If you or someone you know are afraid of an intimate partner or spouse – take the following preventative safety measures.
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If you want to know more about how to help a victim of domestic violence, click here.
Help plan for future safety:
Safety planning is critical for people who have been battered or threatened by their intimate partners. The danger of violence, including the risk of death, escalates when a domestic violence survivor attempts to leave a batterer. If you or some one you know is planning to leave an abuser or to take any legal or financial steps to separate, you must plan for safety. It is also crucial to have a safety plan if you or someone you know continues to live with a batterer. Help yourself, a friend, a co-worker, a neighbor, or a client to address their safety concerns by developing a comprehensive safety plan, including survival strategies at home, at the workplace, and in court or public places.
There are online tools for assessing the threat an abuser presents. While not fool-proof, some of these tools may be helpful. Click HERE for Mosaic Threat Assessment
Safety at Home:
- Remove sharp objects and weapons from sight. Keep a telephone in a room that locks from the inside. If possible, purchase a cellular phone and keep it in a pocket or in an accessible hiding place; pre-program 911 or the number of a safe friend or relative into the phone’s directory.
- Plan and practice an escape route out of the home and a safety plan for the children.
- Keep a bag packed and hidden in a safe place at home (or locked in a car trunk with only one key), or with a safe relative or friend, in case of flight. The bag should include: money for phone calls, transportation, and one month’s expenses, clothing, diapers, court documents, passports, identification (social security, driver’s license, welfare identification, family photographs), birth certificates, school and medical records, necessary medicines, credit cards, checkbooks, work permits, green cards, lease/mortgage payments, insurance papers, bank books, telephone/address books, car/house keys, and ownership documents for car/house.
- Seek a protection order in court. Make extra copies of the order and keep them in safe places. For more info click HERE.
- Show neighbors a picture of the batterer and/or the batterer’s vehicle so they can screen visitors and call the police if necessary.
- Develop signals to tell neighbors and friends to call the police, such as banging on the floor or wall. If possible, arrange to have a relative or friend call every day at an appointed time.
- Enroll in a reliable self-defense course and practice these skills.
- Trade cars with a friend or relative so a batterer cannot locate your vehicle.
- Be aware that motor vehicle records, including addresses, may be available to the public.
- Obtain a private or unlisted telephone number, and be selective about revealing a new address. Use Post Office box whenever possible. Batterers have located victims through friends, relatives, co-workers, court or social services documents, the post office, Facebook, and private investigators.
- Use the block code when making telephone calls. Save all texts and call logs as a way to document evidence of harassment or protection order violations.
- Alter routines – change transportation routes or timing (including picking up children from school) so that the batterer cannot locate you.
Safety at Work:
- Give a picture of the batterer and the batterer’s vehicle to security guards and colleagues at the workplace. If the batterer shows up, security or other workplace personnel can order the batterer to leave or call the police.
- Keep a copy of your protection order at work. Notify a supervisor or the Human Resources Department of the existence of the order and give them a copy.
- Screen calls with voice-mail or a machine if possible, or ask a colleague to screen calls.
- Travel to or from work with another person.
Safety in Court or in Public Places:
- Wait in a safe place if your batterer is nearby, such as next to a security guard or a bailiff in court.
- Sit at a physical distance from the batterer. Always make sure other people are in between you and the batterer.
- Do not speak to the batterer or the batterer’s family members.
- Make certain that you are safe when you leave a courthouse or a public place. Batterers often stalk victims to discover where they live, or to punish victims for taking legal action.
Take the following steps if the batterer becomes violent or threatening:
- Call the police at 911.
- File criminal charges if the batterer commits a crime or violates a protection order.
- Seek medical treatment if injured by the batterer. Photograph all injuries.
- Record all contact with the batterer in a diary or on a calendar.
- Assess the batterer’s lethality. You have an increased risk of being severely assaulted or killed if your batterer possesses weapons, abuses drugs or alcohol, stalks you, or has threatened homicide or suicide.
- Leave with your children and stay at a shelter, or with friends or relatives, if you are afraid that the batterer will assault or try to kill you.
- Under some circumstances, it may be necessary to disappear completely and to change your name and social security number.
- Screen calls with voice-mail or a machine if possible, or ask someone else to screen calls.
- Travel to or from work with another person.