During an Explosive Incident
- If an argument seems unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area that has access to an exit and not in a bathroom, kitchen, or anywhere near weapons.
- Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, or stairwells would be best.
- Have an extra set of keys and a packed bag ready. Keep them in an undisclosed but accessible place in order to leave quickly.
- Identify a neighbor you can tell about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
- Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police. Help your children memorize emergency numbers. Talk to them about how to stay safe during an explosive incident.
- Plan where you will immediately go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you will ever need to leave).
- Use your instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, consider giving your partner what he/ she wants. This may de-escalate the situation and give you time to plan for safe escape. You have every right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
- Always remember: YOU DON’T DESERVE TO BE HIT OR THREATENED!
Safety When Preparing to Leave
- Open a checking/savings account in your name to begin to establish your own identity. Rent a post office box to receive mail. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
- Create an emergency bag. This could include money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, and extra clothes. Store this with someone you trust so you can leave quickly. If possible, consider getting a cheap cell phone or a 911 phone (which Family Violence Project has available) to include in this bag.
- Consider reaching out to family or friends who may lend their support.
- Keep Family Violence Project’s 24-Hour Helpline number close at hand.
- Remember that leaving can be the most dangerous time. Review and refresh your safety plan as often as possible. Do not leave your notes where your partner can find them.
Emergency Bag Checklist:
- Driver’s license
- Car registration and title
- Birth certificates (for self and children)
- Lease, rental agreement, deed, etc.
- Bank books
- Checkbooks, credit cards
- Insurance papers
- Keys (house, car, office)
- Medical records / Medicaid cards
- Social Security cards (for self and children)
- TANF identification
- School records
- Divorce papers
- Address book
- Work permit
- Green card
- Nonperishable food items
Safety in Your Home
- Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure windows.
- Discuss a safety plan with your children for times when you are not with them.
- Inform your children’s school, daycare, etc., about who has permission to pick up your children.
- Inform neighbors and the landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see your partner near your home.
- Change your phone number and make it an unlisted number. Screen your calls if you have an answering machine or caller ID. Save all messages with threats or that violate any orders, including threatening e-mails or text messages.
- Get legal advice. Find a lawyer knowledgeable about domestic violence to explore custody, visitation and divorce provision that protect you and the children.
Safety with a Protection Order
- Keep your protection order on you at all times (When you change purses or wallets, the order should be the first item you put in).
- Call the police if your partner breaks the protection order in any way.
- Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond right away.
- Inform family, friends and teachers of relevant details of the protection order: who has custody, when and where visitation takes place, etc.
- If you are a teen in need of a protection order, a parent can apply for one on behalf of a minor child in Maine.
Safety on the Job and in Public
- Decide who at work you can tell about your situation, including office or building security and provide a photo of your partner, if possible.
- Arrange to have someone screen your calls.
- Devise a plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car. Use a variety of routes to go home. Know where the closest police station is and drive to it if you are being followed.
- If you and your partner work at the same place, discuss with your supervisor your options regarding scheduling, safety precautions, employee/family benefits.
Your Safety and Emotional Health
- If you are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation, discuss this plan with someone you trust. Avoid rash decisions.
- If you have to communicate with your partner, plan in advance the safest way to do so.
- Read books, articles, and poems to help you feel stronger. Keep a journal.
- Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive with others about your needs.
- Seek people with whom you can talk freely and openly and who will give you emotional support.
- Plan to attend the Family Violence Project support groups for emotional support and to learn more about resources.