Taking Precautions & Making Plans to Stay Safe
No one deserves to be hit or threatened. If you are being hurt by someone you love, make plans and take precautions to keep yourself and your children safe. The following are suggestions that have helped others.
During an Explosive Incident
- During an argument, try to be in a place that has an exit. Try to avoid arguing in a bathroom, kitchen or any room that may contain weapons.
- Practice getting out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator or stairwell to use.
- Pack a bag with money, change of clothes and a set of keys and leave it with someone you trust.
- Identify one or more neighbors 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.
- Plan where you will go if you ever have to leave the home.
- Use your instincts and judgment. In some dangerous situations, if possible, give the abuser what he/she wants to calm him/her down.
- Keep your cell phone charged and call or text 911 with the address where you need assistance.
When Preparing to Leave
- Open a checking or savings account in your own name.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents and extra clothes and medicines in a safe place or with someone you trust.
- Get your own post office box.
- Plan a safe place where you can go and someone who is willing to loan you money.
- Always keep the shelter phone number and a pre-paid phone card or some change for making emergency phone calls with you.
- If you have pets, make arrangements for them to be cared for in a safe place. You can contact the Knoxville Family Justice Center for referrals.
Obtaining a Protective Order
- You can file for a protective order at the Knoxville Family Justice Center or at the 4th Circuit Court in the City-County Building.
- Always keep your protective order with you.
- If your abuser violates the protective order, call the police to report the violation. If you are working with an attorney and/or an advocate, let them know about the violation. Advise the Court of the violation. You can get assistance handling the violation at the Knoxville Family Justice Center.
- Plan ways to stay safe until the police respond.
- Inform family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors that you have a protective order in effect.
- Document all violent and threatening incidents with dates, times and witnessess of the events listed. Keep all voice mail/email and text messages. Take them to law enforcement, your DV advocate and/or attorney to record as evidence of violations of the protective order.
- File a criminal complaint. Your abuser can be charged with a violation of the protective order as well as any crimes committed during the violation. Your DV advocate can help you with this.
In Your Own Residence
- If you are staying in the residence you shared with your abuser, change the entry locks as soon as possible. Keep your windows locked.
- Develop a safety plan with your children in case the abuser shows up when you are not with them.
- Inform your children’s school/daycare about who has/has not permission to pick up your children.
- Inform neighbors and your landlord that your abuser no longer lives with you and request that they call the police if they see him/her near your home.
- Request an unlisted/unpublished number from the phone company. Try to look up your number on the internet and, if it is there, request that it be removed.
- If you have moved, NEVER give your new address to your abuser. Do not call your abuser from your home phone; your phone number will show up on caller ID and can help your abuser locate you.
- Check your cell phone settings. If your phone has an optional location service, consider turning the feature off. If you cannot disable this feature, turn your phone off when not in use.
- Create a new email account.
- Your abuser may be monitoring activity on your computer. If possible, use a safe computer such as at the public library, community center or an internet cafe.
- Change passwords and PIN numbers frequently.
- Search your name on the internet to see if there are any results that contain your contact information or links to your contact information. Remove any contact information that you find.
- Be careful using social networking. Never post anything you don’t want your abuser to read or information that can help your abuser find out where you are. Even if your abuser doesn’t have access to your page, he/she may have access to your friends’ pages. Social Media Safety Guide
On the Job and in Public
- Inform someone at work of your situation, especially security officers. Provide them with a picture of your abuser.
- If possible, have someone screen your phone calls.
- Have someone walk with you to and from your car or the train or bus.
- Don’t take the same route to and from work every day.
- If possible, change your work hours and/or location.
Checklist (What you need to take when you leave)
- Identification: Driver’s license; birth certificate; children’s birth certificates; social security cards.
- Financial: Money and/or credit cards (in your name); checking/savings account books.
- Legal Papers: Protective Order; Lease, rental agreement; house deed; car registration & insurance information; health & life insurance documents; medical records for you & your children; school records; work permits/green card/visa; passport; divorce & custody documents; marriage license.
- Other: Medications; house & car keys; valuable jewelry; address book; pictures & sentimental items; change or clothes for you & your children; children’s favorite blanket/toys.
Printable Safety Plan