Safety Planning (video)
Authored By: I-CAN, Inc.
How Can I Obtain Emergency Assistance and Shelter?
Move out or go to a safe place with your children. If you are a woman, stay with a female friend or with relatives. Do not stay with a man who lives alone, unless he is your brother, father, or grandfather. If you stay with a man who lives alone, the judge could think that you were committing adultery. This could cause a custody fight over the children. You could also lose any chances of getting alimony if you decide to get a divorce.
Try not to leave your children with the abuser. The judge might think you were neglectful if you leave them with someone you allege is violent. While on your own, you can get assistance to take care of the children.
Do not tell the person who is abusing you where you are staying. And be sure to take identification with you when you leave home.
Calling a crisis line is a non-threatening way to collect information, plan strategy and arrange shelter.
At the shelter you do not need money. If you have no personal belongings, clothing and other necessities can be obtained. The customary length of the stay is up to thirty (30) days. During this time you are encouraged to work out a plan of action. This plan will guide you toward resolving your crisis and meeting the basic needs of your family. Shelter residents attend group and individual counseling sessions which help you make decisions for your immediate future.
Another option is to stay in your home and file for a protective order to have your abuser move out. Even if you cannot afford the home on a permanent basis, you might want to stabilize yourself in the home and have him leave.
When you do not need or want shelter, talking with other women who have been abused, or trained advocates can help you decide what is best for you and your children. Domestic violence advocates will not tell you what to do or make decisions for you. They will keep all information confidential. If your children are being abused, domestic violence advocates will help you make the appropriate reports required by law. You will find that domestic violence workers will support whatever decisions you feel are best for you, whether it is to leave your abuser or stay in the relationship.
What Can I Do Before Another Attack?
Make contacts and build support systems.
Contact a domestic violence program and make them aware of your situation. Consider joining a support group with other abused individuals. Let your family and friends know about the violence. Visibility can save your life. You will find that you are not alone with this problem.
Plan ahead. Think about how your abuser usually prevents your leaving or getting assistance. You may want to learn how to reconnect battery cables on your car. You may want to purchase and hide extra car parts and keys. Do not be ashamed to share your situation with friends.
Trust your instincts. Leave before an attack when you feel that a violent episode is imminent. Your children can leave with you; his permission is not required. To avoid legal entanglements you should contact a domestic violence program for assistance once you flee the home.
The property of the family, including the car, is almost always regarded as belonging equally to the husband and wife. It does not matter if the title of the car is in his name, your name, or both names.
Your spouse cannot legally forge your name to payroll, welfare, or joint income tax checks. The bank may have to reimburse you if they cash checks for your spouse with a forged signature. Likewise, you cannot forge his name. Both parties can withdraw joint savings only until a Petition for Divorce requesting a division of property has been filed. Once the petition has been filed, you need to contact an attorney.
If you have any questions about your rights to the property, check with advocates at your local domestic violence program.
You can get assistance from the police if you want to leave and your spouse will not allow you to leave. You will not be required to press charges and usually the police will assist you in taking the children and a few personal items. If it is dangerous to spend time getting your personal belongings, these things can be recovered later after you have obtained a Protective Order.
Checklist for Leaving An Abuser
Here are some helpful items to get together when you are planning on leaving an abusive situation. Keep these items in a safe place until you are ready to leave. Of course, if you have children, take them. If possible, take your pets, too.
Identification for yourself and your children
- birth certificates
- social security cards (or numbers written on paper if you can't find the cards)
- driver's license
- photo identification or passports
- DHS documents
- green card
- Important personal papers
- marriage certificate
- divorce papers
- custody orders
- legal protection or restraining orders
- health insurance papers and medical cards
- edical records for all family members
- children's school records
- financial records
- work permits
- immigration papers
Money to get by
- credit cards
- ATM card
- checkbook and bankbook (with deposit slips)
- safety deposit box or post office box
A way to communicate
- cell phone
- address book
- at least 1 month's supply for all medicines you and your children are taking, as well as a copy of the prescriptions
A way to get by
- jewelry or small objects you can sell, if you run out of money or stop having access to your accounts
Things to help you cope
- pictures, family heir-looms, keepsakes,
- children’s small toys or books
What Can Be Done During An Attack?
Defend and protect yourself. Call for help. Scream loudly and continuously. Don’t just yell “help”, but instead yell “call the police!” Escape if you can.
