No one deserves to be abused. If you are in an abusive relationship and are afraid, here are some helpful hints that can help keep you safe. If at any time, you are in a scary situation and you fear for your safety or the safety of others, call 911. The following information is provided by the Utah Domestic Violence Council.
Safety During an Explosive Incident
- Try to position yourself in a room with an exit (a window or a door leading to the outside.) Try to stay away from the bathroom, kitchen or any other rooms that may contain weapons or hard surfaces.
- Try to get to a room that has a phone, or keep a cell phone with you, if possible.
- Devise a 911 code word to use with your neighbors, children, family and/or anyone else that may hear an argument. Inform anyone who may hear your voice during an argument that if they hear the 911 code word they should call police immediately.
- Plan a safe route ahead of time to leave your home. Practice exiting your home through identified doors and windows. Plan which elevator or stairwell would be best to use. If you cannot physically practice your escape then visualize it several times.
- Pack a bag with the Checklist items, as seen on the Safety Planning Checklist page and keep this bag either at a friend's or family member's house, so that you can pick it up quickly and easily.
- Plan where you will go if you leave your house and how you will get there.
- Use your own instincts and judgment. If the situation becomes very dangerous, consider doing whatever is necessary to calm the abuser down.
- Tell your children to never get involved during an argument between you and your abuser.
Safety in Your Home
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows. Consider adding outside security lighting if possible. Purchase rope ladders, if needed.
- Request a new, unlisted phone number.
- Never tell your abuser where you live. Tell your children to do the same.
- Discuss a safety plan with your children. Inform them where to go and what to do if the abuser shows up.
- Inform your neighbors, landlord, neighborhood watch program, employer, schools (anyone else who you feel may be helpful) that your abuser does not live with you and that if they see him they should call the police.
- Call the police if your abuser threatens you, your children or your home.
- Tell your children's school or day-care who has permission to pick up the children.
- Screen your phone calls. If you don't know who it is, let it go to voicemail first.
Safety with a Protective Order
- Keep a copy of your Protective Order (PO) on you at all times.
- Make copies of your PO and give them to your employer, co-workers, family, neighbors, teachers, friends and church officials. Keep a copy in your car.
- Call the police if your abuser violates the PO.
- When police respond, obtain the officer's name and badge number. You should not clean yourself, or your house, nor do anything that might alter any evidence until it has been documented by the police.
- Keep a notebook with you at all times to document any violations of your PO. Write down the names of anyone involved, the time and place of the incident, if the police responded and any other information you think is important.
- Think of alternative ways to stay safe if the police do not respond immediately.
Safety at Work
- Inform someone at work of your situation. Include the security officers. Provide them with a picture of the abuser.
- Don't go to lunch alone.
- Arrange to have someone screen your calls or use caller ID or an answering machine.
- Have someone escort you to and from your car, bus or taxi. If necessary, trade vehicles or rent a car (if possible) so your batterer will not recognize your car.
- If possible, lock the office if you are alone.
- Park your car in a well-lit, visible area.
- Use a variety of routes to go to and from work.
Safety in Public
- Go to different grocery stores, businesses and banks if possible. If this is not possible, change the time of day in which you frequent these places.
- Use a variety of routes when going to and from home.
- When possible have someone escort you to your car.
- Try to park in a well-lit, visible area.
- Remain aware of your surroundings at all times.
- Pick safe places to go ahead of time, if something happens while you are out of your home.
- Try to get rides with different people.
Safety When Preparing to Leave
- Open a savings account in your own name to establish or increase your independence. Ensure that your statement is sent to a safe address.
- Get your own post office box using a safe permanent address.
- If you have pets, make arrangements for them to be cared for in a safe place.
- Gather the items on the checklist, as described on the Safety Planning Checklist page and have them stored at a friend or family member's house.
- Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or would lend you money.
- Keep the shelter/hotline numbers and some money, cell-phone, calling card with you at all times. Some mobile carriers provide 911 cell phones to victims (which could be placed in a safe location, to be used in an emergency.)
- Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave the abuser.
- If you plan to use a computer to learn more about leaving, please be careful that the abuser is not made aware of this activity.
Leaving the abuser can be a very dangerous time. Your safety plan is very important. Advocates can also help you create a safety plan for your situation.
Your Safety & Emotional Health:
- If you are planning to return to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with a person you trust.
- If you must communicate with your abuser, determine the safest way to do so.
- Be assertive with others about what you need.
- Don't be afraid to call the police and to ask for medical treatment. Photograph all injuries.
- Decide who you can call to talk to freely and openly, someone who can give you the support you need.
- Plan to attend a victims' support group to gain support from others and to learn more about yourself and the relationship.
- Keep a journal. This journal can also be used to document any PO violations, specific incidents of abuse and any other important information you want to record. Record all contact with the abuser. Always keep this journal away from your abuser. You may want to keep it at your office or at a friend or family member's house. Save all messages/ recordings from the abuser.