Understand that you do not have the power to control your partner's violence. But you do have a choice over how you respond to him/her and how best to get you and your children to safety.
During an argument, try to move to a space that has the lowest risk. These include a room with an outside door for escape. Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchen, or rooms with weapons.
Be aware of escape routes in your home. What doors, windows, elevators, or fire escapes are available?
Keep car keys accessible and have a friend that lives near-by keep a set.
Tell a neighbor about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear or see anything suspicious.
Teach your children and friends a special code word so they can call for help.
Be sure your children know how to use the telephone to contact the police or fire department.
Plan where you could go if you have to leave your home. Find out where there is a Domestic Violence Shelter or identify a friend or family member that could provide temporary shelter.
Use your judgment. You may need to give the abuser what they are demanding if the situation is very dangerous and you can't leave immediately. Wait until things have calmed down to get you and your children out of the home.
Keep some money, passports or other identification for you and your children in a safe place. Keep copies of these documents with a friend or other family member.
If you are planning on leaving, consider opening your own savings account to increase your independence.
Know the number of Domestic Violence Hotline. Program it into your cell phone.
If your violent partner has moved out, consider changing your locks, installing a security system, installing outside safety lights that light up if someone is close to your home.
Have rope ladders available to escape from 2nd-floor windows.
Teach your children who they can contact if your partner becomes violent and you are not available.
Get a protective order from the Court.
Inform your boss or co-workers of the situation.
Screen calls to avoid verbal abuse and avoid letting your partner know where you are.
Avoid consuming alcohol when you are around your batterer. You will not be able to think as clearly when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Decide when and where it is safe for you to consume alcohol.
Consider seeking help from a psychologist or other mental health professional to maintain your safety, physical, and emotional health.
It may not be necessary for you to leave right away or in the future. But it is your responsibility to provide for the safety of your children.
Attend a group for victims of Domestic Violence
Items to Take
Below is a list of items to take when you leave—or at least, to have copies of in a safe place. Remember, however, sometimes it is necessary to just leave with nothing but you and the children or very basic essentials. (This plan was adapted from the "Personalized Safety Plan, Office of the City Attorney, San Diego, CA, April 1990.)
Identification for You and Your Children
Birth Certificates for You and Your Children
Keys to House, Car, and Office
Children's Favorite Toys and Blankets
Lease, Rental Agreement, or Mortgage Payment
Items of Sentimental Value
Medications and Medical Records
Social Security Cards
Important Phone Numbers
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE(7233)
Your Local Police Department
Your Local Shelter
Your Local Battered Women's Program
Elaine Ducharme Ph.D ABPP Board Certified in Clinical Psychology