Everyone has the right to live without the fear of abuse. Violence can occur anywhere – at home, at work, or in public. Whether or not you feel you are able to leave an abuser, there are things you can do to make you and your family safer. You may not be able to predict or control your partner’s violence, but you can plan the most effective way to respond to it.
Create a personalized safety plan, which helps you identify steps to better protect you and your children at home, school, work, and in the community. Every situation is different and Avalon’s trained staff can help you develop a safety plan that addresses your needs and concerns. We will also provide resources to help protect a survivor’s personal identity and information to prevent fraud, identity theft, and using information to stalk and harass. If you would like help creating a personal safety plan, contact Avalon’s 24-hour Helpline at (757) 258-5051.
Steps you can take include:
- While in the house with the abuser, try to stay in a room with an exit and stay out of the kitchen, if a violent situation is happening.
- Devise a code word or phrase to use with family or friends, so that if you say that word or phrase, they know to call for help.
- Devise an age appropriate safety plan with your children that includes them knowing how to get help.
- Gather and store (in a safe space) important documents such as birth certificates, social security cards, credit cards, and personal IDs. If you cannot take the original, try to make a photocopy or take a photo on your cell phone.
- Try to store money in a separate account or an unknown location. This will give you more options if you need to leave.
- Vary your driving patterns. For example, don’t take the same route home or perhaps go to a different grocery store.
- Relocate, if possible, to put physical distance between you and your abuser.
- Get a phone with an unlisted number.
- Open a PO Box for mail to help prevent financial fraud. Protect your mail by shredding credit card offers and pieces with your personal information
- Guard your social security number - do not use it as a password or PIN, and request that agencies remove it from documents.
- Check your credit reports to look for fraud or suspicious activity.
- Report any suspected fraud to local law enforcement.
Victims of intimate partner violence are especially vulnerable at work because abusers know where to find them.
These are additional steps you can take to protect yourself while at work:
- Talk with someone you trust at your workplace regarding your situation.
- Notify security of your safety concerns. Provide a picture of the abuser and a copy of protective orders to security, supervisors, and reception area staff.
- If possible, have your calls screened, transfer harassing calls to security, and remove your name and number from automated phone directories.
- Review the safety of your parking arrangements. Have security escort you to your car, and obtain a parking space near the building entrance.
- Ask co-workers to call the police if the abuser threatens or harasses you at work.
- Ask for flexible or alternate hours and/or relocate your workspace to a more secure area.
- Find out about employee/family assistance benefits.
- Review the safety of your childcare arrangements. Give a picture of your abuser and a copy of the protective order to the daycare provider. If necessary, consider selecting a new daycare site.
- Request that all information be treated with confidentiality to provide for your safety and well-being.