Domestic abuse: How can I keep myself safe?

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Personal safety plan

Having a personal safety plan is essential if you or your children are suffering abuse or living in a violent home. In an emergency the single most important factor is your physical safety and the safety of any children you may have.

Every person's situation is different, so you may need to take all or only some of these steps recommended in this section.

In an emergency always call 999.

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Safety during a violent incident

If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area where you can exit quickly and easily. Try to stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom or anywhere else where weapons might be available.

Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, lifts or stairwell would be best.

Have a bag packed and keep it at a relatives or friends home in order to be ready to  leave quickly.

Identify one or more neighbours you can tell about the violence and ask that they call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.

Devise a codeword to use with your children, family, friends and neighbours when you need them to call the police.

Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don't think you will ever need to).

If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving the abuser what they want to get them to calm down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.

Always remember that you don't deserve to be hit or threatened.

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After a violent incident

  • get to a safe place
  • call the police
  • if injured, see your doctor or go to hospital as soon as possible
  • think about speaking to a police officer from the Community Safety Unit
  • consider seeking advice from a solicitor

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Preparing to leave

Open a savings account and/or credit card in your name to start to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.

Get your own post office box. You can privately receive cheques and letters.

Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, medicines, clothes and sentimental items with someone you can trust so you can leave immediately.

Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.

Keep this directory and important contact numbers close at hand and keep some change or a phone card on you at all times for emergency phone calls.

Leaving an abuser is the most dangerous time. Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your abuser

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Safety in the home

If you do not live with the abuser or he or she has left the home, it is important that you take some or all of the following steps to stay safe. 

  • discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them
  • inform the children's school or nursery about who has permission to pick up your children
  • inform your neighbours and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see them near your home
  • get in touch with the local police Community Safety Unit so they can ensure a speedy response to an emergency call from your address
  • consult a solicitor to see if you are able to change the locks on your doors and, if you can, buy additional locks and safety devices to secure windows

Ealing has a Sanctuary Project which can provide a range of security measures to make your home secure. This is a free scheme and referrals can be made by the police, domestic violence advocacy worker, social worker and housing officer.

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Court orders

The local courts can grant a non-molestation or occupation order, commonly known as an injunction. This legally orders the abuser not to contact you in an aggressive way either directly or through another person. It also means they have to stay away from your home. Your solicitor can help you put an order in place.

If the court grants an injunction, remember to: 

  • keep your injunction with you at all times
  • call the police if your partner breaks the injunction
  • if you have a solicitor let them know if your partner breaks the injunction
  • think of ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away
  • inform family, friends, neighbours, your doctor or health care worker and the people you work with that you have an injunction

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Safety at work and in public

Decide who at work to inform of your situation. This should include office or building security. Provide a picture of your abuser if possible.

Arrange to have an answering machine, caller ID or someone you trust to screen calls, if possible.

Make a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car, bus or train and wait with you until you are safely on your way. Use a variety of routes to go home if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened during you journey.

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Your safety and emotional health

If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust.

If you have to communicate with your partner, determine the safest way to do so.

Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs. Read books, articles and poems to help you feel stronger.

Decide who you can talk to freely and openly to give you the support you need.

Look into joining a group or counselling to gain support from others and to build confidence and self worth.

If you are worried about staying at home alone ask a friend or relative to stay with you.

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