Information adapted from a brochure created by the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.
Nobody deserves to be abused. If you are in an abusive situation and are afraid, here is some information that can help keep you safe. If at any time you fear for your safety or the safety of others, call 911. If possible, leave.
Remember that your internet history may be visible to your abuser if you use the same internet network or the same devices. Delete your history or, if possible, use a network or device that your abuser can't access.
Safety During an Explosive Incident
- Try to position yourself in a room with an exit, like a window or door leading outside. Try to stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, or any other room that may contain weapons or hard surfaces.
- Try to get to a room that has a phone, or get a cell phone to take with you if possible.
- Devise a “911 code word” to use with your neighbors, children, family, and anyone else that may hear an argument. Inform anyone who may hear your voice that if they hear the code word they should immediately call the police.
- Plan a safe route ahead of time to leave your home. Practice exiting your home through identified doors and windows. Plan which elevator or stairwell would be best to use. If you cannot physically practice your escape, visualize it several times.
- Pack a bag with the checklist items [hyperlink to checklist, which will be at the end of the page]. Keep this bag either at a friend’s or family member’s house so you can pick it up quickly and easily.
- Plan where you will go if you leave your house and how you will get there.
- Use your own instincts and judgment. If the situation becomes very dangerous, consider doing whatever is necessary to calm the abuser down.
- Tell your children to never get involved during an argument between you and your abuser.
Safety in Your Home
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows. Consider adding outside security lighting and cameras if possible. Purchase rope ladders if needed. The Crime Victims Reparations fund may be able to cover some of these expenses.
- Request a new, unlisted phone number.
- Never tell your abuser where you live. Tell your children to do the same.
- Discuss a safety plan with your children. Inform them where to go and what to do if the abuser shows up.
- Inform your neighbors, landlord, neighborhood watch program, and anyone else who you feel may be helpful, that your abuser does not live with you and that if they see the abuser they should call the police.
- Call the police if your abuser threatens you, your family, or your home.
- Tell your children’s school, day care, etc., who has your permission to pick up your children.
- Use an answering machine or Caller ID to screen your calls.
Safety with a Protective Order
- Keep a physical or electronic copy of your protective order on you at all times.
- Consider giving copies of your protective order to your employer, coworkers, family, neighbors, teachers, friends, and church officials.
- Call the police if your abuser violates your protective order.
- When the police respond, get the officer’s name and badge number. You should not clean yourself or your home, and you should not do anything that might alter any evidence until it has been documented by the police.
- Keep a notebook with you at all times to document any violations of your protective order. You could also use the “notes” app on your phone. Write down the names of anyone involved, the time and place of the incident, if the police responded, and any other information you think is important.
- Think of alternative ways to stay safe if the police do not respond immediately.
Safety at Work
- Inform someone at work, such as your boss, of your situation. Include the security officers--give them a picture of your abuser.
- Don’t go to lunch alone.
- Arrange to have someone screen your calls or use caller ID or an answering machine.
- Have someone escort you to and from your car, bus, or rideshare. If necessary, trade vehicles with a friend so your abuser will not recognize your car.
- If possible, lock the office if you are alone.
- Park your car in a well lighted, visible area.
- Use a variety of routes to go to and from work.
Safety in Public
- Go to different grocery stores, businesses, and banks if possible. If this isn’t possible, change the time of day you go to these places.
- Use a variety of routes when going to and from your home.
- When possible, have someone escort you to your car.
- Try to park in well lighted, visible areas.
- Remain aware of your surroundings at all times. This may include not wearing headphones in public places.
- Pick “safe” places to go ahead of time in case something happens while you’re away from your home.
- Try to get rides with different people.
Safety When Preparing to Leave Your Abuser
REMEMBER: LEAVING YOUR ABUSER CAN BE A DANGEROUS TIME. IF POSSIBLE, LET A FAMILY MEMBER OR FRIEND KNOW YOUR SITUATION AND COME UP WITH A PLAN TOGETHER. CALL 911 IF YOU ARE IN DANGER.
- Open a bank account in your own name to establish or increase your independence. Ensure that your bank statement is sent to a safe address. Many banks also have paperless statements. Consider using a bank that your abuser does not use.
- Get your own post office box using a safe permanent address.
- If you have pets, make arrangements for them to be cared for in a safe place.
- Gather the items on the Checklist [hyperlink to checklist] and have them stored at a friend or family member’s house.
- Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or to lend you money.
- Keep the shelter/hotline numbers and some change with you at all times. Consider getting a cell phone your abuser does not know about and keeping it on you at all times.
- Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your abuser.
- If you use a computer or smartphone to learn more about leaving, delete your browsing history. There are ways to recover a deleted browsing history, so please consider the risks associated with your abuser discovering your browsing history.
Your Safety and Emotional Health
- If you are planning to return to a potentially abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with a person you trust.
- If you must communicate with your abuser, determine the safest way to do so. If possible, communicate over text or email to preserve a written record.
- Be assertive with others about what you need.
- Don’t be afraid to call the police and to ask for medical treatment. Be persistent about getting the care you need. Photograph all injuries.
- Decide who you can call to talk to freely and openly and give you the support you need.
- Plan to attend a victims’ support group to gain support from others and to learn more about yourself and your relationship. Information for some support groups can be found on our main resources page.
- Keep a journal. This journal can also be used to document any protective order violations, specific incidents of abuse, and any other important information you want to record. Record all contact with your abuser. Always keep this journal away from your abuser. You may want to keep it at your office or at a friend or family member’s house. Save all messages and recordings from your abuser.
Get these items and documents together and have them readily available. Keep them at a neighbor’s or family member’s house.
- Driver’s License
- Birth Certificate (yours and your children’s)
- Social Security card (yours and your children’s)
- Money (cash, some change, and any credit cards in your name)
- Checking and savings account information
- Loan/investment information
- Protective Order
- House deed, or lease/rental agreement
- Car title, registration, and insurance
- Health/life insurance information
- Medical records for you and your children
- School records
- Work permit/permanent resident card/visa/ITIN number/passport/matricula consular
- Divorce and custody papers
- Marriage license
- Tax return from previous year
- Medications, glasses, and hearing aides
- Additional house and car keys
- Safety deposit box key
- Valuable jewelry
- Address book
- Change of clothes for you and your children
- Current pictures of you, your children, and your abuser
- Vaccination/immunization information
- Charger for phone
- Appointment book/calendar