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Safety Planning for Victims of Domestic Violence
For Those Who Decide To Stay:
Learn to identify clues as to when violence
may occur, for example: body language, alcohol/drug use, pay day,
Know an escape route from the home and practice it. Be sure to have
a regular reason for leaving the home each day such as walking the dog
or taking out the trash.
Set up a signal or code word with children, neighbors,
and friends. Teach children how to call 911 and tell them it is okay to do so
if they feel you are in danger.
Think about what you have done in the past to
keep yourself safe. What has worked, what hasn't?
Know your resources. Where can you go for help,
who can help you?
Get a cell phone, carry it or hide it somewhere you think you
can get to. Do not let the abuser know you have the phone.
Don't take chances. Don't assume you can work it out.
Remember that you can't predict your partner's behavior
and you are not responsible for it. The most important thing you can do is
plan for it.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE PLANNING TO LEAVE :
Follow the same steps recommended for Victims Who Decide to Stay.
Start hiding money or open a secret bank account. Tell him you spent
more money on an item than you really did, i.e. say you spent $75 on groceries
when you really spent $50.
Get a post office box.
Let people you trust know your plan and allow them to help you.
Gather important documents that you will need and may not be able to
go back for such as birth certificates, social security cards, car titles,
insurance information, account numbers, etc.
Thoroughly think out your plan to leave, what does it entail? What are
you waiting for, what factors affect your decision to leave?
Cover your tracks, make sure that phone, gas, credit card companies,
your employer, your doctor, your friends don't give out any information
Consider what you will do if you must leave before your planned leave
Make sure you have your legal situation under control. Know your options
(protective order, etc.) Also, know what you can and can't do legally:
Can you take the car, take the children out of state? Consider what may
happen if you leave your children with the abuser.
Think about transferring children to another school so the abuser cannot
Make sure you have a safe place to go, somewhere the abuser will not
know about or think to look, i.e. a shelter, a hidden apartment, a relative
he (she) does not know. Make sure you choose a place where someone will
Consider what you will do with your pets. Can you take them with you;
does your local shelter have safe cages for animals in domestic violence
Learn to see your life first and your possessions second.
FOR THOSE WHO HAVE LEFT :
Follow the plans for Victims Who are Staying and for those Planning to
Use the legal system.
Understand that the legal system cannot guarantee your safety, you must
plan for and contribute to your own protection.
Be sure your plan includes your daily activities, what happens when you
go to work or church, what happens when the kids go to school?
Listen to your feelings. Your instinct is your greatest tool. If something
feels unsafe, it probably is.
If possible, alert your employer to your situation. If you have
a protective order, provide the security at your job with a copy.
If you should agree to meet with your partner, be sure it is in a public
place and try to bring someone else with you. Make sure the abuser does
not follow you home.
If your partner is following you in a car, drive to a police station
or a well-populated area such as a store and keep honking your horn to
Keep a journal of harassing phone calls, "chance meetings" outside
of work, school, or on the street, and anything that happens between the
abuser and you or your children. Save all phone messages and letters. Have
the Phone Company monitor the number of calls you receive from his/her
Follow any court orders. Report violations to the police
Concentrate on staying safe; do not let your
If you had to leave without your children or pets, do not go back for
them alone, go with the police or pick them up somewhere where the abuser
Remember that you are not alone! No matter what
the abuser or anyone says, the abuse is not your fault. Please get help
and support from your family and friends.
CAN I HELP MY TEEN FORM HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS?
A Guide for Parents
Teach your Teen to Protect Him or Herself
Help your teen become aware of the issues involved in teen dating violence.
Encourage her/him to evaluate the safety of various situations. Help
teens develop self-awareness by encouraging them to think, act, and make
decisions for themselves.
Teach your Teen to be Assertive
Assertiveness is the ability to exercise one's own rights while respecting
the rights of others. It means communicating exactly what you want and
don't want, standing up for yourself, and stating your opinion, thoughts
and feelings without abusing others. Help your teen learn the difference
between passive, assertive, and aggressive behavior.
Practice Conflict Resolution at Home
Productive confrontation involves honest communication, willingness to
listen to others, compromise and problem-solving. When parents provide
models of effective interpersonal interactions, they are teaching violence
Challenge the Attitudes and Images that Create a Tolerance for Violence
in Intimate Relationships
The media inundates us with images of unhealthy, frequently abusive intimate
relationships - help your teen decipher what she/he sees and hears in the
media. Teach them that no one deserves to be emotionally, verbally or physically
abused and that violence is never justified.
Help your Teen Identify and Define Healthy Relationships
In addition to feelings of love, emphasize the following characteristics
of healthy relationships:
Both partners give and take, each getting their
way some of the time.
Both partners respect each other and value one another's
Both partners support and encourage each
other's goals and ambitions.
Both partners trust one another and learn not
to inflict jealous and restrictive feeling on the other should they arise.
Both partners communicate openly and honestly.
Both partners share responsibilities in decision-making.
Both partners accept the differences between
Both partners encourage each other to have
friends and activities outside the relationship.
Neither is afraid of the other.
Adapted from What Parents Need to Know About Dating Violence by
Barrie Levy and Patricia O. Giggians, June 1995,
Seal Pr Feminist Pub.
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