Domestic violence hotlines across the nation received increased calls after the commercial was aired, particularly from people attempting to leave an abusive relationship. Oftentimes, however, in domestic violence situations, the victim is most at risk when the victim is trying to escape from the relationship and the abuser. Therefore, in instances where there is domestic violence in a relationship, it is important to have a safety plan for the victim when he or she is contemplating filing a divorce or leaving the abuser.
Some important issues to consider when forming a domestic violence safety plan include:
· When and how can the victim most safely leave?
· Are there children involved? If so, determine a safety plan for leaving with the children, so that the children also are protected.
· Are there weapons in the residence? If so, determine whether it is possible to remove the weapons without alerting the abuser.
· Where are the nearest exits in the residence? Come up with an escape route and practice the route, taking into consideration any dangers in the home, including household items such as tools and kitchen knives.
· Does the victim have access to transportation, money, and a place to go immediately after leaving the abuser? If not, the victim may want to contact a local domestic violence hotline or shelter.
· Insure the abuser does not know the location where the victim plans to go and come up with an alternative location for the victim to be moved, should the abuser find out where the victim is located.
· Set up a Post Office Box for the victim, and also alert important people and organizations as to where mail and email should be sent. The victim may want to get a new email address and select a password that would not easily be guessed by the abuser.
· Who are people the victim can trust who will not contact the abuser? These should be individuals who can be part of the victim’s support system before, during, and after the victim leaves. Remember, many victims of domestic violence frequently return to the abuser. A support system may be helpful should the victim consider returning to the abusive situation.
· What will the victim need to get away from the abuser? Consider immediate financial needs, medications, keys, important documents such as government identification, passports, bank account numbers and/or checkbooks, car titles, lease agreements, house deeds, health records, insurance information, school records, and any court documents. You also may want to consider an extra set of clothing, telephone numbers for people in the victim’s support system, a disposable cell phone, and comfort items.
· Finally, consider obtaining a temporary protection order from the Courts.