When you are planning to leave your abuser it is best to create a safety plan. Statistically you are at a higher risk of being hurt or worse during this time. Your abuser is usually feeling desperate, sensing that he is losing control of you. It is always advised to create a Safety Plan as a result. Think of it as a fire drill for your safety.Here are things to include in your safety plan.
1. OPEN YOUR OWN BANK ACCOUNT.
This bank account will help you gain your freedom. Do not rely on the fact that your abuser will leave any joint accounts alone once you leave. Many drain accounts quickly leaving you with nothing. If you can open the account at a seperate bank then anywhere he banks. If he suspects you are hiding money he will probably go to any banks you both use first to try and manipulate info out of the staff. If you do need to use the same branch then I suggest explaining to the teller that this is a safety issue or domestic violence issue (what ever you feel comfortable saying) and that no one, but you, can have access. Ask if you can put a password on the account. Also ask for e statements. This saves any paper statements being mailed to your home, where he may see it, prior to leaving.
2. SET UP A SECRET EMAIL ACCOUNT.
If you can, only access it from a public computer (like a library). Unless you are an expert it can be hard to erase all history off of a computor. If your abuser is tech savy he may be able to find your account or any abuse info sights you access.
3. LOOK UP YOUR LOCAL SHELTERS
This is just so you can be aware of where they are if you need them.
4. BE CAREFUL WHO YOU CONFIDE IN.
Even though he has treated you horribly there will probably be people in your life who will side with him. Especially his family, even if they have supported you in the past.
5. HAVE A SAFE PLACE TO RUN TO.
If you do have a trusted friend or family member ask them if you can go to their house in an emergency. If there is no one then that is when you will want to know where your local shelter is.
6. FIND A PLACE TO STORE IMPORTANT DOCUMENTS.
It is important to have copies or originals of your passports, birth certificates, copy of last years taxes, banking info, mortgage papers and any other loan info you have. If you have children make sure you have their birth certificates and passports as well.
Some suggestions, as to where to hide them, is you a locker or desk at work, with a trusted friend or a member of your family.
7. For many FINANCES CHANGE once they leave and usually not for the best. It is best to keep on top of any debts, especially any joint debts. Contact the creditors and let them know your situation. Many creditors will work with you once they know what is going on.
8. If you have credit cards or utilities in your name ask to have them PASSWORD PRORECTED. This is so your abuser cannot cut off your power or mess with your credit.
9. If you have a RESTRAINING ORDER OR PROTECTION ORDER against your abuser make sure your employer is aware and your neighbours. It can be hard to tell these people what is going on, but think of them as an extra set of eyes that are looking out for your safety. If you have children that are also protected under the order make sure you inform their school and daycare.
10. MAKE 911 YOUR BESTFRIEND.
Don’t ever be ashamed to call 911. They are there to protect you. If you have a cell carry it with you at all times just to be safe. If you do not have one you can usually purchase a prepaid cell fairly cheap. Also some organisations like shelters or even mobile carriers offer “call out only” safety cells for Domestic Violence Survivors.
11. DOCUMENT EVERYTHING. Keep a secret diary and note down every abusive episode. These notes can be very helpful as evidence if charges are laid.
12. IF YOU HAVE CHILDREN THERE ARE SOME THINGS YOU CAN DO FOR THEIR SAFETY. If they are old enough, teach them how to call 911. You can also find a safe place for them to hide in the house if they are scared. If you have a trusted neighbour talk to them about your child/ren being able to run there as well. You can also set up a code word with your child. Explain that if you ever use that word they are to run to this neighbours for safety and ask them to call 911.
Leaving your abuser is not easy. There will be some major hurdles but you deserve a better life. A life free from abuse. There are many community resources available to offer support along the way. Many are listed in your phonebook. It can be an overwhelming journey but if you take everything one step at a time you will get through this.
About Janet B.
I am a Domestic Violence Survivor, who battles PTSD. I share what I know to help others on their journey and to help educate society. I also Supervise a Mentoring Program at Verbal Abuse Journals (http://verbalabusejournals.com/). This program matches Survivors who have been out of the abusive relationship for a few years, and are now Mentors, with Survivors who are either still in an abusive relationship or have just left. A mentoring relationship is set up via email where the Mentor offers guidance and support to the Survivor for as long as they need. Please feel free to sign up for this free service at http://ow.ly/LSii8
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