If you are experiencing violence, whether or not you have decided to leave there are steps you can take to keep you and your children as safe as possible.
An Emergency Escape Plan
An emergency escape plan focuses on things you will need if you have to escape quickly to find safety. Many of the suggestions below can be carried out while you are living with an abusive partner and are items you can set aside in the case of an emergency evacuation from your home. The following emergency escape plan is taken from the Family Transition Place.
- Take a photocopy of the following items and store them in a safe place, or leave them with someone else if you can:
- Passports, birth certificates, immigration papers, for all family members
- Drivers licence and registration
- Welfare identification
- Work permits
- Custody documentation, divorce papers, court orders, restraining orders
- House deed, lease agreement
- Insurance papers
- Bank book
- Address book
- Picture of spouse or partner
- Health cards
- Try to keep the cards you normally use in your wallet.
- Try to keep your wallet and purse close by, and containing the following:
- Car/house/office keys
- Cheque book
- Drivers licence, registration and insurance
- Address/ telephone book
- Picture of spouse/partner
- Emergency money, in cash hidden away
Creating a Safe Environment
- Below are some suggestions to create a safer environment if you are living with your abusive partner/ spouse
- Have an emergency escape plan in mind, and go over it often
- Create a list of numbers you may need if you have to leave quickly (like; shelters, the police, crisis lines, friends, family members and counsellors.)
- Make arrangements with friends, so that you can stay with them if needed
- Teach the children to let you know if someone is at the door
- Teach your children how to use the phone to contact the police
- Create a code word with your children and friends so they know to call for help or get out
Safety Planning with Children
- Teach children how to use the phone to call for help. If possible have them call from a “safe room” that you have decided on such as a bedroom away from dangerous objects, a closet etc. (REMEMBER: if your kids are calling the police from a landline, most times the police will call back! If your partner does not know they have called this can become dangerous. Teach your children to leave the phone off the hook after calling. Unplugging the phone may not always work if there are multiple phones in the home.
- If you live in a building avoid having children hide on the balcony or any place that can potentially become unsafe.
- Create a code word with children so they know when to leave or call for help.
- Teach your children not to open the door, or to let you know when someone is at the door.
Below are some suggestions to keep you as safe as possible if you are not living with your abusive partner/spouse:
- Change the locks on your doors and windows, and install a peep hole
- Teach your children to let you know if someone is at the door and not to answer the door themselves
- Have your telephone number unpublished
- Consider getting a cellular phone and have emergency numbers saved
- If you are living in an apartment building check hallways when you are exiting the elevator, and speak to building security, or make an anonymous call requesting safety in your building
- Consider the advantages of getting a guard dog or security system
- Install a motion activated lighting system outside your house