Whether you decide to stay or leave your relationship is your decision. You are your own best friend. However, you should begin to empower yourself by bringing about a change in your relationship if possible, without endangering yourself or your children.
A safety plan is a tool to help you think about what you can do to protect yourself from abuse. This information can get you started. To speak to someone about a personal plan that suits your situation. Call Saheli: 866-472-4354
Tips to help you prepare a safety plan:
- Who do you trust the most to call the police when in danger?
- Do you have a code word or signal to use with family, friends, or neighbors when you need help? Do you want to note it down? Here’s an example:
- Do you have your own savings account and a PO Box?
- You can open a savings account even if you are undocumented – find out more here.
- Can you leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra clothes with someone you trust? Who is that person?
- Where will you go if you leave your home?
- Do you have a prepaid phone or any other device that is easy to reach to call for help?
- What is the quickest way out of your home? Think about doors, windows, stairwells, or an elevator. Do your children know to use this way?
- Teach your children to dial 911
- Pack a bag and have it ready to go in case you must leave home.
- Keep the bag in the hidden but accessible place where you can grab it quickly. You need to pack the following items:
- Money — cash, checkbook, credit cards, ATM cards, etc.
- Identification — driver’s license and registration, Social Security card, passport, green card, public assistance ID, work permit, etc.
- Important papers — such as divorce papers; school and vaccination records; and birth certificates for your children.
- Keys — house, car, or work
- If you already have an order of protection, you need to keep it with you at all times.
- Review safety plans as often as possible.
How to keep safe during a violent incident…
- If an argument starts, stay close to a room or area with easy access to an exit. Stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons
- Leave the place as soon as you can. Try to get your packed bag on the way out, but if it’s too dangerous, just leave. Go to a relative, friend, or shelter.
- Call 911 or your local police. The police should protect you from future abuse. They are required to provide or arrange transportation to a hospital or other safe place for you. The police should also arrest the abuser if they have enough evidence of a crime. They must give you a paper that explains your rights and lists a social service agency that can help.
- Use your judgment and intuition. If the situation is very dangerous then cooperate with the abuser to calm him down. You have to protect children and yourself until out of danger.
Things you need to do after a violent incident . . .
- Get medical attention immediately. Ask the clinic to take pictures of your injuries
- Make a police report, even if you don’t want the abuser arrested. The report will become evidence of past abuse which might prove helpful to me in the future. The abuser will not be notified that you made the report. Make the report as soon as possible after the abuse.
- Save evidence, in case you decide to take legal action now or later. Evidence includes medical records and police reports, dated photos of your injuries or the house in disarray, torn clothing, any weapons used, and statements from anyone who saw the attack.
- Go to court to get an order of protection from domestic abuse.
- Call Saheli 866-472-4354 to learn more about this option
- Seek out people who want to help you. Decide whom you can talk openly with to receive the support you need.
- You can increase your safety by preparing in advance for the possibility of further violence for yourself and children.
- Emergency cash, ideally enough to survive on for a month
- Clothing for you and your children
- Copies of important documents such as passports, identification cards, marriage certificates, court documents, social security card, driver’s license, welfare identification, family photographs, birth certificates for you and your children, school and medical records, work permits, green card, apartment lease, mortgage payments, insurance papers, important telephone numbers, evidence that you lived together with your spouse (utility bills, leases, etc.)
- Necessary prescription medicines
- Credit card
- Copies of house and car keys