If you are a victim of domestic violence, make a safety plan to help you figure out what to do the next time you are in danger.
Determine how you will get out safely the next time you are attacked. (What doors, windows, elevators, stairwells, or fire escapes will you use?) Take your children with you.
If possible, call 9-1-1. If you cannot safely call from where you are, place the call as soon as you are out of the house and out of danger. Alert your neighbors to call 9-1-1 for you if they hear suspicious sounds coming from your apartment or house.
If you are injured, go directly to the nearest emergency room. Tell the doctor who attacked you (do not try to protect the abuser), and ask that your injuries be documented and photographed.
Think ahead of about 4 places you can go if you cannot return home (friends, family, church). If you don’t know where to go, the police or emergency room personnel will provide you with information about the nearest shelter. It is not safe to use a credit card to pay for food, travel, or lodging, since the abuser can find out where you are, and can cancel the card without your knowledge.
Organize Important Papers
Keep money, car keys, important papers, and clothes in a safe place where you can get them quickly. A safe place does not mean in your home or car (he could easily find them) . Ask friends or family to keep them for you. Important papers include:
- Birth certificates (for you and your children)
- Marriage certificate
- Social Security cards
- School and medical records
- Bank and credit card statements
- Deeds and titles (car and house, etc.)
- Insurance papers
- Address book
- Videos, pictures and sentimental mementoes
- Children’s favorite books, toys, blankets
- Keys to house, car, office
- Unpaid bills
- Journals or a diary
- Tax returns and other financial documents
- Documentation of criminal activity, etc.
Some of the above documents can be photocopied to avoid suspicion, while you will need the originals of others. Make sure you make an extra set of keys for the house, car, post office box, safe deposit box, etc. for storage in a safe place.
Following an attack, do not protect the abuser! Press charges and get a restraining order. Do not fall for abuser’s sudden plea for forgiveness and do not underestimate the danger you are in if you return home. Do not return to the abuser until he undergoes professional counseling and demonstrates significant change. This does not mean your only option is to file for divorce, but you should remain separated until both you and the therapist who has been treating him believes it is safe to return.
9 Page Safety Plan
For a more detailed, 9-page safety plan: Developing A Safety Plan.