If you are living in an abusive situation, you never know when the violence may escalate. It's important to plan how you and your children can stay safe or escape. Some tips:
Safety During an Explosive Incident
- If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room with an exit and not in the bathroom, kitchen or anywhere near weapons.
- Practice how to get out of your home safely.
- Keep a packed bag in a secret but accessible place so you can leave quickly.
- Tell trusted neighbors about the violence and ask them to call 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.
- Teach your children how to call 911.
Safety When Preparing to Leave
- Determine who will let you stay with them or lend you money.
- Always try to take your children with you or make arrangements for them with someone safe.
- Leave money, extra car keys, copies of important papers and clothes with someone else.
- Open a savings account in your own name to establish or increase your financial independence.
- Keep change, credit/calling card or cell phone with you at all times.
- Review your safety plan with a domestic violence advocate.
What to Take When You Leave
It can be difficult to replace important documents after leaving home. Put them in a safe place where you can quickly retrieve them and/or give copies to a friend or relative.
- Identification, driver's license, car title & registration, social security cards for you and children
- Children's birth certificates, your birth certificate and marriage certificate
- Money, credit cards, ATM card, telephone calling card, jewelry
- Order of Protection, Restraining Order, divorce papers including custody, school records
- Lease, rental agreement, house deed
- Checkbooks, bank books & withdrawal slips
- Health insurance and/or medical cards, home/car insurance papers
- House and car keys
- Passports for yourself and children, work permits, green cards or immigration papers
Safety in Your Home after Separation
- Inform your neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and ask them to call the police if they see the abuser near your home.
- Rehearse a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
- Inform your children's school about who has permission to pick up your children. Give the school a copy of your Order of Protection if you have one.
- Change/add locks to your doors and windows and change your telephone number.
Safety on the Job and in Public after Separation
- Tell trusted people at work about your situation, especially building security.
- Provide the abuser's photo, if possible.
- Arrange to have someone screen your telephone calls.
- Devise a safety plan for leaving work. Have someone escort you to your car or bus. Use a variety of routes to go home. Think about what you would do if something happened.
- Keep a charged cell phone with you.