If you believe, in any way, that you or your children are being hurt by an abusive relationship, asking for help is a step in the right direction. By safety planning, we hope to lessen or remove the risks to your safety not only if you are planning on leaving this relationship, but after you have left as well. Please call SupportLink, a safety planning agency in North Bay at 705-472-8391 for an assessment of your safety concerns and to help you create a plan to help you through this time.
The following are some safety strategies to consider. Please be aware that not all of this information applies to everyone. Use what feels helpful to you.
While in the Relationship:
Shelter Phone Number: ________________________________________
I can tell my neighbours about the abuse and ask them to call police if they hear suspicious noises coming from my home.
If I leave my home, this is a safe place I can go to: ___________________________________________.
I can leave extra money, car keys, clothes and copies of documents with/at: ______________________.
If I leave, these are some of the items that I will try to bring with me or have copies of:
- Birth certificates for me and my children and me
- Social Insurance Card
- Money, bankbooks, credit cards
- Keys – house/car/office
- Driver’s license and registration
- Change of clothes
- Ontario Works/ODSP identification
- Passport(s), green card(s), work permits
- Divorce/Custody papers
- Lease/rental agreement/Mortgage papers/house deed
- Current unpaid bills
- Insurance papers
- Address book
- Pictures, jewelry, items of sentimental value that I can’t replace
- Children’s favorite toys and or blanket
Safety planning after you’ve Left an Abusive Relationship:
Safety on the Job and In Public
Only you can decide if and when you will tell others about the abuse and violence. Friends, family and co-workers may help support you. Decide carefully which people to invite in to help secure your safety.
- Inform your boss, supervisor and anyone else you think should know about your situation. Ask co-workers to help screen your telephone calls at work. If you are receiving calls at work, or anyplace else, document them. Write down the date, time and what was said. If someone is present with you, log their names as well.
- Consider taking a different route to work and/or park in a different area than before.
- Use different grocery stores and shopping malls and shop at different hours from when living with your partner. Use a different bank and bank at different hours than before. Vary your routine and patterns. Keep car doors locked at all times, even when you are in the vehicle.
Safety and Your Emotional Health
Living with abuse in any form is exhausting and emotionally draining. The process of building a new life takes time and energy. To take care of yourself, try some of the following:
- Plan ahead for what you can do if you feel down and are thinking of returning to a potentially abusive situation. It is not uncommon to think about returning to your abusive partner. Talk to someone about these thoughts and feelings to help you work through them. The shelter is here 24 hours a day and ready to listen.
- Develop a plan that best protects your safety for when/if you have to communicate with your ex-partner in person or by telephone. Think ahead of time what you will say or do if he becomes abusive or tries to talk you into doing something you know is not in your best interests. Having a support person with you can be part of your plan.
- Find friends and family members you can call when you need support.
- Attend workshops and/or support groups to gain support and strengthen your relationship with yourself and other people. Find a counsellor who can help you move forward from this relationship. Contact Women’s Outreach at 494-9589 for support in this area.
Safety At Home When Living Apart
- Change the locks on doors and windows and replace wooden doors with metal. Install additional locks, window bars, lighting, smoke detectors… This may not always be possible for financial reasons but there are sometimes programs available to assist – contact your local shelter to see if anything is available in your community.
- Teach your children how to use the telephone to make a collect call to you in the event your partner takes the children. Teach them how and when to dial 911. Tell people who take care of your children who has permission to pick your children up and that your partner is not permitted to do so. Provide copies of custody papers when available.
- Inform neighbours and friends that your partner no longer lives with you. If your partner is not allowed around you or your home, ask them to phone police if they see him.
A large part of safety planning is living your life more consciously – living more aware of your surroundings and what is going on around you.
Shelters and other community agencies offer more detailed, individualized safety plans. Call your local shelter for details and support.
After you’ve left your abusive relationship, document all interaction you have with your ex-partner. If there are hang up phone calls write them down. If he drives past your home write it down. Document dates, times and what happened. This may be needed in the future if the abuse continues after the relationship is over.