One cannot anticipate when will an abusive situation escalates and may threaten your life. So it is always better to be prepared to leave the place if the situation demands.
1Get a secure phone. There are many ways that abusers can monitor your phone use.
- An abusive partner can install an app on your phone that can track your calls or listen in on them, or s/he can use the GPS feature to track where you are.
- Consider getting a prepaid cell phone or another phone that your partner does not know about
2Use computers and mobile devices with caution. Your internet access may be monitored. When possible, use computers at a public library or a trusted friend or family member’s house. Remember that your abuser may have your login information and could read your emails or social media activity. Update passwords for all your online accounts. Create a new email account for the purpose of discussing your safety.
3Create and memorise a list of emergency contacts, ask several people you trust if you can contact them if you are in danger or need assistance. Memorise the phone numbers and addresses for organisations and people who are willing to help you, such as your local women’s shelter or men’s help homes.
- If you have purchased a secret prepaid cell phone, program these contacts into its memory.
- Your list should include your domestic abuse hotline.
- Gather contact information for local women’s shelters, police departments, and trusted friends and family members.
- Give a copy of this list to someone you trust. That way, you will have it even if you are forced to leave your home at a moment’s notice.
4Identify safe areas of the house and be prepared. You can go there when you notice your partner’s behaviour escalating. Find a safe space, safe areas should be large and open, preferably with an exit such as a door or a window.
- Avoid the kitchen since knives may be used as weapons, and avoid bathrooms since they are usually small and enclosed.
- Make sure all family members follow the same plan in an emergency so no one gets left behind if escape is necessary. It is better to use a “code” to communicate with your family members and friends that you are in danger.
- Keep your car filled with gas and unlocked. Hide a spare car key outside so you can make a fast getaway.
5Carry these when you are planning to leave your partner.
- Identification documents for yourself and your children
-Driver’s license/ration card/photo identification or passports
-Important personal papers
-Health insurance papers and medical cards
-Medical records for all family members
-Children’s school records
-Investment papers/records and account numbers
-Rental agreement/lease or house deed
-Car title, registration, and insurance information
-Chequebook and bankbook (with deposit slips)
-Jewellery or small objects you can sell if you run out of money or stop having access to your accounts
-At least 1 month’s supply for all medicines you and your children are taking, as well as a copy of the prescriptions
6Open a bank account in your name. One of the ways that many abusers maintain control of their victims is restricting access to finances. If you can, open a bank account in your name. Keep a debit card for the account in your emergency bag.
7Contact the police, an attorney, or legal aid through a domestic violence agency about your children. If your children are minors, your abuser may be able to accuse you of kidnapping if you take them with you when you escape. Get some legal advice about how to keep yourself and your children safe without putting yourself at risk of prosecution.