Know your abuser’s red flags.
Be on alert for signs and clues that your abuser is getting upset and may explode in anger or violence. Come up with several believable reasons you can use to leave the house (both during the day and at night) if you sense trouble brewing.
Identify safe areas of the house.
Know where to go if your abuser attacks or an argument starts. Avoid small, enclosed spaces without exits (such as closets or bathrooms) or rooms with weapons (such as the kitchen). If possible, head for a room with a phone and an outside door or window.
Be prepared to leave at a moment’s notice.
Keep the car fueled up and facing the driveway exit, with the driver’s door unlocked. Hide a spare car key where you can get it quickly. Have emergency cash, clothing, and important phone numbers and documents stashed in a safe place (at a friend’s house, for example).
Practice escaping quickly and safely.
Rehearse your escape plan so you know exactly what to do if under attack from your abuser. If you have children, have them practice the escape plan also.
Come up with a code word.
Establish a word, phrase, or signal you can use to let your children, friends, neighbors, or co-workers know that you’re in danger and the police should be called.
Make and memorize a list of emergency contacts.
Ask several trusted individuals if you can contact them if you need a ride, a place to stay, or help contacting the police. Memorize the numbers of your emergency contacts, local shelter, and domestic violence hotline.
Keep change and cash on you at all times.
Know where the nearest public phone is located, and have change available so you can use it in an emergency situation to call for help. Also try to keep cash on hand for cab fare.
Additionally, to keep yourself safe from domestic abuse and violence you should document all abuse. If you’ve been injured, take photographs. If you have been abused in front of others, ask witnesses to write down what they saw. Finally, don’t hesitate to call the police if your abuser has hurt you or broken the law. Contact the police even if you just think your abuser might have broken a law. Assaulting you, stealing from you, and destroying your property are all crimes.
Coping Strategies for abuse victims.
Coping Strategy #1: Keep a journal in a safe place where your abuser will not find it. Write down all the ways that you are being abused. Financial control, emotional put-downs, isolation, threats, control, and any physical violence or threats to you, pets, property or someone you love.
Kathy quickly lost her support system and thus did not have anyone to help guide her through her troubled relationship. Victims of domestic violence need to rebuild a support system.
Coping Strategy #2: Build a support system, get a therapist, and go to a support group. Tell at least 2-3 people the honest story about what is happening in your relationship.
Kathy stayed in the relationship hoping it would get better. Abuse is progressive and always get worse over time. Kathy was not aware of community resources and she did not plan for the abuse to occur again. She saw each episode as an isolated incident that she believed (and naively hoped) that it would never occur again.
Coping Strategy #3: Get out of the relationship! If you are not yet strong enough to get out, create a safety plan, but work on trying to get out!
Kathy was afraid and over time began to doubt her rights to have a safe, healthy and happy relationship.
Coping Strategy #4: Realize that you deserve healthy, happy relationships and abuse is against the law.
Another challenge that Kathy faced is that she gradually gave up more and more of her control over her own life. She even turned her business over to her husband.
Coping Strategy #5: Empower yourself with new skills, knowledge and creativity. Do not give up control over things you can do for yourself.
Domestic abuse is ultimately fatal to the body, mind and spirit. Yet there is reason to hope. Many women have found their way out of violent relationships and have rebuilt their lives. They can find happy, healthy relationships.
Staying in the relationship for the sake of the children is not a good excuse. Witnessing domestic violence is now considered a form of child abuse that is prosecuted in many states.
This article suggests a few things that you can do to begin your healing and recovery process. Do not delay. Call a therapist that is experienced in dealing with domestic violence and begin your new life as soon as possible.
Domestic Violence Safety Plan
Sometimes there are warning signs before the escalation of violence. This safety plan was written to help you recognize and prevent other incidents of violence. This form should be filled out and copied with a trained professional.
I might recognize an increase in jealousy, controlling or possessive behavior, irritation or yelling. Based upon the past, I will be aware when I observe: (list some examples)
I am responsible for my own reactions, responses and safety. The following behaviors might calm or escalate the situation. Which would work best for me to calm things down (based on what has worked or not worked in the past)?
1. Going to another room:
2. Getting busy with:
5. Remaining quiet:
There are times when no matter what is done, a violent incident will erupt.
Steps to stay safe are:
Leave the house and go:
Call the police and:
Alert a neighbor in advance to call the police when:
Things to be aware of and keep in a safe place:
1. Location of all phones and exits in the house.
2. Phone number of the police or domestic violence advocate:
3. Domestic violence Hotline .
5. Safety and care of children.
6. Duplicate set of keys to the car.
7. Hidden emergency money.
8. Copies of important documents and papers like birth certificates, passports and visas.
9. Possible alternate living arrangements.
10. Packed suitcase.
11. Check books, bank books, credit cards, or at least their account numbers.
12. Social security number for yourself, partner and children. Knowing your partner's SS# is vital to the collection of child support and monies.
A temporary Restraining Order or Protective Order is an option that will offer protection under the law. Ask the police to help you file a Domestic Violence Complaint.
You can ask for:
1. The abuser to be removed from your home and prohibited from returning.
2. No phone contact or harassment by the abuser.
3. Custody of the children.
4. Temporary Support.
5. Possession of the residence.
6. Professional counseling at domestic violence center for yourself and abuser.
7. Alcohol/drug rehabilitation for yourself or the abuser.
8. Monetary compensation for out-of-pocket expenses.
READ THE PROTECTIVE OR RESTRAINING ORDER CAREFULLY TO UNDERSTAND YOUR RIGHTS AND OBLIGATIONS
INFORM POLICE OF ANY VIOLATION OF A PROTECTIVE OR RESTRAINING ORDER