Are you in a safe place?
If you have been a victim of violence the first thing you need to consider is your own safety. Even if the abuser is in police custody, he or she may be released soon. You may want to stay with your friends or family. If that’s not possible, or if it puts your loved ones in danger, contact HOPE at 1-888-345-3990. We know options for safe housing, community resources, counseling, legal advocates, and support. If you do not live in East Central Illinois, you can contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline for services in your area at 1-800-799-7233.
Here are some things to think about and arrange when creating a safety plan for yourself:
• Take steps to increase your financial self-reliance. Establish your own checking account, one separate from that of your partner. Establish credit in your own name, if you can do so safely. Try to establish an emergency fund and add to it whenever possible.
• Maintain close contact with family, friends, and neighbors. Establish a code in case an emergency arises (i.e. If you call and use an agreed upon word that signals you are in danger).
• Keep copies of all-important records with a friend or family member. Birth certificates, social security cards, immunization records, insurance policies, car titles, bank account records, blank checks, mortgage information, health insurance cards, etc.
• Keep a suitcase packed. You can leave it with someone so that your partner won’t find it.
• Keep a set of car keys hidden, preferably outside somewhere, or in a magnetic case on the car. If you leave by car, lock the car doors as soon as you get in.
• Plan what to do before a violent incident occurs. Leave the room or the home if your partner becomes violent. Have an escape route planned to get out of the house.
• Know where a safe place is and arrange with a trusted person for transportation to get you there. Call the police if necessary to help you with the children and know other emergency numbers to call. If you have injuries, go directly to the hospital.
• If you work outside he home, give your employer basic information and instructions not to tell your partner of your plans and to call the police if he comes to your workplace. Leave instructions with your children’s school, day care, or baby-sitter that you are the only person who will pick the children up. Make it clear that the children are never to leave with anyone but you.
If you consider leaving your abuser, think about…
1. Four places you could go if you leave your home.
2. People who might help you if you left. Think about people who will keep a bag for you. Think about people who might lend you money. Make plans for your pets.
3. Keeping change for phone calls or getting a cell phone.
4. Opening a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
5. How you might leave. Try doing things that get you out of the house – taking out the trash, walking the family pet, or going to the store. Practice how you would leave.
6. How you could take your children with you safely. There are times when taking your children with you may put all of your lives in danger. You need to protect yourself to be able to protect your children.
7. Putting together a bag of things you use everyday. Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
8. Think about reviewing your safety plan often.
ITEMS TO TAKE, IF POSSIBLE
– Children (if it is safe)
– Keys to car, house, work
– Extra clothes
– Important papers for you and your children
– Birth certificates
– Social security cards
– School and medical records
– Bankbooks, credit cards
– Driver’s license
– Car registration
– Welfare identification
– Passports, green cards, work permits
– Lease/rental agreement
– Mortgage payment book, unpaid bills
– Insurance papers
– PPO, divorce papers, custody orders
– Address book
– Pictures, jewelry, things that mean a lot to you
– Items for your children (toys, blankets, etc.)
If you have left your abuser, think about…
1. Your safety – you still need to.
2. Getting a cell phone. HOPE may be able to provide you with a cell phone that is programmed to only call 911. These phones are for when you need to call the police and cannot get to any other phone.
3. Getting a PPO from the court. Keep a copy with you all the time. Give a copy to the police, people who take care of your children, their schools and your boss.
4. Changing the locks. Consider putting in stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and outside lights.
5. Telling friends and neighbors that your abuser no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your abuser near your home or children.
6. Telling people who take care of your children the names of people who are allowed to pick them up. If you have a PPO protecting your children, give their teachers and babysitters a copy of it.
7. Telling someone at work about what has happened. Ask that person to screen your calls. If you have a PPO that includes where you work, consider giving your boss a copy of it and a picture of the abuser. Think about and practice a safety plan for your workplace. This should include going to and from work.
8. Not using the same stores or businesses that you did when you were with your abuser.
9. Someone that you can call if you feel down. Call that person if you are thinking about going to a support group or workshop.
10. Safe way to speak with your abuser if you must.
11. Going over your safety plan often.
WARNING: Abusers try to control their victim’s lives. When abusers feel a loss of control – like when victims try to leave them – the abuse often gets worse. Take special care when you leave. Keep being careful even after you have left.