It’s hard to believe that 6 years ago I was in horrible domestic violence relationship. My husband had died suddenly the year before and in my grief I let myself fall prey to an abusive man.
Things progressed quickly, the lies, deception, manipulation, power and control escalated silently. Hindsight is 20/20 I can look back and clearly see the abuse…the power and control building.
Isolation….manipulation….blaming….massive emotional abuse… financial abuse…spiritual abuse….physical abuse….child abuse….all done by him. I constantly walked on egg shells. I desperately tried to keep him happy so he wouldn’t hurt the girls. Because according to him I was responsible for his feelings and to keep him happy.
A couple weeks ago I attended The Leeshore Center’s 40 hour Community Awareness Workshop for Domestic violence and Sexual assault. This Workshop is required in order to volunteer in the shelter and also for the Board of directors….I hope to do both.
It was a very hard week of training. Lots of triggers but lots of good information.
One thing we worked on was Safety Planning. We made up a sample safety plan. And tonight going through some old emails I found my safety plan from 6 years ago.
Here’s the email and template the King Salmon SAFE Shelter Advocate sent me:
This might be more info than you really need, but it does give you the full range of things to consider. Call my if you would like to talk about any of it.
KEEPING YOURSELF SAFE IS A PRIORITY!
Depending on the nature of the abuse, your safety plan may be as complex as an escape to another state with a new identity or as simple as going to the next room and closing the door.
The safety plan is much like an escape plan you make in case of a fire. It describes precisely what to do when you see the tension building or violence occur. The plan can include trusted people in your life, and you may want to share a copy of your safety plan with them.
SAFETY PLAN FOR VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
This is my plan for increasing my safety and preparing in advance for the possibility of further violence. Although I do not have control over my partner’s violence, I do have a choice about how to respond to him and how to best get myself and my children to safety.
My Important Telephone Numbers
Police: 911 and ______________ (Non-Emergency)
Domestic Violence Program/Safe Home: ______________
District Attorney’s Office ______________
SAFETY DURING AN ASSAULT
Women cannot always avoid violent incidents, but they can do a number of things to increase their safety during violent incidents.
I can do some or all of the following:
1. If I decide to leave, I can get out of the house by ________________________ (Practice how to get out safely. What doors or windows will you use?)
2. I can go to ________________________ (Decide this even if you don’t think there will be a next time.)
3. In order to be able to leave quickly, I can keep my purse and vehicle key ready by putting them ________________________
4. I can tell ________________________, (neighbors) about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear suspicious noises coming from the house.
5. I can teach my children how to use the telephone or radio to contact the police and to get help in an emergency.
6. I can use ________________________ as my code word with my children and/or friends when I am in danger, so they will call for help.
7. When I expect an argument, I can try to move to ________________________, a space near an outside door that has no guns, knives or other weapons (usually bathrooms, garages and kitchen areas are dangerous places.)
8. I can use my judgment and intuition. If the situation is very serious, I can give my partner what he wants to calm him down. I have to protect myself until I am out of danger.
9. I can call the police when it is safe, and I can get a protective order from the court.
SAFETY WHEN PREPARING TO LEAVE
Leaving must be done with a careful plan to increase safety. Batterers often strike back when they believe the woman is leaving the relationship.
1. So I can leave quickly, I can leave money, an extra set of keys, extra clothing and important documents with _________________
2. I can open a savings account to increase my independence by _________________
3. I can check with _________________ and _________________ to see who would be able to let me stay with them or lend me some money.
4. The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1-800-799-SAFEbegin_of_the_skype_highlighting 1-800-799-SAFE end_of_the_skype_highlighting (7233). By calling this free Hotline, I can get the number of a shelter near me.
5. I can rehearse my escape plan and, as appropriate, practice it with my children.
6. Other things I can do to increase my independence:
Checklist – What you may want to take with you, if it is safe to do so:
2. Address book
4. Credit cards
6. Social Security Cards
7. Keys (house/car/work)
8. Welfare identification
9. Driver’s license/vehicle registration
10. Address book
11. Birth and marriage certificates
12. Checkbook, ATM card and other bank books
13. Work permit
14. School and vaccination records
15. Children’s birth certificates
16. Divorce papers
17. Copy of protective order
19. Pets (if you can)
21. Photo Album
20. Children’s special blanket, doll or stuffed animal
SAFETY IN MY HOME
There are many things that a woman can do to increase safety in her home. It may be impossible to do everything at once, but safety measures can be added step by step.
