The following are suggestions for increasing your personal safety. You are the expert on your situation and will know best which of these tips might work for you.
Remember, You Have The Right To Live Without Fear And Violence
If you are considering leaving your abuser, think about…
- If possible, opening a savings account in your own name to start to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence, including knowing what you can do about your monthly income and credit debts.
- Leaving money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
- Who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
- Keeping the WFC’s phone number close at hand and keep some change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls. Memorize emergency numbers. You can call shelters collect or dial 911 at no charge.
- Reviewing your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave.
- Taking important papers and documents with you to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action. You should take social security cards and birth certificates for you and your children, your marriage license, leases or deeds in your name or both yours and your partner’s names, your checkbook, your charge cards, bank statements and charge account statements, insurance policies, proof of income for you and your spouse (pay stubs or W-2’s), and any documentation of past incidents of abuse (photos, police reports, medical records, etc.)
Leaving Your Abuser Can Be The Most Dangerous Time For You
If you have left the relationship, think about…
- Changing your phone number and getting an unlisted number, blocking caller ID and using an answering machine to screen calls.
- Keeping a phone in a room which can be locked from the inside or obtain a cellular phone to keep with you at all times.
- Saving and documenting all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer.
- Changing locks, especially if the batterer has a key. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
- How to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
- Varying your routine.
- Informing your children’s school, day care, etc. as to who has permission to pick up your children.
- Discussing a safety plan with your children for times when you are not with them. Teach children about the use of “911” and when to call the police.
- Calling a shelter for battered women.
The Violence Is Never Your Fault. You Deserve To Be Safe At All Times
Safety with a Protective Order
- Keep your protective order on you at all times. Make extra copies to keep in your car, at work, in your brief case, or purse.
- Call the police if your partner or ex-partner breaks the protective order.
- Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
- Inform trusted family, friends, neighbors, co-workers or employer that you have a protective order in effect.
Safety on the Job
- Decide who to tell at work. If you have a protection order, consider giving your boss a copy of it and a picture of the abuser.
- Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls if possible. If the abuser attempts to contact you at work, save the voicemail, e-mail or written message.
- Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car or bus. If possible, vary your route home. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home (i.e., in your car, on the bus, etc.)
Safety and Emotional Health
- If you have to communicate with your abuser, determine the safest way to do so.
- If you are thinking of returning to your abuser, discuss it with someone you trust.
- Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs. You may wish to read books, articles, and poems to help you feel stronger.
- Think about attending a woman’s group to gain support from others and learn more about yourself and the relationship.
- Receive support and information through a 24-hour crisis line.