Call 911. Tell the operator what the emergency is, where it is, who you are, and give your phone number. Stay on the line until the operator has all necessary information. The operator will dispatch uniformed police officers to your location so that they can help you.
Domestic violence and sexual assault are not just a "private family matter.” They are crimes. You must seek help from law enforcement to protect you from further abuse.
What Should I Do After An Attack?
If you are injured, seek medical attention. Go to a nearby hospital, doctor’s office, or clinic. You will need to know the number of your medical insurance policy if you have one. Most emergency rooms will provide medical treatment even if you do not have financial resources. If your injuries are life threatening, call an ambulance.
Once you get to the hospital, tell the nurse and doctor the name of the person that injured you. Be sure the nurse writes this in your medical chart. Medical records may be used in court to prove your case. They will help your lawyer get the best settlement in a divorce or they will help you get court protection if you don’t want a divorce. If your abuser takes you to the hospital, ask to speak to the nurse or Doctor alone in order to tell them what actually happened.
Save evidence. Evidence includes copies of medical records, police reports, dated photographs of injuries or damage to the house, torn or bloody clothing, any weapons used, and statements from witnesses who heard or saw the attack. Photographs are very important, in many counties the police and sheriff will take pictures of the evidence as well. They show the injury in a way that words and reports can not do. They show the pain that was inflicted. It is also important to save any threatening messages on voicemail or answering machines. It is wise to write down what happened soon after the attack. Include as many details as you can recall, such as time, location, witnesses, and what was said and done by all persons involved.
You can call the 24-hour, statewide, toll-free Oklahoma Safeline (Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Hotline) at 1-800-522-7233 and talk to a domestic violence advocate about the choices and options you have to resolve your crisis on a more permanent basis.
Remember, most abusers become more violent over time. Domestic Abuse tend to become more severe and more frequent. Most abusers promise to stop the violence, but they will not stop without skilled intervention. Even though you may be afraid, take action NOW. Your safety and the safety of your children may depend on having a plan of action. Violence does not stop until there are negative consequences for the abuser.
Safety Tips for Dealing with an Abuser
Ø Your abuser may have patterns of abuse. Know how violent your abuser tends to get. Know any signs that show when they about to become violent. Know how dangerous a situation may be for you and your children.
Ø If it looks like violence may happen, try to leave if you can.
Ø Know things that your abuser can use as a weapon. The abuser may use sharp or heavy objects to hurt you.
Ø Know where guns, knives, and other weapons are. If you can, lock them up or make them as hard to get to as you can.
Ø Figure out "safe places" in your home - places where there aren't weapons. If it looks like your abuser is about to hurt you, try to get to a safe place. Stay out of the kitchen, garage, or workshop. Try to avoid rooms with tile or hardwood floors.
Ø Don't run to where the children are. Your abuser may hurt them too.
Ø If there's no way to escape violence, make yourself a small target. Dive into a corner and curl up into a ball. Protect your face and put your arms around each side of your head, wrapping your fingers together.
Ø If you can, always have a phone you can get to. Know the numbers to call for help. Know where the nearest pay phone is. Know your local battered women's shelter number. Don't be afraid to call the police or 911.
Ø If you need help in a public place, yell "FIRE". People respond more quickly to someone yelling "fire" than to any other cry for help.
Ø Let friends and neighbors you trust know what is going on. Make a plan with them for when you need help. Have a signal, like flashing the lights on and off or hanging something out the window, to tell them you need help.
Ø Teach your children how to get help. Tell them not to get involved if your abuser is hurting you. Plan a code word to let them know that they should get help or leave the house.
Ø Practice how to get out of your house safely. Practice with your children as well.
Ø Plan for what you will do if your children tell your partner about your plan or if your partner finds out about your plan some other way.
Ø Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and having a full tank of gas. Keep the driver's door unlocked and others locked so that you are prepared for a quick escape.
Ø Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry. Your abuser could use these things to strangle you.
Ø Think of several reasons for leaving the house at different times of the day or night that he'll believe.
Ø Call a domestic violence hotline from time to time to talk about your options and to talk to someone who understands you.
Ø Tell your children that violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent. Tell them that the violence isn't their fault or your fault. Tell them that when anyone is being violent, it is important to keep safe.