Making changes for the better increases the need to plan for you and your children’s safety. Consider these tips for safety during an incident with your abuser, when preparing to leave, and while in your own home.
Safety During an Argument or violent Incident
If an argument seems unavoidable, try to move to a room or area that has access to an exit or a phone. Avoid the bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons.
Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevators, or stairwell would be best.
Have a packed bag ready and keep it in an undisclosed but accessible place in order to leave quickly.
Identify a neighbor 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, and neighbors when you need the police.
Decide and plan 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 judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the abuser what he/she wants to calm him/her down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
Safety when preparing to leave
If possible, open 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.
Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra 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’s phone number close at hand and keep some change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency calls. Memorize emergency numbers. You can call shelters collect or dial 911 at no charge.
Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your abuser. Leaving your abuser can be the most dangerous time.
Inform your neighbors and landlord that your abuser no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see him/her near your home.
Safety in your own 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 times when you are not with them. Teach children about the use of 911 and when to call the police.
Inform your children’s school, day care, etc. about who has permission to pick up your children. Discuss with them who they can tell at school or daycare if they see the abuser.
If possible, keep a phone in a room which can be locked from the inside or obtain a phone to keep with you at all times. Get an unlisted number, block caller ID or use an answering machine to screen calls.