MAKING A SAFETY PLAN
A personal safety plan is a way of helping you to protect yourself and your children. It helps you plan in advance for the possibility of future violence and abuse. It also helps you to think about how you can increase your safety either within the relationship, or if you decide to leave. You can't stop your partner's violence and abuse - only he can do that. But there are things you can do to increase your own and your children's safety. You're probably already doing some things to protect yourself and your children - for example, there may ba a pattern to the violence which may enable you to plan ahead to increase your safety.
Plan in advance how you might respond in different situations, including crisis situations.
Think about the different options that may be available to you.
Keep important papers and emergency telephone numbers in a safe, easily accessible place.
Teach your children to call 911 in an emergency, and what they would need to say including full name, address, and telephone number.
Are there neighbours you can trust and where you can go in an emergency? If so, tell them what is going on and ask them to call the police if they hear sounds of a violent attack.
Create a code word and share with your neighbour and children. This word will alert them that in are in danger.
Rehearse an escape plan so in an emergency you and the children can get out safely.
Pack an emergency bag for yourself and your children, and hide it somewherre safe (for example, at a neighbour's or friend's house). Try to avoid mutual friends or family.
Try to keep a small amount of money on you at all times - including change for the phone and for bus fares.
Know where the nearest phone is, and if you have a cell phone, try to keep it with you at all times. Program emergency contact numbers for easy access.
If you suspect that your partner is about to attack you, try to go to a lower risk area of the house - for example where there is a way out and access to a telephone. Avoid the kitchen or garage where there are likely to be knives or othere weapons; and avoid rooms where you might be trapped, such as the bathroom, or where you might be shut into a cupboard or othere small space.
Be prepared to leave the house in an emergency.
PREPARING TO LEAVE
Whatever coping strategies you have used - with more or less success - there may come a time when you feel the only option is to leave your partner.
If you do decide to leave your partner, it is best if you can plan this carefully. sometimes abusers will increase their violence if they suspect you are thinking of leaving, and will continue to do so after you have left, so this can be a particularly dangerous time for you. It's important to remember that ending the relationship will not necessarily end the abuse.
Plan to leave at a time you know your partner will not be around. Try to take everything you will need with you, including any important documents relating to yourself and your children, as you may not be able to return later. Take your children with you, otherwise it may be difficult or impossible to have them living with you in the future. If they are at school make sure that the head and all your children's teachers know what the situation is, and who will be collecting the children in the future.
Thinking about leaving and making the decision to leave can be a long process. Planning it doesn't mean you have to carry it through immediately or at all. But it may help to be able to consider all the options and think about how you could overcome the difficulties involved. If at all possible, try to set aside a small amount of money each week or even open a separate bank account.
WHAT TO PACK IF YOU ARE PLANNING TO LEAVE YOUR PARTNER
Ideally, you need to take all the following items with you if you leave. Some of these items you can try to keep with you at all times; others you may be able to pack in your 'emergency bag'.
Some form of identification
Birth certificates for you and your children
Passports, visas and work permits
Money, bankbooks, cheque book and debit and credit cards
Keys for the house, car and place of work
Driving license and car registration document
Copies of document relating to your housing tenure
Family photographs, your diary, jewellery, small items of sentimental value
Clothing and toiletries for you and your children
Your children's favourite small toys
Any documentation of abuse will be important to have with you - e.g. police reports, court orders such as restraining orders, and copies of medical records if you have them.
PROTECTING YOURSELF AFTER LEAVING
If you leave your partner because of abuse, you may not want people to know the reason you left. It is your decision whether or not you tell people that you have suffered domestic violence; but if you believe you may still be at risk, it might increase your safety if you tell your family and friends, your children's school and your employer what is happening so that they do not inadvertently give out any information to your ex-partner. They will also be more prepared and better able to help you in an emergency.
Contact us for immediate shelter, on-going support and referrals. You are not alone.
24-Hour HELP LINE: 250-286-3666