If you think you are experiencing abuse, you might need to think about how to keep yourself (and your children if you have any) safe. You are probably already doing things to increase your safety like planning ahead for situations when you think the abuse might happen or might be worse.
It can be very useful to have a plan in place in case you need to leave the house in a crisis to keep yourself or your children safe.
If violence is happening or likely to happen, try to go to an area of the house where there is an exit. Try not to go to rooms where there are potential weapons (ie kitchen) or where you will be trapped (ie bathroom).
Think of where you can go if you need to leave quickly - somewhere close and safe. Pharmacies run the 'ask for Ani' scheme and will arrange a safe place for you to call support organisations.
Below are some of the things you could consider if you're planning to leave:
If planning to leave, try to have some money put away for emergency transport. If possible, open a bank account in your own name prior to leaving.
- Teach your children to call 999 and what they need to say (ie name and address) - you could agree a code word with your children so they know when to get help.
- If you can’t speak safely when calling 999, press 55.
- Pack an emergency bag - it may be safer to leave this with a friend or neighbour that you trust
- Pre-arrange a signal with a friend or neighbour so that they know you need emergency help
- Try to keep access to a phone at all times
- Ideally, keep personal documents (such as passports, birth certificates) in a place where you can access them easily if you need to leave. But don't delay leaving to find documents.
- Keep a diary or journal of incidents if safe to do so. This may help if you want to report to the police later.
- If the perpetrator has left, can you alert neighbours to the situation and ask them to call the police if worried?
After you have left
- Share any legal orders with the children’s school and other professionals. Make sure the school know who has permission to collect your children - and who doesn't.
- Secure social media accounts and ensure privacy settings are high. Don’t share photos that disclose location (or children in new school uniform if you’ve moved away).
- Close your curtains and blinds at night.
- Keep the house secure - Consider installing security lighting, cameras or a recording doorbell
- If you’ve left and your location is unknown, don’t withdraw money from a joint bank account. The ATM location will show on the bank statement.
- Make sure your mobile phone doesn't have tracking software installed.
- Secure your tech and online accounts – change passwords and email addresses and use two-step authentication. Victims are often traced to their new address when they order goods online a and haven’t changed their log in details (which may be known by or guessed by the perp). Go to https://www.refugetechsafety.org for guides.
The Domestic Abuse Helpline is available 24/7 on 0808 2000 247