ESCAPE THE VIOLENCE
STEPS TO TAKE FOR YOUR SAFETY PLAN
° AFTER A VIOLENT EPISODE
In the event your partner abuses or threatens you, you should call 911 for help. Don't keep the abuse a secret; abusers are empowered by silence. When the police arrive, demand arrest and apply for a criminal warrant. Domestic violence is not just a "family problem", it is a crime, even when it is done by someone you love, and you should treat it as such. If you take it lightly, so will your abuser.
Your next step should be to protect yourself either by moving to a safe place, or by immediately changing the locks and making your home secure. If you dont have a friend or family member to help you there are shelters available. Many of them are listed in this guide.
° IF YOU ARE LIVING WITH AN ABUSIVE PERSON
Leaving an abusive situation is probably your best strategy for protecting yourself since statistics show that violence only escalates over time. However, you may not be ready or able to leave. If so, there are some measures you can take before the next incident which may increase your chances of survival.
Remove or unload any weapons in the home;
Never argue in the kitchen since there are many available weapons there; move arguments to a safer place in the house;
Install a telephone jack and telephone in a room with a locking door so that you will be able to call 911 when necessary;
Arrange signals with your neighbors to let them know when you need them to call the police, for example, putting up a certain window shade or turning on a lamp;
Teach your children how to call or go for help; and
Plan an escape route so that you can get out of your house quickly.
° IF YOU ARE LEAVING AN ABUSIVE PERSON
Deciding to leave an abusive relationship is one of the most difficult decisions you will ever have to make, but if you choose not to leave you are exposing yourself to great risk of injury or possibly death. Approximately 1500 American women are killed each year by their abusers.
You may have to bolt from your home with no notice in order to avoid being attacked, but if you have time to plan your escape, here are some things to consider:
Start saving and hiding as much cash you can, even if you have to take a little at a time from the grocery money;
Take pictures as evidence of abuse, and write down threats and details of physical confrontations;
Find a safe place to hide the following items which you will need after you leave:
- extra keys to the car and house
- packed suitcase for you and your children
- important documents, such as bank books, children's immunization records, titles to cars and house, food stamp cards, medication or medical insurance information, marriage and birth certificates and social security numbers
° IF YOU HAVE LEFT AN ABUSIVE PERSON
Once you have left the abusive situation, you may still be at risk for further threats or attacks. It may be necessary for you to move to an undisclosed location so that your abuser can not find you. If you choose to stay where your abuser can find you, you should use dead bolt locks on doors and secure windows in your home. Also, request extra police patrols in your neighborhood, and teach your children not to open doors. In order to protect your children, you should advise day care centers and schools to release the children only to authorized people and give them a copy of any court protection orders you may have obtained.
WHEN YOU ARE NOT AT HOME, there are steps you can take to improve your safety. Some of these are:
• Vary your schedules and patterns for work and other activities;
• Always lock car doors;
• Walk and drive on busy streets;
• If you use public transportation, ask for a security escort;
• Avoid allowing your car to be blocked in parking lots or traffic; and
• Don't wear distinctive clothing which your abuser can easily recognize from afar.
WHEN YOU ARE AT WORK, you should take the following "steps":
• Advise your supervisor of the problem;
• If you work in an area that is easily accessible to the public, request temporary placement out of sight if possible;
• Have a co-worker screen your calls and let them listen in on threatening or harassing calls so you will have a witness;
• Make sure any protective order covers your work site; and
• Ask your employer to issue a criminal trespassing warrant if your abuser violates the protective order by entering your work site.
WHEN YOU ARE GOING TO COURT AND YOU ARE AFRAID, you should:
• Have someone go with you to court;
• Alert the sheriff's office that you are afraid and do not want your abuser to approach you while in court;
• Move if your abuser sits next to you - go to the front of the courtroom near the deputy or to the back to where you can't be stared at;
• If you are in criminal court, have the victim's advocate explain court procedures to you and make safety arrangements; and
• Ask for an escort to your car or the bus after the proceedings.