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Statistics show that the most dangerous time for victims of domestic violence is when they decide to leave their abusive partners. Safety planning gives you the opportunity to think about how you can increase your safety and how best to respond to your abuser’s actions before another violent episode occurs.
This information is being provided to you to help keep you as safe as possible. Some of the information provided here may not apply to you. Your safety plan should be tailored to your unique situation, and should contain the tools and resources you will need to be prepared when your partner becomes violent.
You do not need to be in shelter to have a safety plan, or to have a Mercy Home advocate assist you in developing one. To make an appointment to meet with an advocate, or to speak to someone about an immediate situation, please call us at 453-1018, or toll-free at 1-800-352-7449. There is no charge to speak with an advocate, and advocates are available 24 hours a day.
Safety During Violence
Trust your gut intuition and judgment about what to do when your partner becomes violent.
Teach your children to go somewhere safe when an argument erupts and not to come between you and your partner.
Avoid rooms like the kitchen, which may contain knives or other possible weapons, and the bathroom, which may have no exit. Also consider escape routes through your house, and identify which rooms you could escape from most easily. If your partner becomes violent, try to move into one of these rooms.
Think about places you could go to be safe, even if you don’t think you will ever have to leave.
Safety When Leaving
You should know that a person in an abusive relationship is at the most risk when he or she decides to leave. Leaving or attempting to leave could escalate your abuser’s patterns of control or violence. The following are some suggestions to consider as you prepare to leave.
Know the Mercy Home crisis number and that you can contact us 24 hours a day.
Leave money, extra keys, copies of important documents and some clothes with someone you can trust. Copies of important documents may include: identification documents, such as drivers’ licenses or passport; IHS cards or paperwork; social security card; birth certificates; orders of protection; Green Card or work permit; and prescriptions and medication.
If you can, consider opening a safety deposit box in your name only for important documents or savings.
Revise and rehearse your escape plan from time to time.
Try always to keep gas in your car, and consider keeping a spare key somewhere where you could reach it easily.
Know that most cell phones have GPS tracking devices and that abusers have used this feature in the past to pinpoint the location of their victims. Consider getting a new phone and plan, and leaving your old phone behind.
In an emergency, call 911 first.
Safety After Leaving
If you have obtained an Order of Protection, carry a copy with you at all times. Inform people around you of the existence of the order, including local police dispatch if you have moved, officials at your children’s school, friends and family or co-workers and supervisors at your place of employment.
Report any and all violations of your Order of Protection to the police department. Document all of these reports yourself, even if the police do not come.
Keep in mind that an Order of Protection is not a bodyguard. It may even escalate your abuser’s dangerous or controlling behavior. Be vigilant of your surroundings at all times.
Change your routine so your abuser won’t necessarily know when and where you’ll be in a vulnerable position.
Know who you can call if you feel depressed or are considering returning to an abusive situation.
Consider attending support groups to connect with other women with similar experiences. Mercy Home’s support groups are FREE and confidential.
Copies of Mercy Home’s FREE brochure about Safety Planning are available at the YWCA. For more information about safety planning, or to speak with an advocate, please call us at 453-1018, or toll-free at 1-800-352-7449.