Make a crisis plan
Whatever choices you’re making about your relationship, it’s a good idea to have a crisis plan just in case you have to leave in a hurry. This might be when the relationship is over or to escape a particular assault, or to take a break for safety and sanity. Planning ahead can make dealing with an emergency much easier.
This is just a suggested plan of action, which you can add to, or change to suit you.
Find somewhere you can quickly and easily use a phone. (neighbour? relative? other contacts?)
Make and always carry with you a list of numbers for an emergency, include friends, relatives, local police, Women’s Aid and National Domestic Violence Hotline / Helpline.
- Save some money for bus, train or cab fares.
- Have an extra set of keys for house, flat, car.
- Keep the keys, money and a set of clothes for you and the children packed ready in a bag and leave it with a friend you can trust.
- Explain to your children who are old enough to understand that you might have to leave in a hurry and will take them with you or will arrange for them to join you. Discuss the escape drill.
If you have more time to plan, do as much as possible of the following:
- Leave when he’s not around.
- Take all of your children with you.
- Take your legal and financial papers, marriage and birth certificates, court orders, national health cards, passports, driving licence, child credit books, address book, bank books, cheque books, credit cards, etc.
- Take any of your personal possessions which have sentimental value – photographs or jewellery for example.
- Take favourite toys for the children.
- Take clothing for at least several days.
- Take any medicine you or your children might need.
If you do leave and later discover you’ve forgotten something, you can always arrange for the protection of a police escort to return home to collect it.
How can I increase my safety if I stay?
You may have decided that at this time in your life, you want to stay with your partner. This could be for a variety of reasons; you may hope that they’ll change, you may want to wait until the children are older or you may feel unable to survive on your own.Whatever your reasons, there are still things you can do to make yourself safer and feel more in control of your situation. You’re not responsible for the abuse but you do have a choice about how to respond to your partner and how best to keep yourself and your children safe.
Increasing your safety
It won’t always be possible to avoid violence and you probably already have ways to help you increase your safety. Below are some ideas which others have used:
- If you need to leave your home quickly, think about a safe way to do this. What doors will you use? Are there any windows you could use in an emergency?
- If you think a violent incident is about to occur, try to move to a low risk space where there is not easy access to weapons and you have access to an outside door.
- If possible, tell a neighbour about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises.
- Teach your children how to use the telephone so they can contact others for help. Think of a code word for your children and friends so they will know it’s an emergency.
- Use your judgment and knowledge of your partner. If the situation is very serious, you can give them what they want to calm them down. It’s important to protect yourself until you are out of danger.