Changing for Good
The following Safety Plan is adapted from the Domestic Violence Resource Centre – they have many resources for people escaping domestic and family violence.
Safety at home
- Create your Care Community – A community can help keep you safe. Ask people who you trust to call the police on 000 if they hear fighting, shouting or noises. Sometimes people who live in flats or apartments set up a code of stamping or tapping so their neighbours know they need to get help.
- Organise a place to go if you need to get away. Knowing you can stay with a friend can help you be clear about where to go if you need a safe place.
- Keep a list of phone numbers of family and friends separate from your phone in case it gets taken from you.
- Keep a separate mobile phone with a prepaid sim so that you can stay in touch with people and calls can’t be checked from the phone bill or call logs.
- Have your escape plan ready for when you feel that things might get out of control.
Your escape plan
- Plan and practice quick emergency exit routes from all the rooms in your house/flat.
- Have an escape bag somewhere with spare keys, important papers, a special toy for the kids and some spare cash in case you need to leave in a hurry. If you need prescription medicines, keep a spare script in your escape bag. This can be kept at a friend’s house. Leaving it at your own house might not help you if you have to leave in a hurry.
- Keep spare copies of keys, important papers, photocopies of bank cards and credit cards, etc. with a family member, friend or someone you trust.
- If you have any mobility issues or disabilities, arrange in advance for a friend to come straight away if you ring or text them. Some people use a code word, agreed on in advance. That way you can call even if the perpetrator can hear you.
- If it’s safe, keep a diary of abusive or frightening incidents. These can help if you need to get a protection order.
Consider gathering some useful addresses and numbers:
- Local taxi services (accessible taxi services, if you need them)
- The crisis phone line in your state or territory
- The closest crisis contact centre
- The address of the local police station.
Safety after separation
- If you have separated from your partner, get solar powered, automatic motion sensor outdoor lights, extra window or door locks, or gates if you can.
- Police will often do a ‘security upgrade’ check for you and provide ideas about increasing safety for your particular house or flat. Some domestic and family violence services or police services have funds available to help with costs.
- Change your mobile number and have it set on ‘private’. Use a different SIM card if you need to communicate about children.
- Ask government agencies, utilities companies, law firms, doctors, schools etc. to keep your details private. There are new policies coming on line for this at power companies.
- Speak to the school or childcare and let them know what is happening – they need to be alerted.
- Get a PO Box for important mail or keep your home address private.
- Talk to a domestic and family violence service, a community lawyer or the police about getting a protection order if you don’t already have one. These can alert police to some of the dangers in advance. They can also be written, to prohibit the abuser from coming to your workplace.
- Choose a well-lit, populated area to live if you are moving.
- Always be aware of who is around you and observant of any changes, anything out of place at home.
Safety in public or at work
- Park your car in a busy public place. Avoid underground car parks, or if you have to use them, get someone to walk you to your car.
- If you see your partner or ex, get into a public or a busy place as soon as possible.
- If you have separated from your partner, ask your boss if you can have calls and visitors screened through reception. If you work in a public space, such as a shopping centre, talk to the security staff and show them your ex’s photo.
- Change your routines regularly. Where possible, catch different trains or trams, leave home or work at different hours, shop in different places or online.
- Tell your boss or security staff of any protection orders that prevent the abuser from coming near your work. Keep a copy of your order at work or in your bag.
Safety on the Internet
- Use a public computer (library, community centre) or a friend’s computer that your abuser can’t access.
- Change or delete your Facebook account and your kids’ accounts, or review your privacy settings to restrict access. People can accidently give away details of where you are living or where you will be. Tell your friends not to ‘tag’ you or the kids in any online platforms.
- Change your email account. Make it hard to trace – don’t use your name and birth year in the account name.
- Have a computer technician check your computer for spyware or keystroke logging programs.
- Help your kids to know when there are warning signs of danger.
- Keep the conversation practical like other safety conversations you might have around natural disaster planning, fire safety, etc.
- Practice emergency escape routes – talk about these at the same time as you talk through a fire or hurricane drill.
- Teach your children that it is not their responsibility to stop the abuser or intervene when they are angry or violent.
- Teach your children who they can call or where the can go in an emergency. This includes how to call 000 and ask for the police, and how to give their address.
- Tell schools or childcare centres about the violence, along with school parents you can trust. They can keep a look out for signs of escalation and also help with caring for your child’s emotional needs.
- A community of care helps keep kids safe. Give the school or childcare centre a copy of your protection order, and a photo of the perpetrator so they know who to look out for.