Planning ahead - making a Safety Plan
If you are experiencing any form of domestic violence you might consider making a Safety Plan. A Safety Plan can set out what you could do under certain circumstances to help reduce the risk of emotional or physical injury to yourself (and your children). Your Safety Plan can include strategies for reducing risk to yourself while living with your partner or it may outline how you could get away. You can make a Safety Plan on your own or speak with a trusted friend, a counsellor or the Domestic Violence Line (1800 65 64 63).
If you write your Safety Plan down ensure you hide it so that your partner can’t find it. You could leave it at a friend or family member’s house or with a support service. You might just think about and memorise the details of your plan.
When developing your Safety Plan think about the times your partner is most likely to be violent or abusive and how s/he acts during these times so you can develop strategies that best suit your needs.
If you are experiencing domestic violence you should constantly remind yourself that it’s not your fault and the abuse isn’t your responsibility. You do not deserve to be abused.
Living with an abusive partner
If you are living with an abusive partner there are a number of things you can
try to reduce the risk of injury to yourself (and your children):
- Plan and practice (with your children) how you might escape from the house.
- Where possible, keep weapons and knives locked up or inaccessible (eg removing knife-blocks from kitchen benches).
- Let trusted friends, family or neighbours know about the abuse and let them know about your Safety Plan.
- Develop a code word or signal for friends, children or neighbours to call the police.
- Teach your children that their responsibility during an incident is to stay
safe - not to rescue you.
- Program the police or a friend’s number into the speed dial on your phone.
- Keep essential items like money, keys and identification somewhere that you can access them quickly.
- Plan where you will go and how you will get there in case you need to leave in a hurry.
- If possible keep a record of any physical abuse, eg photos, maybe at your doctors or a friends.
During a violent incident
- Try to stay away from, or leave, the kitchen or other rooms with potential weapons.
- Try to stay out of rooms without exits like the bathroom or closets.
- Press the emergency speed dial number or call out your code word.
- Depending upon your capacity to do so, defend yourself.
- Trust your instincts.
Planning to leave
- Hide a bag (maybe at family/friend’s place) with clothes, keys, and other essentials like medication etc.
- Put aside some money for travel expenses, accommodation, food etc.
- Collect all your forms of identification together, including Medicare card, drivers licence, Centrelink details, Tax File Number etc.
- Make copies of important documents eg car rego, title deeds, loan records, etc.
- Pack important possessions, eg photos and keepsakes.
- Take small sellable items like jewellery
- If you have children, take clothes, medical records, bottles and some of their favourite toys.
“I played along being as nice to him as I could. And saying nothing. I secretly did extra work and saved enough money to move out.” (Kent, 35).
After leaving the relationship
The period after leaving an abusive relationship can be especially dangerous. To reduce this risk you could:
- Apply for an AVO.
- If you have an AVO carry it with you at all times and give a copy of it and a photo of your partner to your children’s school and your workplace.
- Redirect your mail and/or get a post office box.
- Be careful who you give your new address or phone number to and get a ‘silent’ number.
- Where ever possible, change your regular patterns of movement eg travel to and from work by a different route, buy your groceries at a different shop, change the time and maybe location of regular appointments, maybe move your children to a new day care centre or school.
- Ensure where you are staying is as safe as possible, eg security doors, lockable windows, motion-sensitive external lights etc.
- Let important people know about your situation, eg your boss and other work colleagues or your children’s teachers, so they know not to give out your details or can screen your calls etc.
- Continue to seek support from the DV Line and other services during this time.
“One of the biggest head-fucks was being told that violence was part of his ‘culture’ and the fact that I had a problem with it meant I was racist.” (David, 27).