If you are still in the relationship
Think of a safe place to go if an argument occurs – avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom), or rooms with weapons (kitchen).
Think about and make a list of safe people to contact.
Keep change with you at all times.
Memorize all important numbers.
Establish a “code word” or “sign” so that family, friends, teachers or co-workers know when to call for help.
Think about what you will say to your partner if he\she becomes violent.
Remember, you have the right to live without fear and violence.
If you have left the relationship
Change your phone number.
Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the batterer.
Change locks, if the batterer has a key.
Avoid staying alone.
Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
If you have to meet your partner, do it in a public place.
Vary your routine.
Notify school and work contacts.
Call a shelter for battered women.
If you leave the relationship or are thinking of leaving, you should take important papers and documents with you to enable you to apply for benefits or take legal action.
Important papers you should take include social security cards and birth certificates for you and your children, your marriage license, leases or deeds in your name or both yours and your partner’s names, your checkbook, your charge cards, bank statements and charge account statements, insurance policies, proof of income for you and your spouse (pay stubs or W-2’s), and any documentation of past incidents of abuse (photos, police reports, medical records, etc.)
Whether or not you’re ready to leave your abuser, there are things you can do to protect yourself. These safety tips can make the difference between being severely injured or killed and escaping with your life.
Domestic Violence Shelters
A domestic violence shelter or women’s shelter is a building or set of apartments where abused and battered women can go to seek refuge from their abusers. The location of the shelter is kept confidential in order to keep your abuser from finding you.
Domestic violence shelters generally have room for both mothers and their children. The shelter will provide for all your basic living needs, including food and childcare. The length of time you can stay at the shelter is limited, but most shelters will also help you find a permanent home, job, and other things you need to start a new life. The shelter should also be able to refer you to other services for abused and battered women in your community, including:
Services for your children
Protecting your privacy at a domestic violence shelter
If you go to a domestic violence shelter or women’s refuge, you do not have to give identifying information about yourself, even if asked. While shelters take many measures to protect the women they house, giving a false name may help keep your abuser from finding you, particularly if you live in a small town.
Protecting yourself after you’ve left
Keeping yourself safe from your abuser is just as important after you’ve left as before. To protect yourself, you may need to relocate so your former partner can’t find you. If you have children, they may need to switch schools.
To keep your new location a secret
Get an unlisted phone number.
Use a post office box rather than your home address.
Apply to your state’s address confidentiality program, a service that confidentially forwards your mail to your home.
Cancel your old bank accounts and credit cards, especially if you shared themwith your abuser. When you open new accounts, be sure to use a different bank.
If you’re remaining in the same area, change up your routine. Take a new route to work, avoid places where your abuser might think to locate you, change any appointments he knows about, and find new places to shop and run errands. You should also keep a cell phone on you at all times and be ready to call 911 if you spot your former abuser.
You may want to consider getting a restraining order or protective order against your abusive partner. However, remember that the police can enforce a restraining order only if someone violates it, and then only if someone reports the violation. This means that you must be endangered in some way for the police to step in.
If you are the victim of stalking or abuse, you need to carefully research how restraining orders are enforced in your neighborhood. Find out if the abuser will just be given a citation or if he will actually be taken to jail. If the police simply talk to the violator or give a citation, your abuser may reason that the police will do nothing and feel empowered to pursue you further. Or your abuser may become angry and retaliate.