If you or your children are in danger, call 999 immediately.
If you are not in immediate physical danger, call our helpline on 03301 025811. We will provide you with the support you need to consider your options and decide what to do to improve your safety and that of your children.
Keeping Yourself Safe
You and your children’s safety should always come first. Although the suggestions below may improve your safety, they will not guarantee it. Remember, you will have the best understanding of your abuser’s behaviour, so only do what you think will help.
If you are still in an abusive relationship:
- Call 999 in the event of an emergency. Think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond straight away.
- Teach your children what to do in an emergency.
- Tell them to call 999 and be able to give the address but not to get involved. They should never use a phone in front of the abuser as this may endanger them.
- Plan an escape route from every room in your home.
- Think of a safe area in your home to go if an argument happens. Stay away from rooms with no exits, hard surfaces, or where there are objects which can be used as weapons e.g. the kitchen.
- Make a list of safe people to contact. If possible memorise all important phone numbers.
- Speak to a trusted neighbour about your situation who will call the police if they hear a disturbance.
- Develop a ‘code word’ or ‘sign’ so that family and friends know when to call for help.
- Keep money/ change with you at all times, and know where the nearest working phone box is.
- Think about what you will say to your partner if they become violent. Use your judgement of the abuser to protect you and your children. You are in no way colluding with the abuser if you give them what they want in order to protect you and your children.
- Know where to go and what to do in an emergency and have an alternative.
You may also be able to do some of the following:
- Keep a record of the violent and controlling behaviour to support any future action you may take; civil or criminal.
- Log incidents with the police, even if you do not want to press charges at present.
- Seek legal advice.
- Have any bruises or injuries recorded by a doctor for future use in any legal proceedings or re-housing procedures. You can also take a picture using a camera or your mobile phone.
If you are planning to leave
You may not feel able to leave immediately, but you can plan and be prepared for if an emergency does arise and you need to leave your home. Leaving is often the most dangerous time, so planning this can increase your safety.
- Have a packed bag ready and keep it in a secret but accessible place, so you can leave quickly.
- Keep important documents (e.g. marriage/ birth certificates, national insurance card, passport, driving licence, legal documents), money, medication, and items of sentimental value in a safe place so that they can be grabbed in a hurry.
- Only tell people you trust where you will be. Lie if you have to, as this may protect you and them.
- Always try to take your children with you or make arrangements to leave them with someone safe.
- If the last number you called was a refuge, taxi or the place you are going to stay, dial another number, for example, the Speaking Clock (dial 123).
Once the relationship has ended
Unfortunately, domestic violence and abuse may not end even when the relationship has ended. In order to increase your safety you can:
- Inform trusted friends or relatives that you are no longer in the relationship and they should call the police if they see your former partner near or trying to gain access to your home.
- Change locks on your doors and make sure that all windows and doors are as secure as possible.
- Have additional security installed e.g. sensor security lighting/ burglar alarms.
- Change the routes you use to take your children to school.
- Inform people who look after your children e.g. teachers, which people have permission to collect them. If you have an injunction, give a copy to the school.
- Change your phone number, and ask for your calls to be screened when at work.
- Change your routines e.g. shop in different places at different times, and take different routes home etc.
Your safety and emotional well being
- If you’re thinking of returning to a potentially violent and abusive situation, discuss an alternative plan with someone you trust or a domestic violence support service.
- If you have to communicate with your (ex) partner, determine the safest way to do so. If you have to meet with them do so in a public place.
- Have positive thoughts about yourself and be assertive about your needs.
- Get support from a domestic violence service.
- Decide who you can speak to openly to give you the support you need.
- Take care of yourself through regular exercise.