If you are in immediate DANGER or fear for your safety, please CALL 911. If you are not in immediate danger, call VictimLink BC at 1-800-563-0808 for information about services that are available throughout BC.
Be aware that a person may be at risk of experiencing violence or harm if their family learns that they have sought assistance.
Safety and exposure to risk must always be considered when creating an action plan or offering advice in cases of forced marriage.
Open a bank account:
- In your own name
- Arrange that no bank statements or other calls be made to you
- Or, arrange that mail be sent to a friend or family member
- Save and set aside as much money as you can
- Plan your emergency exits
- Plan and rehearse the steps you will take if you have to leave quickly, and learn them well
- Have extra clothing, house keys, car keys, money, etc. at a friend’s house
- Keep an emergency suitcase packed or handy (and be ready to pack quickly)
- Consider getting a safety deposit box at a bank that your partner does not go to
- Get your Emergency Escape Plan in order and review it often.
- Create a telephone list with numbers of local police, nearest women’s shelter, assaulted women’s help line, crisis help line, family members, counsellors, children’s friends.
- Make arrangements with friends or family so that you can stay with them if necessary.
- If you can predict the next likely violent episode and make plans for the children to be sent to friends, family or other safe place.
In order to increase your safety, here are some things you can do:
- Remind yourself that you have an Emergency Escape Plan, and go over it in your mind.
- Start to position yourself to get out quickly or near a phone so you can call 911, if necessary.
- Try to move to a space where the risk is the lowest. (Try to avoid arguments in the bathroom, garage, kitchen, near weapons, or in rooms without access to an outside door.)
- If you have children, use your code word with your children so they can call for help.
- Use your judgment and intuition – if the situation is very serious, you can agree with your family/partner or give them what they want to calm them down. You have to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
- When, or after, you have been assaulted, call the police at 911 if you can. Tell them you have been assaulted and need help. Leave the phone off the hook after your call.
- Make as much noise as possible (set off the fire alarm, turn up the stereo or TV) – so that neighbours may call the police for you.
- Documents: Keep these items in a safe place (e.g. at a friend’s or family member’s home, with a lawyer, in a safety deposit box). Make copies and keep the copies in a separate place from the originals.
- passports, birth certificates, status card, immigration papers for all family members
- school and vaccination records
- driver’s license and registration
- medications, prescriptions, medical records for all family members
- work permits
- divorce papers, custody documentation, court orders, restraining orders, marriage certificate
- lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book
- bank information, account numbers, safety deposit key
- insurance papers
- address/telephone book
- picture of spouse/partner/children/other family members
- health cards for yourself and family members
- copies of all cards you normally use: e.g. credit cards, bank cards, phone, Social Insurance
Cards: Keep all the cards you normally use in your wallet. Keep your wallet and purse handy, and containing the following:
- car/house/office keys
- cheque book, bank books/statements
- driver’s license, registration, insurance
- address/telephone book
- picture of spouse/partner
- emergency money (in cash) hidden away
In case you have to leave quickly, keep the following items handy:
- 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
Children: Take your children with you when you leave for safety. Many women have reported extreme difficulty in gaining custody of their children after leaving abusive relationships if they initially left their children behind. Please call your local community-based victim services program (or VictimLINK at 1- 800-563-0808 for the nearest program in your community) to gather more information with regards to your children and their safety.
- Teach the children to let you know when someone is at the door and not to answer the door on their own.
- Create a code word with your children and/or friends so they know to call for help.
- Teach your children how to make a collect call to you and to special friends or family if your
partner takes the children.
- Plan your emergency exits, teach your children and know them well.
- Teach your children their own Safety Plan
Basic safety planning for children
This plan was developed to help mothers teach their children some basic safety planning. It is based on the belief that the most important thing that children can do for their mothers and their families is to get away from the area of violence! They cannot stop the abuse, although they often try by distracting the abuser or directly interfering in the abusive episode. It is important to tell the child that the best and most important thing for them to do is keep themselves safe.
Children who experience seeing their mom’s abuse can be profoundly affected. It is very traumatic for them to be faced with violence directed at them or at someone they love. Personal safety and safety planning are extremely important and necessary for children whose mothers are experiencing violence. Children need ways to protect themselves.
There are several ways to help you develop a safety plan with your children including:
- Have your child pick a safe room/place in the house, preferably with a lock on the door and a phone.
- The first step of any plan is for the children to get out of the room where the abuse is occurring.
- Stress the importance of being safe, and that it is not the child’s responsibility to make sure that his/her mother is safe.
- Teach your children how to call for help. It is important that children know they should not use a phone that is in view of the abuser/abusers. This puts them at risk. Talk to your children about using a neighbour’s phone or a pay phone if they are unable to use a phone at home. If you have a cell phone, teach your children how to use it.
- Teach them how to contact police at the emergency number.
- Ensure that the children know their full name and address (rural children need to know their rural route number, or whatever is applicable).
- Rehearse what your child/children will say when they call for help. For example:
- Dial 911.
- An operator will answer: “Police, Fire, Ambulance.”Your child says:
- Then your child says:
- My name is ______________.
- I am ____ years old.
- I need help. Send the police.
- Someone is hurting my mom.
- The address here is _______________.
- The phone number here is ______________.
- It is important for children to leave the phone off the hook after they are done talking. The police may call the number back if they hang up, which could create a dangerous situation for yourself and your child/children.
- Pick a safe place to meet your children, out of the home, after the situation is safe for you and for them (so you can easily find each other).
- Teach your children the safest route to the planned place of safety for them.
Being abused and verbally degraded is exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of surviving and building a new life requires much courage and incredible energy.
To conserve your emotional energy and to support yourself in hard emotional times, here are some things you can do:
- Attend individual or group counselling sessions.
- Become involved in community activities to reduce feeling isolated.
- Enroll in school to increase your skills.
- Join support groups of other women to gain support and strengthen your relationships with other people.
- Take time for yourself to read, meditate, play music, etc.
- Spend time with people who make you feel good and provide support.
- Take part in social activities, e.g. movie, dinner, exercise.
- Take care of your sleep and nutritional needs.
- Take time to prepare yourself emotionally before entering stressful situations like talking with your partner, meeting with lawyers, or attending court.
- Try not to overbook yourself – limit yourself to one appointment per day to reduce stress.
- Be creative and do whatever makes you feel good.
- Write something positive about yourself everyday – your own personal affirmations.
- Monitor your use of alcohol or food.
- Avoid excessive shopping and impulse buying.
- Join a health club or start an exercise program to increase your energy level and your sense of well-being.
- It’s OK to feel angry. Find positive and constructive ways to express your anger.
- Remember that you are the most important person to take care of right now.
“Safety Planning” information taken from here.