If you or someone you know is the victim of domestic violence, the biggest concern is going to be the victim’s safety. It is almost always impossible to know for sure when a situation might arise and escalate so it’s wise to think ahead and be prepared for any eventuality. We have some safety tips for you to consider while you are putting together your preparations:
1. In Case You Have to Leave.
Hide money, spare keys, and a small bag of clothes at work or the home of a friend, trustworthy neighbor, or family member. If you have children, include a favorite toy or stuffed animal for comfort. Let your employer know what is happening and establish a safety plan for your workplace. Provide your employer with a current photo and any other information you may have (tattoos, birthmarks, mannerisms, social security number) to help them to identify the abuser.
2. Legal Protection.
If you have a protective order in place, give them a copy and provide one to close friends or anyone that may receive a visit from the abuser or the police. If you have not filed one, seriously consider doing this. Keep all text messages, voicemails, letters, emails, or any other communication from the abuser for your legal protection. Document physical harm that was done, such as wounds, bruises, etc.
Gather all important documents, such as passports, birth certificates, social security cards, insurance documents, ownership documents for cars and homes, as well as bank info, such as checkbooks and account numbers. Conceal this paperwork in a safe location inaccessible to the abuser, such as a bank deposit box at a bank only you know about, or a trusted friend’s house.
If a situation is escalating, move away from any room in the home where there may be sharp or heavy objects that can be used as a weapon. Decide beforehand which doors or windows can be used to escape, and have an escape route planned out. Never wear scarves or necklaces. Ensure ahead of time that guns are not loaded. If you have children, teach them a safe word so they know to hide or call the police.
5. After Leaving.
Change all locks on your doors if you think the abuser may have a key. Install safety measures, such as outside lighting and a security system. You may want to get a post office box for mail. Be sure that everyone in your life you trust knows that you do not live with the abuser any longer. Additionally, share your safety plan with anyone you can rely on and be sure your children understand it. The school or daycare need to know the situation as well. They will need copies of any court documents that outline whether the abuser can have contact with the children or not.
Bridges Domestic Violence Center is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to assisting victims of physical, mental, and sexual abuse. If you have experienced domestic violence or your children have witnessed domestic violence, we recognize that the decisions you face are difficult ones. Our role is to provide a safe place for you to make those decisions and to regain control of your life.
We provide a 24-hour crisis hotline staffed by people who can help immediately, an outreach support group, and shelter at an undisclosed location. Our programs do not discriminate based on sex, race, religion, class, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age, or marital status. Our services are supported by local law enforcement officials, government grants, corporations, foundations, and individual contributions. We are a member agency of United Way of Williamson County. Our staff and volunteers are dedicated to the belief that no man, woman, or child, under any circumstance, should be subjected to domestic abuse.