The following information can help you to increase your safety. Although you may not have control over your partner’s violence, you do have choices about how you will respond to your partner’s violence.
Come up with a safety plan before violence happens. Rehearse your plan and teach your children what to do if violence occurs.
Recognize there are certain indicators that your partner is building to a violent incident. Try to be aware of any changes in behavior that usually lead up to a violent incident. Be ready to use your plan before or when violence does occur.
Protect yourself by NEVER telling your safety plan to the person who is abusing you.
IF VIOLENCE OCCURS
You may not always be able to avoid a violent incident. You can increase your safety by deciding beforehand what you will do if your partner becomes violent.
Pick the places in your home that are lowest in risk to your safety. If you think there may be an argument or a violent incident, you can try to avoid the kitchen, bathroom, garage, places near weapons or rooms without access to a door or window.
Tell neighbors about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from your home.
You can use your best judgment and intuition about a violent situation. If the situation is very serious, you may choose to give your partner what he/she wants to calm him/her down. You need to protect yourself and your children until you are out of danger.
SAFETY WITH A PROTECTIVE ORDER
If you are married to or have lived with the batterer for at least 90 days in the last calendar year, or have a child in common with the batterer, you are eligible for a Protective Order. You can call the Center for Abused Persons Hotline at 301-645-3336 for more information and assistance in obtaining a Protective Order, and having an advocate accompany you.
Keep your Protective Order with you at all times. You may want to make several copies and keep them in your purse, your car, etc., in case the original is lost or destroyed.
Call the police immediately if your partner violates the Order. Violating a Protective Order is a crime and the police can arrest the violator.
Inform family, friends, neighbors, the rental office, co-workers and anyone else you can think of that you have a Protective Order so they can call the police if they see your partner violating the Order.
If your Protective Order gives you custody of your children, inform their school, day care, etc., about who has permission to pick up your children.
Being battered or verbally abused is usually exhausting and emotionally draining. If you need help or support, you may want to join a support or counseling group. You can find out about resources near you by calling the Center for Abused Persons 24-hour Crisis Hotline at 301-645-3336. If you cannot go to a program or group, you can call the Crisis Hotline to talk to someone. These steps may help you to cope with your situation or may help you to change it.
If you have left and are thinking about returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust or a counselor at the Center for Abused Persons.
You may want to seek counseling for your children. Children who have witnessed domestic violence are far more likely to experience abusive relationships as adults and experience other problems as well.
SAFETY WHEN PREPARING TO LEAVE
Be prepared in case you need to leave your home by coming up with a plan now, even if you think there won’t be a time when you need to leave.
Decide how you will get out of the residence. What doors, windows, stairwells, etc. can you use? Practice getting out safely now.
Decide now where you will go if you need to leave. Pick more than one place you know will be safe so that if you cannot get to your first choice, you have an alternative.
Keep a set of car keys and some change for cab or bus fare with you or near you at all times, so that when you need to leave, you will be able to get to your safe place. Call a friend or relative for help, or call the Center for Abused Persons’ Crisis Hotline regarding shelter at 301-645-3336. If it’s possible, memorize the Crisis Hotline number.
If you need to leave, you will need to take certain items with you. You should keep the items in a place you can get to quickly if you are leaving. You may want to make and keep copies of some important documents in a safe place in your home, or at a friend or family member’s house. IF GETTING THESE ITEMS INCREASES YOUR RISK, LEAVE WITHOUT THEM.
Some documents you may need if you do leave are:
- Birth Certificates for yourself and your children
- Driver’s License and Registration
- Social Security Cards
- Checkbook and ATM card
- Credit Card
- Extra set of keys to home, car and work
- Welfare Identification
- Work Permits
- Passport or Green Card
- Divorce Papers
- Children’s Vaccination/Medical Records
- Bank Book
- Address Book
- Medications and/or Prescriptions
- Health Insurance Cards
Leave a spare set of clothes for yourself and your children at a friend or family member’s home. Talk to a friend or family member you trust about your situation now and see if someone might be willing to let you stay with them or lend you money if needed.
REMEMBER: Everyone has a right to be safe!