Domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women in the United States.  Four women die as a result of abuse each day.  Up to two-thirds of those who abuse their partner also physically or sexually abuse the children.

The goal of a batterer is to gain power and control over the victim through any means necessary.  This may be through physical abuse, forced sex, humiliation, threats, isolation from family or friends, or economic.  The cycle of violence is a recurring behavioral pattern that includes a building of tension, explosion, reconciliation, and recurrence.  The reconciliation phase may include an apology from the batterer, an excuse such as intoxication, blaming the victim, and promise to change behavior.

A personalized safety plan should be made by the abused partner.  The following table was provided through permission of Safe Haven of Lonoke County, Arkansas.

Safety During An Explosive Incident

  • Decide and plan for where you will go if you have to leave home (even if you don’t think you will need to).
  • Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, elevator or stairwell would be best.
  • Have a packed bag ready and keep it at a relative’s or friend’s home in order to leave quickly. Use the checklist on this brochure to decide what is important for you to take with you.
  • Identify one or more neighbors you can tell about the violence and ask them to call the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your home.
  • Devise a code word to use with your children, family, friends and neighbors when you need the police.
  • If you believe an argument incident is going to occur, try to move to a room or area where you have access to an exit. Stay away from any weapons, the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom or other rooms without an outside door or window.
  • Use your own instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous, do whatever is necessary to be safe. This may mean giving the abuser what he wants to calm him down.
  • If necessary, call for help. Dial “0” or “911 “.
  • Always remember – You Do Not Deserve To Be Hit, Threatened, or Live in Fear!

Safety When Preparing To Leave

  • Open a savings account and/or credit card in your own name to start to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
  • Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra medicines and clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly. Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money.
  • Keep the shelter or hotline number close at hand and keep some change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls.
  • Review your safety plan as often as possible in order to plan the safest way to leave your batterer.  Remember – Leaving Your Batterer Is A Very Dangerous Time!

Safety At Home

  • Change the locks on your doors as soon as possible. Buy additional locks and safety devices to secure your windows.
  • Discuss a safety plan with your children for when you are not with them.
  • Tell your children’s school, daycare, etc., who has your permission to pick up the children.

Notify your neighbors and landlord that your partner no longer lives with you and that they should call the police if they see him near your residence.
Check List – Important Things to Take When You Leave

  • Identification
  1. Driver’s License
  2. Children’s Birth Certificates
  3. Your Birth Certificate
  4. Social Security Cards
  5. Work Permits/VISA
  6. Passport
  • Financial
  1. Money and/or credit cards
  2. Bank books
  3. Checkbooks
  4. Public Assistance documentation
  5. Tax return from previous year
  6. Pay stubs for you
  7. Loan information
  • Other Important Papers
  1. Your Protection Order
  2. Lease, rental agreement or house deed
  3. Car registration and insurance papers
  4. Health and life insurance papers
  5. Medical records for you and children
  6. Vaccination records
  7. Divorce papers
  8. Custody papers
  • Other
  1. House and car keys
  2. Medications
  3. Address Book
  4. Phone Cards
  5. Pictures of you, your children and your abuser
  6. Change of clothes for you and your children
  7. Children’s toys

Safety With A Protection Order

  • Keep your protection order on you at all times. Give a copy to a trusted neighbor, family member or clergy person. Keep a copy in the glove compartment of your car.
  • Call the police if your batterer violates the protection order.
  • Think of other ways to keep safe until law enforcement arrives.

Inform family, friends, neighbors, or your physician that you have a protection order.

Safety In Public Or At Work

  • Tell your co-worker(s), boss, and/or office or building security about your situation. Provide a picture of your batterer if possible.
  • Arrange to have an answering machine, caller ID or co-worker screen your telephone calls if possible.
  • Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car or bus, and wait with you until you are safely on your way.
  • Use a variety of routes to go home if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home.
  • Go to different grocery stores, businesses, and banks if possible. If this is not possible, change the time and day that you go shopping.

The safety plan may also include obtaining an Order of Protection, which can be requested at the Office of the County Prosecuting Attorney.

For more information, contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.