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“A safety plan is each battered victims’ unique strategy to
reduce the risks generated by her partner’s violence and
control....This is only a very brief summary....A battered
victim faces one set of risks if she stays in the relationship
and another set of risks if she leaves....The safety plans
are not written in stone. It will continually be adjusted.” 1
All battered victims are at the highest risk when they are
leaving the batterer. BE CAREFUL!
1. “Safety Planning” by Attorney Jill Davies of Greater Hartford Legal Assistance 1997
If your abuser isn't always present, and the abuser does not suspect anything, there are several steps you can take to prepare for your escape.
1. Don't let your abuser know of your plans to escape. Be careful not to leave any clues regarding your whereabouts. Don’t make any long distance calls since the numbers will show up on the bill after you leave and the batterer may be able to track you through them. If anyone calls you back, you need to tell them that you don’t want them to speak to the batterer. You are better off not giving out your phone number to professionals who may not realize your danger. Also the batterer could use the telephone *69 to find out who it was that called. If the abuser has “caller ID” special precautions need to be taken.
2. Call 411 and tell them you are a battered victim. They will give you phone numbers of battered victims’ shelters. If you have children and are unable to access a battered victim’s shelter, go to the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) and ask them for help obtaining a shelter. If those shelters are full, the DTA will place you in an emergency hotel. If you do not have children and have difficulty getting into a battered victim’s shelter, you may go temporarily to a homeless shelter
3. Think of a friend who is able to keep a secret and will not tell the batterer. Give that friend important things like: extra car keys; copies of important documents; extra medicines; credit cards; green cards; car registration; passports; custody papers; secret PO Box keys; and anything else that can be used to increase your independence. Make sure the credit cards will not be billed and mailed to the abuser’s address because the abuser could find a trail to you through the bill. Also pack a couple of bags of other things that you think will be helpful until you can have time to go back to your home with a police escort.
4. Develop code words to be used with the children if you need them...to call the police or run to a neighbor’s house.
5. If you have time, practice getting your body stronger without the abuser knowing about it. by filling yourself with positive life affirming ideas and thoughts.
6. You know the batterer better than anyone. Therefore, you know when your escape will be most likely to succeed. No matter what, do not tell the batterer and do not allow the batterer to find this hand book or see this web site because it will be a lot harder the next time you are ready to leave. If you have disabilities, arrangements to pick you up can often be made if you can’t meet at the designated location to escape. Never give up! Identification for yourself and your children is especially important, such as birth certificates, social security card, marriage certificate, old restraining orders, voter registration or driver's license. Take any financial records, such as rent receipts, car title, etc. Don't let your abuser know you're collecting them. It is best to collect important documents when the abuser isn't in the home. Hide them in a safe place. Storage facilities are reasonably priced and often used to keep things hidden when abused victims are in a transitional state of living. Again, make sure the bill does not go the home of the abuser. Have it sent to your secret PO Box or to a friends home.
8. Take some sturdy, everyday clothing for you and your children. Don't take too much. You can get the rest later. Pack extra, medications, and an extra set of keys to the house and car. You may want to pack in advance and store the bag at a friend's house.
9. Take something special or meaningful for your child, such as a doll, toy or book. There are plenty of new toys to get when you are safe and living your new life.
10. Leave the abuser a note that says you went to a doctor's appointment or anywhere that won't arouse suspicion. This will give you the biggest head start possible.
11. Don’t forget, if you have to Telephone anyone that knows your abuser, be careful that your location cannot be traced through your GPS or remote phone, caller ID, *69 *57 or *59. NEVER E-Mail. Or delete all “sent” messages from the “out box” of sent mail in your computer. Delete all files you dragged into the waste basket. COVER ALL YOUR TRACKS BECAUSE YOU ARE AT THE HIGHEST RISK WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO LEAVE.
If you have a Personal Care Attendant
If this PCA isn't the abuser, you can ask the PCA for help. Have the PCA call the police or one of the accessible agencies in the
resource list when they are away from the abuser. However, if the abuser pays for your personal care attendant or if the abuser is
friendly with the PCA don’t tell the PCA anything.
* Medical visits provide good opportunities for escape. If you don't visit a doctor regularly, you may have to pretend to be sick in order to get to a hospital. If the abuser accompanies you to the hospital or doctor's visit and won't leave you alone, ask the doctor to have him leave the room. Inform the doctor in privacy that you are being abused and need to find a safe shelter.
*Many doctors will contact a hospital social worker, which will help you to find a shelter and provide a cab voucher for transportation. You or the doctor can also call FINEX House directly. Once you have decided to escape from an abusive situation, either by planning your escape or by calling the police to intervene during an abusive episode, it is important to find safe shelter for yourself and your
*In Massachusetts, there is a network of emergency shelters and safe homes for battered victims and their children. The average
length of stay in a shelter is six to eight weeks. Your address remains anonymous and shelter staff, often formerly battered victims, assist you and your children to recover from the trauma you'e experienced. Battered victims’ shelters provide counseling, crisis intervention, trauma support, childcare, legal advocacy, and assistance with locating permanent housing, employment and/or benefits. If you need more time to put your life in order, you can be referred to a transitional living program from an emergency shelter or safe home. Transitional living programs are group residences where formerly battered victims and their children can reside for up to one year.
COVER ALL YOUR TRACKS BECAUSE YOU ARE AT THE HIGHEST RISK WHEN YOU ARE TRYING TO LEAVE.
1.Divorce Basics for Pro Bono Attorneys Volunteer Lawyers Project October 1997 “Identifying the Assaultive Husband in Court: You be the Judge” d Adams Co-Founder of Emerge (Batterers program)