Domestic violence can be dangerous, for both adults and children.
Survivors who are in violent relationships know this well. First Step works closely with survivors of violence to enhance and to fine tune a safety plan specific to their situations. Remember, leaving a batterer is the most dangerous time for victims of violence. Though each family is different, here are some ways to increase your odds of being safe:
Safety When Preparing to Leave:
- Open a savings account in your own name.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, medication and extra clothes with someone you trust, so you can leave quickly.
- Determine who would let you stay with them or lend you money. Make arrangements for pets.
- Keep First Step’s helpline close at hand (1-888-453-5900). Keep a calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls.
Safety in Your Home:
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
- Discuss a safety plan with your children. Discuss safety in the home and when you are not with them.
- Inform your children’s school, day care, etc. about who has permission to pick up your children.
- Inform neighbors and your landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see your partner near your home.
Safety During an Explosive Incident:
- If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area that has access to an exit and not a bathroom, kitchen or anywhere near weapons.
- Practice how to get out of your home safely.
- Have a packed bag ready and keep it hidden but accessible in order to leave quickly.
- Ask a neighbor to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
- Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police.
- Decide and plan where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you need to).
- Use your own instincts to judge if the situation is dangerous. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
- Always remember, you don’t deserve to be hit or threatened.
First Step will work with you and your children, at no cost to you, to develop a safety plan specific to your situation. Call the First Step helpline for more information: 1-888-453-5900 or 1-734-722-6800.