Creating a Safer Environment
There are many things a women can do to increase her safety in her own environment. It may not be possible to do everything at once, but safety measures can be added step by step. Here are a few suggestions:
If you are living with your abusive partner/spouse:
- Get your Emergency Escape Plan in order and review it regularly.
- Create a telephone directory with numbers of local police, nearest shelter, assaulted women’s helpline, crisis help line, counsellors, family members, children’s friends, etc.
- Make arrangements with friends or family so you can stay with them if necessary.
- Try to predict the next likely violent episode and make plans for the children to be sent to friends, family, etc. Anticipate his “cycle”, maybe when bills are due, when drinking, on payday.
- Teach the children not to answer the door.
- Teach your children how to use the telephone to contact the police and the fire department.
- Create a code word with your children and/or friends so they can call for help.
- Teach your children how to make a collect call to you and to a special friend in the event that your partner takes the children.
- Plan your emergency exits, teach your children and know them well.
- Teach your children their own Safety Plan.
If you are not living with your abusive partner/spouse/caregiver:
- Change the lock on the doors and windows.
- Teach your children not to answer the door (you don’t need to answer the door all the time).
- Replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
- Install security systems including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system, etc.
- Install smoke detectors and fire extinguishers for each floor of your home.
- Install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to your home.
- Install a peep hole in the door.
- Purchase rope ladders to be used for escape from upper floors.
- Keep your restraining order near you at all times.
- Make sure the school, day care and police have a copy of all court orders including restraining orders, custody and access orders, as well as a picture of the abusive partner.
- Try to predict the next likely violent episode and make plans for the children to be sent to friends, family, etc. Anticipate his cycle, maybe when bills are due, when he is drinking, on payday.
- If you have call display on your phone, be careful how you use it.
In the Neighbourhood
Talk to your neighbours…
- Tell your neighbours that you would appreciate them calling the police if they hear a fight in your home.
- Tell people who take care of your children which people have permission to pick them up.
- Inform people that your partner no longer resides with you and they should call the police if he is observed near your residence. You may wish to give them a photo and description of him and his car.
- Ask your neighbours to look after your children in an emergency.
- Hide clothing and your Emergency Escape Plan items at a neighbours home.
- Use different grocery stores and shopping malls to conduct your business, and shop at hours that are different than when living with your abusive partner.
- Change your doctor, dentist and other professional services you used with your partner.
- Do not put your name in your apartment building Directory.
On the Internet
If an abuser has access to your email account, he or she may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. If you believe your account is secure, make sure you choose a password he or she will not be able to guess. If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing email messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse. Additionally, the messages may constitute a federal offense.
If an abuser knows how to read your computer’s history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), he or she may be able to see information you have viewed recently on the internet. You can clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser’s settings.
This link provides methods to clear your history (or cache) in current major browsers. This link will open in a new window: www.wikihow.com/Clear-Your-Browser’s-Cache
You do not have to remain alone. You have a right to support and help from others. Women’s House Serving Bruce and Grey is one place where you can receive the help you need.
- I am not to blame for being beaten or abused.
- I am not the cause of another’s violent behavior.
- I do not like it or want it.
- I do not have to take it.
- I am an important human being.
- I am a worthwhile woman.
- I deserve to be treated with respect.
- I do have power over my own life.
- I can use my power to take good care of myself.
- I can decide for myself what is best for me.
- I can make changes in my life if I want to.
- I am not alone. I can ask others for help.
- I am worth working for and changing for.
- I deserve to make my own life safer and happier.
The “Emergency Escape Plan” focuses on the things you can do in advance to be prepared in case you have to leave an abusive situation quickly. Below is a detailed list. It is provided here as well as a pdf that you can download and print out to take with you as you gather your items.
- The following is a list of items you should try to set aside and hide in a safe place, maybe the home of a friend or family member, your lawyer, or a safety deposit box.Take a photocopy of the following items and store in a safe place away from the originals. Hide the originals someplace else if you can.
- birth certificates
- immigration papers, for all family members
- school and vaccination records
- drivers license and registration
- medications, prescriptions, medical records for all family members
- Ontario Works or Ontario Disability Support identification
- work permits
- all cards you normally use (visa, phone, social insurance, banking cards)
- divorce papers, custody documentation, court orders, restraining orders, marriage certificate
- lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book
- bank books
- insurance papers
- picture of spouse/partner
- health cards for yourself and family members
Try to keep all the cards you normally use in your wallet.
- social insurance cards
- charge cards
- phone card
- banking cards
- health cards
- drug cards
Try to keep your wallet and purse handy and containing the following:
- car/house/office keys
- checkbook, bankbooks, statements
- drivers license, registration, insurance
- address/telephone book
- picture of spouse/partner
- emergency money in cash hidden away
- Keep the following items handy and set aside so you can grab them quickly:
- emergency suitcase with immediate needs
- special toys, comforts for children
- small saleable objects
- items of special sentimental value
- a list of other items you would like to take if you get a chance to come back to your home later
- Open a bank account in your own name and arrange that no statements or correspondence be mailed to you. Or you can arrange mail to be sent to a friend or family member.
- Save and set aside as much money as you can – out of groceries if necessary.
- Set aside $10-$15 for a cab fare in a place you can get to easily. Put quarters or a phone card in the same place.
- Plan your emergency exits.
- Plan and rehearse the steps you will take if you should need to leave quickly and learn them as well.
- Hide extra clothing, house keys, car key, money, etc., at a friends house.
- Keep an emergency suitcase packed or on hand and ready to pack quickly.
- Consider getting a safety deposit box at a bank which your partner does not use.
The police will escort you back to the home later to remove additional personal belongings, if it is arranged through the local division. Take the items listed above as well as anything else that is important to you or your children. When you leave, take the children if you can. If you try to get them later, the police cannot help you remove them from their other parent unless you have a valid court order.