Safety Plan: Preparing to Leave a Violent Relationship

Topic Overview

A violent relationship puts you and your children at risk for injury and even death. Making a plan will help provide for your safety and your children's safety. Know that leaving an abusive relationship can be the most dangerous time for you.

Contact a local advocacy group for support, information, and advice on how to stay safe. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), or see the website at www.ndvh.org for the nearest advocacy program. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in English, Spanish, and other languages.

Also, see the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website at www.ncadv.org/resources/state.htm to find the program nearest to you that offers shelter and legal support.

Steps to take when preparing to leave

  • Be aware that cell phones can contain GPS tracking devices. If possible, plan to get a new phone and new service plan when you leave. Don't take your original phone with you when you leave.
  • Try to set aside money, even in small amounts. Start your own savings or checking account. Use the address of a trusted friend or family member when setting up the account.
  • Make a list of people you can call in an emergency and places you can go. Memorize important numbers. Teach your children how to call for help in an emergency.
  • Have a packed bag ready with items to take when you leave. Keep it hidden in your home, or leave the bag with friends or family or at work if possible.
  • If you don't have a cell phone, keep change with you at all times for phone calls. Remember that any long-distance calls or calls you have made on a telephone card before you leave can show up on statements and point your abuser in your direction.
  • At work, tell your supervisor and the human resources manager about your situation. Discuss scheduling options and other safety precautions to provide for your well-being. Give a recent photo of the abuser to your human resources manager, and if possible, ask to prohibit the abuser's access to your workplace.

You can ask a police officer to be present at your home when you leave or when you need to collect clothing or property from your home.

Related Information

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer William H. Blahd, Jr., MD, FACEP - Emergency Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Brigid McCaw, MD, MS, MPH, FACP - Family Violence Prevention
Specialist Medical Reviewer H. Michael O'Connor, MD - Emergency Medicine
Last Revised October 13, 2011

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