These statistics are alarming to me. Domestic violence happens every minute to 20 people in the US. Domestic abuse happens to 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men in the US. When you hear those words, what do you think? I think about the women and children at the local shelter where I volunteer. They risked their lives to become safe. Safety planning is so important to bring more people to safety. What is safety planning?
Safety planning is coming up with a plan in order to escape violence. Whether you’re leaving your residence or the residence of the perpetrator, knowing how to get out with your life is critical. There are multiple factors and questions to consider for a basic plan.
- Where are the physical exits in your space? Can you escape out of a door, window, fire escape if necessary?
- Keep your purse, car keys in a specific location, so you can get out quickly.
- Keep important documents in a safe location – purse, car, or at a friend’s house where you can pick them up. Having up-to-date passport info, driver’s license, etc. are important in case you need to rent a car to get out of dodge.
- Make a list of what you need to escape: driver’s licence, social security card, birth certificates of you and your kids, green cards/work permit, school vaccination records, and medications. You can always find clothing later if you don’t have some ready to go.
- Tell a neighbor about what’s going on and to call the police if they hear something coming from your residence.
- Practice exit strategies with your children. They should know when you are planning to escape, how you’ll be getting out, and how to call 911 in case the violence escalates quickly.
- Before putting all of this into motion, open a savings or checking account in your name. I setup a credit card and back account in my name where all my correspondence went to work. It kept him from finding out what I was doing. InCharge Debt Solutions has some great resources for women escaping. While I’m not a fan of debt now, there are times when credit cards are necessary to use.
- Always do what’s best for your family and don’t wait if the situation is dire. Even if you don’t have the credit card setup, find a trusted friend or family member who can loan you money to get out. You can always repay them.
- Once you’re out of the relationship, find a good counselor to help you process and heal from this awful life event. Your local shelter also has support groups.
As you can see, it takes some planning to get out of a violent relationship. There are many types of safety plans depending on your current situation. Whether the abuse has been going on for a short or long time, there’s always help. You can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline, call your local shelter, and enlist the help of a friend. Please remember you’re never alone.