Women and children need to feel and be safe whether they are in a relationship or not. One of the most dangerous times for Women and children is when they are leaving or when they have left an abusive relationship. Safety plans can be as big or small as you want them to be.
A Safety Plan for leaving can be...
- Have a bag packed that you can leave with a friend or family member. In this bag you may include clothing, toiletries, medicines, spare cash, children’s toys, relevant documents like birth certificates, drivers licence and bank details.
- Keep a cell phone with you at all times, even a pre pay phone with no credit can still ring 111.
- Plan and practice your escape route, involve the children in this plan also. Try and plan a safe time to leave and a way to get there. (Refuge, taxi, friend)
- Plan a safe place to be – this may be the Women’s Refuge safe house – talk to a Refuge advocate to help set these plans up.
Safety Plan for staying...
You may have decided that you are not yet ready to leave your relationship yet. Only you will know what is safest for you and your children. Always trust your instincts. Here are some things to consider for yourself and your children’s safety.
- Find all the emergency numbers you may need - Police, Refuge, doctors, Lawyers, Schools, Friends and family who can support you. Keep these with you at all times.
- Get a cell phone and keep this with you. Work and Income may be able to help with this.
- You could apply for a protection order. See Women’s Refuge for support with this or see your lawyer. You are still able to live with and have a relationship with someone and have a Protection order against them.
- Develop a plan for yourself and your children – what to do if violence happens at home or when you are out. Think about the safest place in the house to run to, somewhere where you can get outside. You may want to role play and practice this with your children.
- If it is safe to tell your friends or neighbours, let them know your fears and your safety plans. Ask them to ring the police if they see or hear anything untoward.
- Get your own set of house and car keys.
- Open your own bank account and try to put some money in it. You may talk to Women’s Refuge about supporting you to get on a benefit before you leave.
- Use the support of Women’s Refuge or other Domestic Violence agencies. And also your friends and family.
- Photocopy all personal documents like birth certificates for yourself and the children and keep them with you.
Safety plan for after you have left...
Here are some safety measures you can use to keep yourself and your children safe.
- Talk to Women’s Refuge or your lawyer about applying for a Protection Order, Tenancy or Occupation Order. Also about the care and contact arrangements for your children.
- Find and keep all the support numbers you may need – e.g. Women’s Refuge, Doctors, Lawyers, Schools, friends and family.
- Keep your cell phone with you at all times.
- Make the area around your home safer. Change the locks, get outside lights, repair damaged windows, trim underneath bushes and trees so you can see anyone hiding there.
- Tell your friends and neighbours that you have a protection Order and that the abuser is not allowed to come to your house. Ask them to ring the police if they see anything suspicious. You may want to set up a code like ringing and hanging up, ringing and hanging up again.
- Use your own bank account.
- Have your address and phone number unlisted. Go on the unpublished Electoral Roll. Tell Work and Income, your employer, landlord, Schools, doctors etc to keep all your details confidential.
- Use a third party when dealing with the abuser – e.g. when picking up children or returning property. Always take someone with you when this cannot be avoided.
- Develop a plan for yourself and the children about what to do in any situation – e.g. home, school, and public places – if you feel threatened.
- Help your children understand what is going on, they won’t need to know the details but they will need to feel reassured.
- Ask for help from friends and family.