Protecting Myself - WCA - Physical Violence Omaha
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WARNING: Abusers try to control their victim’s lives. When abusers feel a loss of control – like when victims try to leave them – the abuse often worsens. Take special care when you leave and keep being careful even after you have left.

Safety Planning:

Safety planning is just what it sounds like: creating a plan to keep yourself and any children and/or pets safe while living in an environment of domestic violence and abuse, preparing to leave, leaving, and after leaving an abuser. A survivor’s safety and well-being is most at risk during episodes of violence, and when attempting to leave an abuser. It’s especially important to prepare ahead of time to be as protected as possible. Below are some basic guidelines for safety planning. It is an integral part of providing services to victims of domestic violence and is often one of the first services provided by an advocate.

Protection Order

Survivors of domestic violence can request a protection order, or restraining order, to protect themselves from further abuse. These orders cannot stop an abuser from stalking or hurting a victim, but they do permit the victim to call the police and have the abuser arrested if they break the order. To request a protection order, or for more information, call the WCA.

What to think about and how to stay safe

  • Having important phone numbers nearby for you and your children, including:
    • Police
    • Hotlines
    • Friends and/or family
    • Local shelter
  • Trusted friends or neighbors you could tell about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear a disturbance. If you have children, teach them how to dial 911 and make up a code word you can use when you need help.
  • How to get out of your home safely, and practice the best ways to get out.
  • Safer rooms in your home where there are exits and no viable weapons. If you feel abuse is going to happen, try to get your abuser to one of the safer places.
  • Any weapons in the house. Think about ways you could get them out of the house.
  • Even if you do not plan to leave, think of where you could go and how you might leave. Try doing things that naturally get you out of the house – taking out the trash, walking the dog or going to the store. Put together a bag of things you use every day and hide it where it is easy for you to grab.
  • Going over your safety plan often.
  • Four places you could go if you leave your home.
  • People who might help you if you left. Think of people who would keep a bag for you, lend you money or make plans for your pets.
  • Keeping change for phone calls or getting a cell phone.
  • Opening a bank account and/or credit card in your name.
  • How you might leave without making your abuser suspicious. Try doing things that get you out of the house – taking out the trash, walking the dog or going to the store. Once you’ve figured out the best method, practice leaving.
  • How you could safely take your children and/or pets with you. There are times when taking your loved ones with you may put all of your lives in danger.
  • Putting together a bag of things you use every day. Hide it in a place that is easy for you to grab.

If you cannot take the following items with you, leave them in the possession of a trusted family member or friend.

  • Children (if it is safe)
  • Money
  • Keys to car, house and/or work
  • Extra clothes
  • Medicine
  • Important papers for you and your children
  • Birth certificates
  • Social security cards
  • School and medical records
  • Bankbooks and/or credit cards
  • Driver’s license
  • Car registration
  • Welfare identification
  • Passports, green cards and/or work permits
  • Lease/rental agreement
  • Mortgage payment book and/or unpaid bills
  • Insurance papers
  • PPO, divorce papers and/or custody orders
  • Address book
  • Pictures, jewelry and/or other sentimental items
  • Items for your children (toys, blankets, etc.)
  • Your safety – you still need to.
  • Getting a cell phone. HAVEN may be able to provide you with a cell phone that is programmed to only call 911. These phones are for when you need to call the police and cannot get to any other phone.
  • Getting a PPO from the court. Keep a copy with you at all times, and give a copy to the following people:
    • Police
    • Your children’s schools and caretakers
    • Your employer or school
  • Changing the locks, and installing stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and outside lights.
  • Telling friends and neighbors your abuser no longer lives with you, and asking them to call the police if they see your abuser near your home or children.
  • Telling people who care for your children who is allowed to pick them up and when. If you have a PPO protecting your children, give their teachers and babysitters a copy of it.
  • Telling someone at work about what has happened, and asking that person to screen your calls. If you have a PPO that includes where you work, consider giving your boss a copy of it, along with a picture of the abuser. Think about and practice a safety plan for your workplace, including going to and from work.
  • Not using the same stores or businesses that you did when you were with your abuser.
  • Someone you can call if you feel down. Call that person if you are thinking about going to a support group or workshop.
  • Safe way to speak with your abuser if you must.
  • Going over your safety plan often.
  • Park your car in a busy public place. Avoid parking garages or, if you have to use them, get someone to walk you to your car.
  • If you see your abuser, get into a busy public area as soon as possible.
  • If you have separated from your abuser, ask your boss if you can have calls and visitors screened through reception. If you work in a public space, such as a shopping center, talk to the security staff and show them your abuser’s photo.
  • If you have separated from your abuser, try to change your routines regularly. When possible, take different routes to work, leave home or work at different hours, and shop in different places or online.
  • Tell your boss or security staff of any protection orders that prevent your abuser from coming near your work. Keep a copy of your protection order at work or in your bag.
  • Use a public computer (library, community center, etc.) or a friend’s computer that your abuser can’t access.
  • Change or delete your Facebook account and your children’s accounts, or review your privacy settings to restrict access. People may accidentally give away details of where you are living or where you will be.
  • Change your email account. Make it hard to trace – don’t use your name or birth year in the account name.
  • Have a computer technician check your computer for spyware or keystroke logging programs.