How to Protect Yourself
If you are currently in an abusive relationship or are trying to leave an abusive relationship, there are resources you may use to help protect yourself from physical harm.
The Willow Domestic Violence Center advocates are available to assist survivors in accessing these resources. The Willow Domestic Violence Center advocates can meet with survivors one-on-one for information and support through this process.
Although these resources may help keep you safe, none are 100% foul-proof. A Willow Domestic Violence Center advocate can meet with you to help you explore what will work best for your situation.
Please call The Willow Domestic Violence Center at 843-3333 for more information on any of these resources.
The Willow Domestic Violence Center advocates are available to help you to make a personalized safety plan. Advocates can meet you for a one-on-one meeting in the community.
Please call 843-3333 to schedule a meeting or for more information.
SAFETY DURING AN EXPLOSIVE INCIDENT
- Go to an area that has an exit.
- Not a bathroom (near hard surfaces), kitchen (knives), or near weapons.
Stay in a room with a phone.
- Call 911, a friend or a neighbor, if possible. Inform them if there are weapons in the home.
- Know your escape route. Practice how to get out of your home safely. Visualize your escape route.
- Have a packed bag ready. Keep it hidden in a handy place in order to leave quickly, or leave the bag elsewhere if your abuser searches your home.
- Devise a code word or signal.
- Tell your children, grandchildren or neighbors so you can communicate to them that you need the police.
- Know where you're going.
- Plan where you will go if you have to leave home, even if you don't think you'll need to.
- Trust your judgment.
- Consider anything that you feel will keep you safe and give you time to figure out what to do next. Sometimes it is best to flee, sometimes to placate the abuser - anything that works to protect yourself and the children.
SAFETY WHEN PREPARING TO LEAVE
LEAVING CAN BE THE MOST DANGEROUS TIME!
- Have a safe place to stay.
- Make sure it is a place that can protect you and your children or grandchildren.
- Call The Willow Domestic Violence Center if you need a safe place to stay.
- Find someone you trust.
- Leave money, extra keys, copies of important documents and clothing with them in advance, so you can leave quickly, if necessary.
- Open a savings account. Put it in your name only, to increase your independence. Consider direct deposit from your paycheck or benefit check.
- Contact your county aging unit. If you are 60 or older, learn about eligibility for public and private benefits and services such as Social Security, pensions, housing, transportation and medical insurance.
- Review your safety plan.
- Study and check your plans as often as possible in order to know the safest way to leave your abuser.
- Concerns about immigration status: You may qualify under a law called the Violence Against Women Act. Talk to an immigration expert (not INS).
IF YOU NEED TO LEAVE, TAKE WITH YOU. . .
- Marriage and Driver's licenses
- Birth certificates - yours and family's
- Money, checkbooks, credit cards, ATM cards, mortgage payment book, car title
- Social Security card, work permit, green card, passport
- Divorce, custody papers and restraining order
- Insurance papers and medical records
- Lease, rental agreement and/or house deed
- School and health records
- Keys - house, car, office, friend's
- Medications, glasses, hearing aids, etc. needed by you and your family
- Personal items - address book, pictures, toys
SAFETY IN YOUR OWN HOME
If your abuser does not live with you...
- Upgrade your security system. Change the locks on doors and windows as soon as possible. Consider a security service, window bars, better lighting, smoke detectors and fire extinguishers.
- Have a safety plan
- Teach your children or grandchildren how to call the police or someone they can trust. Have a secret code word that you and your children agree on - to communicate trouble and for the people who are allowed to pick the children up.
- Change your phone number. Screen your calls if you have an answering machine or caller ID. Save all messages with threats or that violate any orders. Contact your local phone company about getting an unpublished number.
- Talk to neighbors and landlord. Inform them that your abuser no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see the abuser near your home.
- Get legal advice. Find a lawyer knowledgeable about domestic violence to explore custody, visitation and divorce provisions that protect you and the children. Discuss getting a restraining order as an option. Your abuser may be mandated to a batterers' intervention program. Talk with the program to find out more about potential risks to you while your abuser participates.
PROTECTING YOUR PHONE PRIVACY
- Blocking stops your number and name from being revealed on Caller ID display units and prevents anyone from hearing your number or calling you back with Talking Return Call.
- Line Blocking (ordered from your phone company) and Per Call Blocking (*67 / 1167) are the two FREE options that prevent your number and name from being revealed.
- Operators can assist you if your Blocked call is rejected and need to complete your call without revealing your number and name. When in doubt, call your local phone company.
- Calls to toll-free numbers (800, 888, 877), 900 numbers, and 911 cannot be Blocked
- Know the code: Dial *67 (touch-tone) or 1167 (rotary) before placing a call to control who gets your phone number and name.
If you are deaf or hearing impaired and use a TTY machine, clear the memory (history) of conversations you don't want saved.
Fax machines (and computers that fax) may display the fax number of the sender on the fax printout. Line blocking may not keep the sender's fax number from being revealed. Do not fax from a phone number you are trying to protect. If a fax is needed, businesses such as Kinko's may accept faxes for a small fee.
Cordless & Cellular Phones
It is easy to overhear conversations on most cordless phones by using scanners, other cordless phones, radios, etc. Do not use them for private/confidential information. 900 MHZ cordless phones are safe from most scanners. It is also possible for cellular/wireless phone conversations to be overheard.
To be safe do not use a cell phone for private conversations. If calling 911 with a cell phone, immediately give your detailed location since dispatchers have no way of knowing your address.
Answering machines are great for screening calls and increasing privacy, but don't put your name or phone number on the greeting. If someone chooses to leave a message on an answering machine, permission to be taped is assumed. Therefore, the tape may be used in court. If there is a harassing message or violation of a protection order on an answering machine, save that message tape if possible and do not tape over it with new messages. If you have a digital answering machine, call the police for instructions - they may come listen to the message to witness it.
Click here to read more about Internet Safety
IN AN EMERGENCY CALL 911.
You and your children deserve to be safe