Safety Planning

Safety planning

Safety planning is about building your own armoury of measures you can employ to make yourself safer. It is more than likely you will know when a partner or family member are increasingly likely to use violence on you and it is also likely that you already employ some of your own  measures to try and reduce your risk of being hurt. 

What follows is a list of measures you may not have thought of as effective ways to reduce or avoid being harmed in the future. These are all considerations that will be suggested by the police and advice lines as measures to try and reduce harm from a perpetrator of violence, power and control.

The measures may not all be applicable, consider them a ‘pic n mix’ of choices that you can dip in any out of as you see fit, or alternately make long term changes to increase your own safety. The list itself contains measures ranging from fairly common sense suggestions through to measures that will need changes in lifestyle and living. If you are considering your own safety planning, and have not done so yet, please consider your first step as to call the police. If you do not want to speak to the police please call one of the helplines in this App. Free advice costs nothing.

For further advice on Domestic Violence, definitions and safety planning, the Southall Black sisters publish comprehensive advice accessible at the following address:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/three-steps-to-escaping-domestic-violence

Safety at home:

  • Dial 999 in an emergency and ask for the police
  • Ensure windows and doors are secure
  •  Identify a safe room within the house that you or your children can go to and are able to move furniture in the room to barricade the door. Consider keeping a phone in the room to call 999. Do not go to the kitchen.
  • If you can – leave the house, go to a neighbour or a friend. Practice ways of getting out of the house in advance and where you could go. If you cannot directly leave, consider things that can get you out such as taking out the rubbish.
  •  Any weapons in the house – try and remove them discretely.
  • Consider getting CCTV or an alarm and outside security lights.
  • Speak to your friends, neighbours, family or other person whom you can trust. Tell them about your situation and suggest a ‘code word’ you can shout or use so they know to call the police on your behalf to attend. If you are in the street during an incident then stay public, seek help in a shop or local police station.
  • Practice and refine your safety plan.
  • If you have left your partner and are worried they may cause a fire at your address consider buying smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Call your local fire brigade who can fire proof your letter box.

 

Phones:

  • Consider changing your numbers (mobile and landline)
  • Check with your provider whether your phone can block numbers
  • Keep your phone charged and in a pocket rather than your bag
  • If you suspect you are being stalked – disable any smart apps that may track your location and keep a log of events.
  • When calling the police state your location before anything else in case you get cut off.
  • Check your phone for any spyware applications that may have been downloaded. If you are unsure – change your phone or seek professional advice.

Child Contact:

  • Ensure child drop offs and pickups are in public places – use a third party if possible.
  • Explain your situation to your child’s school and ensure they have copies of any court orders/ picture of perpetrators.
  • Seek legal advice about long term arrangements and court orders.

Work:

  • Confide in your employer and explain your situation.
  • Ask to park on work premises
  • Ask to be accompanied to your car.
  • Change times of work if possible to vary your work pattern.
  • Ask your employer to contact the police if you fail to attend work.
  • Ask your employer to screen any calls made directly to you.

Online security:

Check out this internet address for full advice: http://nssadvice.org/storage/Internet%20Safety%20for%20Victims%20of%20Violence.pdf

  • Change your passwords – do not use passwords that can be guessed by any other person – use mixture of capital letters, numbers and symbols. Choose security questions only You will know the answers to.
  • Check your Facebook security settings and screen any ‘friends’ who may have perpetrator on their account to prevent unintended notifications through your own friends. Do not accept any friend requests who may be acting on behalf of perpetrator. Avoid posting any personal information, photos or information that can be used to find you. 
  • Avoid twitter or other social media which tag your location and avoid blogging any information about your locations, activities or emotions.
  • Change your e mail address
  • Check your employers are not sharing information about you on their website. Ensure published conferences do not contain your details on attendee lists, for example. This is also applicable to schools, clubs or other organisations that you belong to who openly publish details of its members.
  • Check any photo’s you publish to ensure they do not give away any valuable information about your location or activities. Some phones and cameras may also record a geo location of where they are taken.
  • Close all current internet shopping accounts and open new ones using new e mail and new passwords. Any accounts known to the perpetrator can be used to access user name, credit details and private information if new details are added to an existing account.

Leaving an abusive partner / family member:

Put together a ‘GO’ bag in preparation for leaving. Try and leave it with a confident or neighbour and try and take the following items:

  • Money (try and put some in the bag as often as possible)
  • Keys to house/ car/ work
  • New mobile phone
  • Medicine
  • Extra clothes
  • Any important paperwork about you and your children
  • Passports/ birth certificates/ medical records/ school records/ court orders.
  • Bank book/ credit cards (try and open a new account in advance the perpetrator is unaware of)
  • Driving licence/ insurance/ registration
  • Address book
  • Personal items that mean a lot to you such as jewellery and pictures.
  • Items for your children (toys/ clothes/ blankets)

This list is not exclusive. The most important message is to take any item which you will need and any item which can be used by a perpetrator to force your return and/or exercise control over you. 

Ideally, plan in advance for somewhere you can go where you cannot be located. Let only those people who can be trusted not to release you location know where you are. If you cannot plan in advance for somewhere to go, that is ok. Then just call a domestic violence helpline or the police and they will look after you. The most important thing is for you and your children to be safe and aware from the risk of more hurt.

 

After leaving:

  • Review your safety plan.
  • If you haven’t changed your phone, then consider changing it and only  give the number to those whom you can trust not to pass it on to others.
  • Obtain legal advice about protection orders or residency orders for the children. You may be likely to be eligible for access to court orders without cost and in some cases the form completion will be completed on your behalf.
  • Tell your friends/ employer/ school what has happened. Prescribe names of persons able to collect your children.
  • If you require regular prescriptions, change your pharmacy or doctor.
  • Consider changing your vehicle, particularly if it is noticeable such as being a particular colour or adorned with stickers/ modifications that make it stand apart from others.
  • Consider changes to routines such as shopping days/ shops / bars /leisure activities that you regularly frequent.

 **Change vehicle/ house insurance and utilities into your own name to prevent mistaken or deliberate cancelling of policies by ex partner. 

Leaving an abusive partner or family member can be the most difficult decision to make. There will be a very strong ‘material’ argument for not leaving such as financial, social and personal property, indeed the not knowing of what happens next. Be assured, these will not last long, yes it can be daunting, but replaced by a lifetime where an abuser has been left behind - replaced by a future shaped by you, on your terms. Possessions can be replaced, friendships will be made and homes can be rebuilt. 

Your abuser may try and use these ‘material’ items to exert power over you to return, they may make promises to change, or they may make threats to you. Therefore it is very important to get professional help to leave and maintain this support, having left. There may be an urge for a while to return back to the relationship on the promise of change from an abuser, but such changes will almost certainly be short lived before returning back to the cycle of power and control.

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