A Safe Place for Change

 

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Are you in a relationship in which you do not feel safe? Do you ever feel threatened or forced to do something you do not want to do?

You do not have control over your partner’s behavior. But you do have a choice about how you respond to it. It is difficult to leave a relationship and seek a safe place to live with someone you trust or in a domestic violence shelter. It may take several attempts before you can permanently leave.

Once you decide that leaving is in your best interest, you will still need to handle the emotional, physical, and financial issues that you will face. We strongly recommend that you make a safety plan.

Your individualized plan addresses you and your family’s unique situation and helps to ensure that, if you decide to leave, you are as safe as you can be and you will have everything you need.

Your personal safety is the most important thing to us. We want to help you move to the safest place available to you.
The first step in safety planning is to fully understand your situation. It is important that you know that the pattern of abuse often begins with behaviors like name-calling and threats and can escalate to physical violence, sexual assault, and, in some cases, even murder. If you are afraid of your partner, you need to trust your instincts about your safety and your children’s safety. You are not alone. We are here to help you. Branches’ Safety Plan is a beginning.

Because you may not be aware of all your options, we encourage you to call Branches and speak with an advocate who can help you carefully make a safety plan. If you write out your plan, you must keep it in a safe place where your partner will not find it.

Communicate now with someone who can help and decide where you and your children would go if you needed to leave

    This may be especially difficult if your partner has isolated you; however, it is important to confide in someone who can help you:
  • If you are in immediate danger, you should call 911. You can dial 911 for free from most telephones, even most operating cell phones without current service.
  • Consider a trusted friend or family member who can listen without judging and keep your confidentiality.
  • A domestic violence hotline counselor (advocate) can help you figure out which friends and relatives might be able to help you.
  • An advocate can help you figure out alternatives if you have to leave at a time when no one you know is available to help you.
  • If you don't have a car, think of a safe place close to your home where your friend could pick you up. Also, know the routes to the bus stop and train station nearest your home.
  • You may want to plan a code word or phrase to use on the telephone with a friend if you need to access help when your abuser is present. Tell your friend that when you say that code word, it means you're in trouble and you need him/her to call 911 for you immediately!
  • If you feel comfortable, tell your neighbors about the violence and ask if they will call the police if suspicious noises are coming from your home.
  • If you have an Protective Order keep it with you at all times and keep a copy of it somewhere safe.

Decide how you and your children would get out of your home

  • Decide on a pathway if you have to leave at night. Think of public places you can access 24 hours a day.
  • Know the route to police stations, hospitals, fire stations, and 24-hour convenience stores in your area.
  • If you leave by car, make sure you lock the car doors immediately.
  • Consider making a plan for each room in your home. What can you do to get out of the basement or upper floors of your home?
  • Know which interior doors lock in your home.
  • If you live in an apartment building, think of all the ways to get out safely. Is there a fire escape that could get you safely to the ground? Is there a stairwell you could use?
  • Keep your essential belongings (credit cards/ID) and keys in a safe place, in case you have to leave quickly.
  • If you are afraid that your partner will harass you at work, plan an escape route from work. Also, give a photo of him/her to a supervisor you trust and ask that s/he not be allowed inside your place of work.
  • If you have an Injunction for Protection (IFP), give the security guard or receptionist a copy.

How to keep your children safe

  • Make sure your children know how to dial 911 in an emergency situation.
  • Instruct your children on where to go in an emergency