Staying Safe

 

Deciding what to do when you are in an abusive situation is hard. It is common to not know whether to stay or leave. It is your choice. Below are some options for staying safe.

 

General Safety Planning

You can build your support system and find ways to be safer. This applies to whether staying with an abusive partner or leaving. You can’t control your partner’s abusive behavior. However, you can take steps to protect yourself (and your children if you have any) from harm. You know your situation best. You know when remaining in the home and/or in the relationship is no longer an option. Safety plans are important whether you are staying in or leaving a relationship. 

Staying In The Relationship

If you stay, you can find support and safety. Think of answers to the following questions. Remember, staying as safe as possible is the top priority. 

  • If you’re called names, how can you take care of yourself emotionally? What friends can you trust? 
  • Is there a safe place to stay in case you need to leave for a few days if it gets dangerous or if you need a break? 
  • What is the safest place in the house to avoid serious injury? 
  • What is the best physical position to take to avoid serious injury? 
Planning To Leave

Leaving takes planning. Think about the following questions. With time and the support of friends or a domestic violence advocate, you can make a safe plan for leaving. 

  • How can you get money? 

  • Will you be safe at home until you leave? 

  • When can you leave? 

  • How will your partner react? 

  • What might prevent you from leaving safely? 

  • Will you take legal action? 

  • Do you need an attorney?

    • Peace at Home has legal services available. Contact us for help.

Leaving The Relationship

Leaving is a big life change. You can still be in danger from your abuser. Think about the following questions. A new life is possible, even if it is hard to imagine. 

  • Will you have to move or change jobs so you can't be found? 

  • Will you need to stop talking to certain friends? 

  • Will you need to take a break from social media? 

  • Will you call the police or get an Order of Protection? 

What To Expect When Calling The Police

One goal of law enforcement is to ensure a victim’s safety. Most police departments understand the importance of responding quickly to calls about domestic violence. The first thing they will do when they arrive is to make sure that no further injuries will occur.

 

The police must then gather facts about what happened. They may talk to anyone who was part of the incident, or who witnessed or heard the incident. They will look to see if there is any “physical evidence” of an altercation, such as bruises or blood on a person, torn clothing, or broken furniture. The officers then evaluate what they have heard and seen. They will then decide whether a crime has been committed and whether anyone should be arrested. They can also call for medical help if it is needed.

 

Sometimes the police will arrest a person when they come to the scene. Sometimes they will arrest the person later. Sometimes they will never make an arrest. In almost all family violence cases, the police must arrest anyone they believe has committed a crime, based on the facts. 

Make A Safety Plan

 

A safety plan is a personalized and practical plan that helps you identify things you can do to better protect yourself (and your children) at home, school, work, and in the community. It will also help to reduce your risk of being hurt. The changes that occur may be big, like going to a confidential shelter or changing schools. The changes may be small, like changing your email passwords or the route you take to work. Planning can help you to safely escape violence, protect your children, and get assistance or support if needed. 

 

A Peace at Home advocate can help you create a personal safety plan.

How Can You Support A Friend or Loved One Experiencing Abuse?

You can provide help and support for a friend or loved one who is experiencing abuse. 

 

Express your concern. Accept that your friend is in a very difficult, scary situation. Let your friend know that the abuse is not their fault, you believe them, and you are concerned about their safety. Encourage your friend to express their feelings and get help. 

Helpful Tips:

  • Remember that it may be difficult for your friend to talk about it.

  • Respect your friend’s right to make decisions.

  • Offer to go with your friend when they seek help.

  • Understand that you cannot “fix” the situation.

  • Plan safe strategies with your friend, including:

    • Having a code word your friend can use to signal a need for immediate help.

    • Discussing the safest places in their home if the abuser becomes physically violent.
    • Leaving an "emergency kit" at your place that contains:
      • Clothing
      • Toiletries
      • Important documents

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