your children at a relative’s house or in your car, if possible. Also, have all important documents with you, as well as an extra set of keys and some money. If on medication, be sure you have that with you as well.
- If possible, open a savings account in your name at a different bank with statements sent to a post office box.
- Have a shelter’s number close to the phone along with emergency numbers that may need to be used. If you use calling cards, have those close to the numbers you will be calling.
- Practice your escape plan and let neighbors, relatives and friends be aware of the plan.
Safety in Your Home
- Change the locks on your doors, windows and garage as soon as possible. You can also look into installing security systems, adding bars to windows, and replacing wooden doors with steel.
- Let your landlord know your partner no longer resides with you, and if he/she spots him/her on the premises, to call authorities immediately. Also inform family, friends or neighbors of the living situation.
- Practice the safety plan with your children. Let your children’s school know of the
- Change existing phone numbers and only give it to trusted friends, family and neighbors.
Protection Order Safety
- Keep your protection order with you at all times.
- If your partner or the person whom the order is against, violates the order, inform authorities immediately.
- If you live out of state, register your order in the state where you are currently residing.
- If you need assistance in obtaining a protection order of any kind, call a domestic violence shelter.
- Try not to be in areas where the batterer has access to you or your children.
Safety at the Job or in Public
- Inform your boss of your situation. Possibly give your employer a copy of the protection order to have on file.
- Try screening your calls at work.
- Have an escape plan and practice it. This may include having someone escort you to your car and/or taking different routes home.
- Try to carry a mobile phone with you at all times in case of a problem.
- Try to go to a variety of grocery stores, banks and malls.
Emotional and Personal Safety
- If you decide to return to the abuser, discuss a safety plan with someone you trust.
- Learn the different support groups in your area.
- Educate yourself about abuse by reading magazines, books and poetry.
- Be positive toward yourself and to others.
Checklist: What to take with you when you leave
- Driver’s license
- Car title and registration
- Birth certificates for family
- Protection order
- House deed or rental agreement
- Insurance papers
- House keys
- Car keys
- Medication and medical records
- Social security card
- Welfare identification
- School records
- Divorce papers