One of the big questions many women (and men) have regarding their relationship is how safe are they. Safety is always an advocate’s number one priority. Some of the top tips of advice we can suggest include the following 5 ideas.
- Always be aware that you can be monitored online and on your phone.
Due to all the technology advances, it is really easy to install programs on your computer and/or phone to monitor your activity. Sometimes abusers know exactly what is said in every text message, or they can look at your history on the computer. For that reason, a safer option might be to use the computers at the public library to research safe places to go. If you can afford a simple phone for emergencies, keeping a secret phone would be a good idea. Even if you don’t think they would do this, it’s one of the most common things agencies see.
- Tell someone else what is going on.
It might seem terrifying to tell someone else what is going on, but once you do, you can start making a plan. It also makes it less of a secret, which can begin building you up again. Hopefully, the person you tell will connect you to your local domestic violence agency. A benefit to having someone outside the relationship is that you can have them check in with you and have a code word with them. Have it be something you might be able to tie into a normal conversation, such as mushroom, so if you say/text the code word, your trusted person knows that they should call the police.
- Find someone to trust and start giving them important documents.
We recommend someone who your abuser doesn’t know. Maybe it’s a neighbor or a friend from one of your kids schools. It can also be a family member.If you start getting copies of important papers, such as birth certificates, social security cards, etc. out of the house, you won’t have to go back to the house to get them. You also can bring other items that you fear might get broken in a rage if you leave. If you don’t have anyone else, maybe open a secret safety deposit box.
- Have a safety plan.
While you are deciding what the best course of action is, consider making a safety plan. Vow to always have your phone on your body, so it can’t get stolen or an argument can’t occur in a different room than it. Consider the ways to get out of your house. Having your back to the door means you can get out easier than being backed against a wall. Memorize a few phone numbers for safe people to call, in case you need to spend the night somewhere else or you need a ride. Tell your kids about a safety plan for them. You don’t have to specify that there is abuse, but you can practice a safety plan, just like you would a fire drill. It’s always better to be prepared and that practice might help your kids feel more secure.
- You are the best judge of your safety.
Sometimes that means you should stay in the relationship/house for awhile longer. Sometimes it means you have to get out ASAP and not look back. Being prepared in advance will help when that time comes. Just remember, that if there has been violence in the past, it is more likely to happen again. You know your abuser the best. Use that to your advantage. If you are planning on leaving, try to not engage in any arguments to avoid having to leave before you’re ready.
No matter what, please remember that you never deserve to be abused. You have the right to a healthy, safe living environment and to be treated with respect.
If you would like to talk to an advocate about your relationship, please call the national hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or visit their website at www.thehotline.org for information.
What other safety tips do you have?