1. I can inform ___________________ that my partner no longer resides with me and they should call the police if he is seen at my residence.
2. I can change the locks on my doors and windows as soon as possible.
3. I can replace wooden doors with steel/metal doors.
4. I can install security systems including additional locks, window bars, poles to wedge against doors, an electronic system, etc.
5. I can purchase rope ladders to be used for escape from second floor windows.
6. I can install smoke detectors and purchase fire extinguishers for my home.
7. I can install an outside lighting system that lights up when a person is coming close to my house.
8. I can teach my children how to use the telephone, in case my partner takes them, to make a collect call to me and ___________________ (friend/advocate/minister/other.)
9. I can tell people who take care of my children which people have permission to pick up my children and that my partner does not have permission. The people I will inform about this are:
___________________________ (day care)
SAFETY WITH A PROTECTIVE ORDER
Protective orders are available from the court. An advocate is available at the nearest domestic violence/sexual assault program to help you get one. Many batterer’s obey protective orders, but some do not.
I understand that I may need to ask the police and the courts to enforce my protective order. I can do some or all of the following to increase my safety:
1. I can keep a copy of my protective order with me at all times.
2. I can check with my local police department to make sure my protective order is on record with them. If not, I will give a copy of my protective order to them. I will also give a copy of my protective order to police departments in the community where I work and in those communities where I usually visit family or friends.
3. I can tell my employer, my domestic violence program advocate, my minister, my closest friend, and _____________________ that I have a protective order in effect.
4. If my partner destroys my protective order, I can get another copy from the court-house by calling _____________________
5. If my partner violates the protective order, I can call the police and report a violation, call my attorney, call an advocate at a domestic violence program, and/or advise the court of the violation.
SAFETY ON THE JOB AND IN PUBLIC
Each battered woman must decide for herself if and when to tell others about the violence. Friends, family and co-workers can help to protect her, and she needs to consider carefully who to ask for help.
I can do any or all of the following:
1. I can tell my boss, the security supervisor and _____________________ at work of my situation.
2. I can ask __________________ to help screen my telephone calls at work.
3. When I leave work, I can walk with __________________ to my car or the bus stop. I can park my car where I will feel safest getting in and out of the car.
4. When traveling home if problems occur, I can __________________
5. I can use different grocery stores, shopping malls, and banks to shop and do business at hours that are different from those I used when residing with my battering partner.
6. I can also __________________
SAFETY AND DRUG OR ALCOHOL USE
Many people use alcohol and drugs. Using illegal drugs and abusing alcohol can be very hard on a battered woman physically and emotionally, and may hurt her relationship with her children and put her at a disadvantage in court. Beyond this, the use of alcohol or other drugs can reduce a woman’s awareness and ability to act quickly to protect herself from her battering partner. Therefore, in the context of drug or alcohol use, a woman needs to make specific plans.
If drug or alcohol use has occurred in my relationship with my partner, I can enhance my safety by doing some or all of the following:
1. If I am going to use, I can do so in a safe place and with people who understand the risk of violence and are committed to my safety.
2. If my partner is using, I can __________________________________
3. To safeguard my children, I can __________________________________
4. I can also __________________________________
Whenever I feel others are trying to control or abuse me:
5. I can read _________________ to help me feel stronger.
6. I can call _________________, _________________, and _________________ as other resources to be of support to me.
7. I can attend workshops and support groups at the domestic violence program or _________________ to gain support and strengthen my relationships with other people.
8. Other things I can do to help me feel stronger are: __________________________________
It’s hard to believe that this was part …no…all of my life 6 years ago. My life was consumed with DV.
If posting this can help one person then…sigh…
I escaped, I survived, I saved myself and my children. Even though it was compounded by the fact that I had a special needs child.
Please if you’re in an abusive relationship ….especially if you have children….you’re stronger than you realize. You too can escape…ask for help.
It’s one of the hardest things you’ll ever do but unimaginably rewarding.