Protecting Yourself from Domestic Violence
Domestic violence takes on many forms—one form is a confrontation between household members involving physical or emotional harm, sexual assault, or fear. There is no “typical” victim, and domestic violence does not always manifest as physical abuse.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one out of three women and one in four men have been victims of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner within their lifetime. One out of five children are exposed to intimate partner violence, and 90% of these eyewitness the violence. You are not alone.
Protect Yourself With a Safety Plan
He says he’ll stop. I think he’ll change. Maybe it’s me. These are just a few things you might be telling yourself. While you may or may not be ready to leave an abusive relationship, it’s important to take precautions to keep yourself safe. To ensure your welfare, you should be alert, prepared, and educated. Your safety plan should include the following:
- Know the signs that your abuser is getting upset.
- Identify safe areas of your home—avoiding small spaces, rooms with weapons, and rooms without exits.
- Create several believable reasons to leave your home to avoid abuse (including day and night).
- Create a code word to let loved ones know you’re in danger.
- Make and memorize a list of emergency contacts.
- Keep gas in your car, driver door unlocked, and hiding the spare key somewhere you can quickly access it.
- Build a support system including your family, friends, and colleagues.
- Remember to call collect or to use a prepaid phone so numbers can’t be traced.
- Use a computer outside of your home and change passwords frequently.
Important Things You Should Keep in Mind
Dealing with domestic abuse can take a toll on you emotionally, as well as physically. To help you cope, here are some important things to remember:
- You are not to blame.
- You deserve to be treated with respect.
- You deserve to feel safe.
- You deserve to live a happy life.
- You are not alone.
- Your abuser will not change unless he takes full responsibility and seeks help.
- Do not believe your abuser when he or she promises to stop.
- Don’t let fear of the unknown keep you in a dangerous situation.
Moving on from Domestic Violence
After escaping from domestic violence, you may experience nightmares and uneasiness for a period of time. You may struggle with developing new relationships due to broken trust and it will take time for you to feel strong and powerful, like the survivor you are. To make the transition easier, here are a few steps to take:
- Get an unlisted number.
- Use a P.O. box instead of home address.
- Cancel old bank accounts and credit cards—especially the ones in your abuser’s name.
- Apply to your state’s address confidentiality program to have your mail forwarded confidentially.
- Attend a support a group from domestic violence survivors.
Resources You Can Use
There is help. WomenHealth.gov recommends the following:
Calling the police. If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
- Calling hotlines. Learn more about different help hotlines. Hotlines provide support and resources. They also can help you create a safety plan for leaving an abuser.
- Talking to a health care professional. Doctors, nurses, and counselors can offer physical aid, emotional support, and resources. Go to a hospital emergency room if you need immediate help for injuries.
- Contacting a shelter or rape crisis center. Shelters provide food, housing, and other types of help. You can find shelters and services by contacting a hotline or through state resources.