- Plan an escape route from every room in your home
- Think of a safe area in your home to go if an argument happens – stay away from rooms with no exits and hard surfaces where there are objects which can be used as weapons i.e. bathroom, kitchen. If an argument happens, try to move to one of the safe areas.
- Think about and make a list of safe people to contact, if possible memorise all important phone numbers.
- Speak to a trusted neighbour about your situation who will call the police if they hear a disturbance.
- Develop a ‘code word’ or ‘sign’ so that family and friends know when to call for help.
- Keep money / change with you at all times – know where the nearest working phone box is.
- Think about what you will say to your partner if they become violent. Use your judgement of the abuser to protect you and your children. You are in no way colluding with the abuser if you give them what they want in order to protect you and your children. Call the police as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Know where to go and what to do in an emergency and have an alternative.
- Teach your children what to do in an emergency – tell them to call 999 and be able to give the address but not to get involved – they should never use a phone in front of the abuser as this may endanger them.
- Call 999 in the event of an emergency – think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond straight away.
If you are planning to leave you may not feel able to leave immediately, but you can plan and be prepared for when an emergency does arise, and you need to leave your home. Leaving is often the most dangerous time so by making a plan before leaving you can increase your safety. You can:
- Keep a record of the violent and controlling behaviour to support any future action you may take – civil or criminal.
- Log incidents with the police, even if you do not want to press charges at present (numbers for borough CSUs or a link to the met website for the information).
- Seek legal advice
- Have any bruises or injuries recorded by a doctor for future use in any legal proceedings, rehousing procedures etc. You can also take a picture using a camera or your mobile phone.
- Have a packed bag ready and keep it in a secret, but accessible place so you can leave quickly.
- Keep important documents in a safe place, either hidden in your home at with friends / family (e.g. marriage / birth certificates, national insurance card, passport, driving licence etc.) including items of sentimental value, so that they can be grabbed in a hurry.
- Only tell people you trust where you will be. Lie if you have to – this will protect you and them.
The following items will be useful but are not essential for you to take if you decide that you want to leave in a hurry. Remember FCWA can always help you to get these items later and with police support:
- ID – passports, birth / marriage certificate, NI number, driving licence etc.
- Money – bank / credit cards.
- Medical – prescribed medicines, prescriptions, medical cards, children’s medical records.
- Legal – injunctions, divorce papers, mortgage documents, tenancy agreement.
- Special Items: photos, child’s favourite toy, house and car keys.
- Always try to take your children with you or make arrangements to leave them with someone safe.
Remember: If the last number you called was a refuge, taxi or the place you are going to stay, dial another number – for example, the Speaking Clock (dial 123).
Monitoring, harassing and stalking behaviours have always been part of domestic abuse. Modern technology has provided new, simpler means to enable this behaviour to continue. Mobile phones, social media platforms, and apps are all developing so quickly that it can often feel difficult to know how to keep yourself safe online. Here are a few ideas that can help you:
- Don’t answer calls from withheld numbers
- Block or change numbers (only when it is safe to do so)
- Turn off location services such as ‘find my iPhone’ on smart phones
- Ensure that location services are also not activated on apps – for example Facebook attaches a location to posts.
- Delete and/or block your abusive partner on social media sites and don’t add anyone unknown.
- Ensure your social media sites are managed safely; for example, changing your Facebook settings so you can’t be found by using the search function/setting up new accounts which you only give to safe friends or family.
- Cover cameras on tablets/computers/phones in case perpetrators are able to hack them.
- If you’ve experienced abuse through your phones/tablets the safest option is to get a new device.
- If you can’t afford a new device you can restore the device to factory settings. Going in store to your provider can help you with this to check it’s done correctly.
- Get screenshots to keep a log of any threats occurring through social media where safe to do so.
Unfortunately, domestic violence and abuse may not end even when the relationship has ended. In order to increase your safety, you can consider:
- Informing trusted friends or relatives that you are no longer in the relationship and they should call the police if they see your former partner near or trying to gain access to your home.
- Changing locks on your doors and make sure that all windows and doors are as secure as possible.
- Having additional security installed - sensor security lighting/ burglar alarm.
- Changing the routes you use to take your children to school.
- Informing people who look after your children e.g. teachers, childminders etc. which people have permission to collect them. If you have an injunction, give a copy to the school.
- Changing your phone number and when at work ask people to screen your calls.
- Changing your routines i.e. shop in different place/supermarket at different times and take a different route home etc.