Below are some prompts for thinking about safety planning. Safety plans can help you to have some control over the situation. If you are not ready to leave yet you can still focus on safety for you and your children and have a strategy to get out in a hurry if you need to. Getting the abuser out of the house or moving to another place does not always stop the violence. The abuser may try to keep power and control over you by whatever means possible. For this reason on-going safety in the period after leaving needs to be considered.
It is important to keep a cell phone with you if possible (even if there is no money on it, you can use it to dial 111 or, if it isn’t an emergency, 0800 Refuge). Also talk to a friend or family member you trust if possible, as they may be able to support with your safety plan.
Plan for leaving
If it’s not safe to write the plan down or get some things together, you could think through some of these things and prepare in your mind for how you might get out.
- Get your own keys for the house and car, and your own bank account (be aware money in joint accounts can be withdrawn without both signatures).
- Help your children understand what is going on, they don’t need to know the details but they do need to feel reassured.
- Set some money aside in a safe place.
- Make arrangements for pets, can a friend/family member take your pets (if not we can try to arrange with the SPCA or other).
What will you need to pack in advance?
- Phone numbers / phone card
- Baby’s bottle / formula /favourite toys
- Spare clothing
- Family heirlooms / photos / jewellery
- Financial documents / ATM card / money / Driver’s license / Protection Order / birth certificates / passports.
Where is a safe place for you to go? (Where to go straight away and a place to stay a while.)
- Neighbours / friends
- Family / whanau
- Women’s Refuge
- Police Station
Who can you ring? (On a landline dial another number afterwards so the redial button does not identify a safety call. If your partner has access to your cell phone delete calls/messages if needed.)
- Police 111
- Neighbours / friends / support people
- Family / whanau
- Women’s Refuge
But if the time is right just leave – it doesn’t matter if you haven’t made a plan or haven’t got your things with you.
Safety after separation
- Talk to Women’s Refuge or a lawyer about a protection order, and child contact arrangements.
- If you think it is safe to do so, talk to neighbours, tell them your safety is at risk and ask them to watch out and ring the police if they hear anything.
- Make the area around your home safer: change locks, get outside lights, repair damaged windows, trim under bushes and trees so there are not places someone can hide.
- If you have relocated and want your address to remain confidential, have your new address and phone number removed from public access: confidential phone number, unpublished electoral roll, and tell places like your employer, schools, doctor etc that you want your details kept confidential.
- You can keep your number hidden when making a call: if dialling from Telecom or Vodafone dial 0197 before the phone number, if dialling from Telstra Clear dial *32 before the phone number.
Experiencing abuse can be exhausting, traumatic and emotionally draining; working to make changes in your life can require much courage and emotional energy. To support yourself in hard emotional times here are some suggestions you could try:
- Join support groups of other women to gain support and build relationships with other people.
- Take time to yourself to read, meditate, play music, etc.
- Spend time with people who make you feel good and provide support.
- Prioritise sleep and nutritional needs.
- Try to make the effort to take part in social activities; e.g. movie, dinner, exercise.
- Keep a personal journal to write about your feelings, especially when feeling low or vulnerable. Keep it in a safe place or destroy it.
- Take time to prepare yourself emotionally before stressful situations such as talking with your partner, meeting with lawyers, court hearings, etc.
- One step at a time, try not to overbook yourself – limit yourself to one appointment per day to reduce stress.
- Be creative and do whatever makes you feel good.
- Write something positive about yourself everyday; your own personal affirmation.
- Try relaxation techniques such as breathing or meditation.
- Start an exercise programme; even a small amount of exercise can increase energy and reduce stress levels.
- It is ok to feel angry but find positive and constructive ways to express your anger.
- Remember that you are the most important person to take care of right now.
- Encourage yourself to ask for support if you need it, if you reach out for support and don’t get the response you need, keep trying and don’t give up.