If you’re trying to decide whether to stay or leave, you may be feeling confused, uncertain, frightened, and torn. Maybe you’re still hoping that your situation will change or you’re afraid of how your partner will react if he discovers that you’re trying to leave. One moment, you may desperately want to get away, and the next, you may want to hang on to the relationship. Maybe you even blame yourself for the abuse or feel weak and embarrassed because you’ve stuck around in spite of it. Don’t be trapped by confusion, guilt, or self-blame. The only thing that matters is your safety.
Get yourself comfortable
Whether or not you’re ready to leave your abuser, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. These safety tips may might the difference between being severely injured or killed and escaping with your life.
Know your abuser’s red flags. Stay alert for signs and clues that your abuser is getting upset and may explode in anger or violence. Come up with several believable reasons you can use to leave the house (both during the day and at night) if you sense trouble brewing.
Identify safe areas of the house. Know where to go if your abuser attacks or an argument starts. Avoid small, enclosed spaces without exits (such as closets or bathrooms) or rooms with weapons (such as the kitchen). If possible, head for a room with a phone and an outside door or window.
Come up with a code word. Establish a word, phrase, or signal you can use to let your children, friends, neighbors, or co-workers know that you’re in danger and they should call the police.
Make an escape plan
Be ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Keep the car fueled up and facing the driveway exit, with the driver’s door unlocked. Hide a spare car key where you can get to it quickly. Have emergency cash, clothing, and important phone numbers and documents stashed in a safe place (at a friend’s house, for example).
Practice escaping quickly and safely. Rehearse your escape plan so you know exactly what to do if under attack from your abuser. If you have children, make sure they practice the escape plan also.
Make and memorize a list of emergency contacts. Ask several trusted individuals if you can contact them if you need a ride, a place to stay, or help contacting the police. Memorize the numbers of your emergency contacts, local shelter, and domestic violence hotline.
Protect your privacy
Abusers often monitor their partner’s activities, including their phone, computer, and Internet use. You may be afraid to leave or ask for help out of fear that your partner will retaliate if he finds out. However, there are precautions you can take to stay safe and keep your abuser from discovering what you’re planning.
When seeking help for domestic violence and abuse, it’s important to cover your tracks, especially when you’re using the home phone, a smartphone, or a computer.
Call from a friend’s or neighbor’s phone when seeking help for domestic violence, or use a public pay phone or a “burner phone.”
Check your smartphone settings. There are smartphone apps your abuser can use to listen in on your calls, read your text messages, monitor your Internet usage, or track your location. Consider turning it off when not in use or leaving it behind when fleeing your abuser.
Get a second mobile phone. To keep your communication and movements private, consider purchasing a prepaid phone (“burner” phone) or another smartphone that your abuser doesn’t know about. Some domestic violence shelters offer free cell phones to battered women. Call your local hotline to find out more.
Call collect or use your second phone. Remember that if you use your own home phone, the phone numbers that you call will be listed on the monthly bill that is sent to your home. Even if you’ve already left by the time the bill arrives, your abuser may be able to track you down by the phone numbers you’ve called for help.
Use a safe computer. If you seek help online, you are safest if you use a computer outside of your home. While there are ways to delete your Internet history on a computer, tablet, or smartphone that your abuser has access to, this can be a red flag that you’re trying to hide something. Besides, unless you’re very technical, it can be almost impossible to clear all evidence of the websites that you’ve visited. Use a computer at work, the library, your local community center, a domestic violence shelter or agency, or borrow a smartphone from a friend.
Change your user names and passwords regularly. In case your abuser knows how to access your accounts, create new usernames and passwords for your email, IM, online banking, and other sensitive accounts. Even if you don’t think your abuser has your passwords, he may have guessed or used a spyware or keylogging program to get them. Choose passwords that your abuser can’t guess (avoid birthdays, nicknames, and other personal information).
This article was originally published on helpguide.org. To read the original post, click here.
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