The following are a list of options that can help you plan for the safety of yourself and/or children before an episode of violence or abuse occurs. These steps are merely suggestions and will not prevent a violent episode from happening. If you follow any of these steps and continue to experience abuse, it is not your fault! The abuser is the only one who can make the abuse stop. If you would like to download a personalized safety plan, please click here.
Some things to consider…
Know the Shelter’s hotline number. Put it on Speed Dial on your cell phone. You may contact the Shelter’s confidential hotline, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by calling (434) 293-8509. Collect calls are accepted and this is line is a Voice/TTY line. You may also call the statewide hotline at 1-800-838-8238 (V/TTY).
Try to avoid getting trapped in the kitchen (too many potential weapons) or bathroom (no space to escape or move away and too many hard surfaces to be pushed or knocked against). It’s also a good idea to avoid any areas of the home which may be used to store guns or other weapons. It is not recommended you use a weapon against the abuser; it may get turned against you and/or take the violence to a more dangerous level.
Consider any possible escape plans before the violent episode. What are some possible escape routes including doors and windows? If you feel that a violent episode may occur soon, try to leave before it starts. If possible, try to take your children with you. Think about safe places you could go after you leave. If you don’t feel it is safe to go to family or friends, consider going to a shelter. At the very least, you can always try going to a public place such as a shopping center, fast food restaurant or police station. If you are being followed, go to the closest police or fire station (if this feels safe for you). If you don’t know where these are located in your area, you can find information in the local telephone book or on city and county websites.
If you have a car, have an extra car key copy made and hide it in a safe place in or around the car. You can purchase a magnetic key holder from a hardware store. Then, if you are able to get to the car during a violent episode, you’ll be able to drive to safety. Hiding extra money in the glove compartment for phone calls/and or gas might also be helpful. Consider backing into your parking spot so you can pull out quickly.
Pack an extra set of clothes and shoes for yourself and your children. Include things like diapers, toiletries, medications and, some extra money. Store these things with a neighbor, friend, church member or in another safe place if you are not planning to leave immediately.
If you can, gather important documents that you might need later such as birth certificates and social security numbers, marriage license, protective orders, medical insurance information, family and friends’ phone numbers, children’s school records and other important information. You can also photocopy these items in advance and store them in a safe place since you may not be able to return to get them during a violent episode.
Treat financial records like you would important documents. Take your rent, mortgage and utility receipts, checking and savings account information, credit cards, account numbers and significant cancelled checks. Hide a blank check with your extra clothes.
If you have a neighbor who you trust and can confide in, you may want to work out a signal for the need for police. You could arrange to blink a light, bang on the wall, scream a word or two, use a code word or phrase on the phone, to let the neighbor know to call the police.
Remember, sometimes the best laid plans don’t work out, so have a back-up plan just in case. Consider all your options. As a last resort, if an attack occurs and you have no way out, consider pretending to faint or have a seizure. It may stop the attack.
The abuse is NEVER your fault!
If you are in need of assistance, please call our 24-hour hotline at: (434) 293-8509 V/TTY.
Collect calls accepted.
If this is an emergency, please call 911.
Si esto es una emergencia, llama por favor 911.