Many women who are in a physically abusive relationship find it difficult to leave the home and end the relationship permanently. If they are mentally and emotionally not ready to leave, they can still protect their own interests by doing certain things to make it easier to leave at a later time. A good place to start is to collect and put in one central place (garage, closet, attic, or friend’s house) important documents such as: birth certificates, driver’s license, lease or deed to your house, tax returns, rent receipts, bills, car registration, social security cards and a list of important phone numbers. It’s a good idea to also have a change of clothes ready for her and the children, toys and other necessities in case she needs to flee in the middle of the night. If the woman is unemployed, she may want to start checking day cares and looking through newspapers to find out what type of employment opportunities are available and finding out what type of financial help is in the community. It is also wise for a woman to get a bank account in her name prior to leaving and save as much money as possible.
(These safety plans apply to male victims as well)
Safety plan for when the relationship is over
- Plan to change all locks, install security system, smoke detectors and an outdoor lighting system. If you are the leaving the residence, it is important that you find a safe place to go, such as Safehouse Shelter. If you stay with a friend or family member, be sure to let them know that he may come looking for you and be prepared to call the police.
- Inform people that your partner no longer lives with you and to notify you if he/she is seen in the area.
- Tell people who take care of your children who has permission to pick them up. Supply them with copies of court papers ordering the abuser to stay away.
- Avoid locations where you may run into your batterer.
- Obtain a protective order from the court, keep it with you at all times, put an additional copy in a safe place or with a friend and notify police of violations.
- Make plans to contact someone for support: friend, hotline, family or attend support groups offered by Safehouse or other organizations.
Remember that when a person attempts to leave an abusive relationship is when it becomes the most dangerous.