Whether you are still in an abusive relationship or trying to get out, it is important to take precautions to protect yourself.
You have the right to live without fear and violence. Being abused is never your fault and although you cannot control your abuser’s violence, you do have a choice about how to respond and how to get to safety. Decide for yourself if and when to tell others that you have been abused, or that you are still at risk. Friends, family and co-workers can help protect you, if they know what is happening, and what they can do to help. Finally, personalize your safety plan. Take the information below into consideration and then tailor your safety plan so it is effective and most useful for you.
Safety During a Violent Incident
- Do what you can to position yourself in a room with an exit, such as a room with a window or door leading outside. Try to stay away from areas that have no exit, may contain weapons or hard or sharp surfaces.
- Try to keep your phone and charger near you, and do your best to have it charged at all times.
- Trust and use your instincts and judgment.
Safety When Planning Ahead
- iConsider the safest exit route. You can ask yourself these questions: Which door or window will be the safest? Which stairwell or elevator will you use? If it is difficult to practice your escape, you can imagine it in your mind several times.
- Pack a bag with important items. Please note that it is not always possible or safe to collect everything on the list. When it is possible, collect them all and place them in a safe place to be readily available.
- Identification: Driver’s license, birth certificate (for you and your children), social security card, work permit/permanent resident card/ITIN number, passport
- Important documents: House deed or rental lease agreement, protection order, car registration and insurance papers, health or life insurance information, medical records (for you and your children), divorce and custody agreement, marriage license, school records, tax return from previous year, vaccination/immunization information
- Financial: Cash, credit/debit cards, checks, checking and savings account information, loan/investment information
- Emergency numbers: your local police department, domestic violence shelter, friends, relatives, and family members, local hospital
- Other items: Extra set of house and car keys, medications, valuable jewelry, cell phone/charger, sentimental items, change of clothes (for you and your children), glasses/contacts, hearing aids
- Plan where you will go, you can always call: 435-628-0458 for shelter services or the statewide domestic violence LINKLine at: 1-800-897-LINK (5465).
- Open a bank account in your name to establish or increase your independence. Ensure that your statement is sent to a safe mailing or email address.
- If you have pets, make arrangements for them to be cared for in a safe place. DOVE Center may be able to assist you with this.
- Determine who will allow you to stay with them or who may be able to lend you emotional and financial support.
- If you leave, consider that the following month’s phone bill will show the abuser those numbers you called after you left. To keep your phone communications confidential, consider asking to use a friend’s phone for a limited time.
- Come up with a safe code word and share it with your neighbors, children, family and anyone else that may be able to help. Inform them that if they hear an argument and they hear the safe code word to call the police immediately.
Safety With Children
- Teach safety strategies to your children, appropriate to their age and development.
- Remind your children to never get involved during an argument between you and your abuser.
- Identify other safe adults with your children and give them safe contact instructions.
- Teach your (age appropriate) children what to do if there is an unsafe situation, so that they do not have to witness or be a part of it.
- Rehearse escape plan and, as appropriate, practice it with your children.
- Come up with a safe code word and children. Inform them that if they hear an argument and they hear the safe code word to call the police immediately.
- If you have already left, discuss a safety plan with your children. Inform them where to go and what to do if the abuser shows up.
Safety After Leaving
- Do your best to keep your location confidential.
- Change the locks on your doors and windows as soon as possible.
- Install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
- Advise those who have permission to take care of your children (friends, family, school, daycare) of your current situation.
- Purchase a new phone and remove your phone service from your abuser’s account.
- Inform your neighbor or landlord to call the police if they notice your abuser showing up.
- Save and document all contacts, messages, injuries or other incidents involving the abuser.
- If you have to meet your abusive partner, do so in a public place.
- Vary your routines; e.g. shop at a different grocery store, if possible change your hours at work, change regular appointment times, etc.
Safety at Your Place of Employment
- Notify your supervisor and the human relations manager about the circumstances regarding your situation.
- Give the receptionist, security guard or front line staff a description or photo of the perpetrator.
- Park your car in a public, well-lit area.
- If you use public transportation, sit closest to the driver and/or the exit.
Safety with Technology
- Change your passwords.
- Update your privacy settings on social media.
- Block/remove phone numbers.
- Turn off location settings and/or ‘check-ins’.
- Ask friends not to tag you in their posts.
- Check for spyware.
Safety with Emotional Health
- Get support through a counselor, advocate, or support group in your area. See DOVE Center’s 24-Hour Helpline.
- Keep a journal. This journal can also be used to document any Protective Order violations, specific incidents of abuse and any other important information you want to record. Record all contact with the abuser. Always keep this journal away from your abuser. You may want to keep it at your office or with a friend or family member. Save all messages/recordings from your abuser.
- Prioritize self care.
Safety with Pets/Service Animals
If you are planning to stay
- Keep emergency provisions for your pet in case your abuser withholds money.
- Keep the phone number of the nearest 24 hour emergency veterinary clinic
- Establish ownership of your pet by creating a paper trail (e.g. obtain a license, have veterinarian records put in your name)
If you are planning to leave
- Obtain safe emergency shelter for pet, somewhere that won’t be disclosed to your abuser (e.g. veterinarian, friend, or family). Call DOVE Center’s 24-Hour Helpline to learn more about our Safe Pets Program.
- Pack a bag for your pet that includes food, medicine, documents of ownership, health documents, leash, collar, ID and Rabies tag, carrier, toys, and bedding
If you have left
- Keep pets indoors (if possible)
- Don’t let the pet outside alone
- Pick a safe route and time to walk your pet
- Don’t exercise/walk pet alone
- Change your veterinarian