If you’re in an abusive relationship, you need to plan ahead for your safety. You also need to plan ahead for the safety of your children.
Here are tips to help protect you and your children from future instances of abuse, if you are still living in the abusive situation:
- Create a personalized Emergency Escape Plan that lays out exactly what you would do and where you’d go if the abuse got violent.
- Create a similar plan for each of your children and review it with them one-on-one. Teach them how to use the telephone to call for help and what code word you would use to signal them to call. Make sure they know not to answer the door without you.
- Create a list of telephone numbers you might need in an emergency (e.g., police and our telephone number, 519- 752-4357). Always have change for a pay phone or a cell phone charged, and $10-$15 for taxi fare on-hand.
- Create a list of safe places you and your children could go in an emergency (e.g., the home of a family member or friend or our shelter).
- Store clothing, money, important documents (or copies), house and car keys, toys for the children, etc. at the home of a family member or friend.
- Keep all of your identification cards in your wallet or another safe place.
- Open your own bank account at a bank different from the one the abuser uses. Arrange for calls and bank statements to go to a friend or family member, not to your home.
- Save as much money as you can for emergency use – from your grocery budget if necessary.
- Be aware of any weapons, including kitchen knives, in the home.
- Ask trusted neighbours to call police if they hear fighting or screaming. If your partner no longer lives with you, ask them to call police if they see him in your neighbourhood or near your children.
If you are living apart from an abusive partner:
- Change the locks and install a peephole in the door as well as home security and outdoor lighting systems. Make sure smoke detectors are in place and working.
- Have your telephone number unpublished and dial *67 before dialing out to block your number.
- Consider getting a cell phone and have a cordless phone in the house.
- If you have a restraining order, keep it near you at all times.
- Make sure your school, police and daycare contacts have a copy of all court documents including restraining orders and custody/access orders. Tell your childcare providers who has permission to pick your children up.
- Tell someone you trust at work about your situation and ask for all calls to be screened.
- Stay away from places the abuser is likely to go (e.g., stores, banks, bars, etc.)
- Consider creating a safety plan for your pets.
- Change passwords to online accounts (e.g. email, banking, social media).
- Consider changing your phone number and email address.
- When sending sensitive emails or visiting websites such as this one, use a public computer if possible—for example, at a public library, school or internet café. Or, use a computer at the home of a trusted family member or friend.
- Keep a record of any emails, text messages, and voicemails left by the abuser.
- Have your computer and cell phone checked for GPS tracking apps and spyware.
- Do not post any identifying information on social media platforms.
- Report any threatening behaviour to the support team of the website, so the individual can be blocked or removed from the site.
- Remember information posted on the internet can still be accessible even after you delete it.
- There are many cell phone applications that can be used to enhance your safety – for example, Circle of 6, an app that allows you to connect with six individuals of your choice when you feel you are in an unsafe situation. The six will be notified via text message of your location, or you can choose to alert them by phone.
For more safety tips, see page 114 -115 in the Refrigerator Door Handbook.