Deciding Whether to Stay or Leave
Only you can decide whether it would be best for you to stay or leave your domestic violence situation. We encourage you to consider your safety first and foremost when choosing whether to remain in your home or seek shelter elsewhere. Although you can’t control your partner’s violence, you do have a choice about planning for safety. You can decide for yourself if and when you will tell others that you have been abused or that you are still at risk. Friends, family, and co-workers can help protect you if they know what is happening and what they can do to help.
If you decide to leave your situation, you will want to take certain items with you. Remember, your safety is top priority. If you need to leave without these items in order to be safe, do so. Some people give an extra copy of papers and an extra set of clothing to a friend just in case they have to leave quickly.
Other items to consider:
- Children’s birth certificates
- Your birth certificate
- Social Security cards
- School and vaccination records
- Checkbook, ATM (Automatic Teller Machine) card
- Credit cards
- Keys & Spare Keys – house/car/office
- Driver’s license and registration
- DHS Bridge Card / Paperwork
- Work permits
- Green card
- Divorce papers
- Medical records – for all family members
- Lease/rental agreement, house deed, mortgage payment book
- Bank books
- Insurance papers
- Address book
- Children’s favorite toys and/or blankets
- Items of special sentimental value
- Important telephone numbers
Safety While Living with an Abusive Partner
- When it is safe for you to do so, you might want to consider:
- Try to get out or get help before any violence occurs.
- When in danger, if possible, move to a room where you have access to an
Avoid the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, or any place where there could be weapons.
- If there are weapons in the house, try to remove them or lock them up.
- Practice how to get out of your house safely. Identify which doors,windows, elevators, or stairways to use.
- Have a bag packed and keep it at a relative’s or friend’s home so you can leave quickly.
- Set a routine of walking the dog, getting a paper, or taking out the garbage so that it is normal for you to leave for a short period of time.
- Teach your children to call 911.
- Create a code word with your child(ren), family, friends, and neighbors to alert them to call 911 especially if they hear a disturbance in your home.
- Plan with children. Plan a safe place for them. Reassure them that their job is to stay safe and not to protect you.
- Trust your own instincts and judgment. If the situation is very dangerous,consider giving the assailant what they want to calm down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
- Make extra house and car keys and hide them for emergencies.
- Document events in a journal and keep it in a safe place.
Safety When Preparing to Leave
- Open a savings account and/or credit card in your name to establish or increase your independence. Have bank statements sent to a safe address. Think of other ways you can increase your independence.
- Get your own post office box. You can privately receive checks and letters to begin your independence.
- Keep the shelter hotline number with you. Keep change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls.
- Determine who would be able to let you stay with them, lend you money, or someone you trust that would keep the following documents and items for you.
Important documents and items to take with you when preparing to leave
- Personal Protection Order
- Driver’s License or State ID Card
- Social Security Card
- Custody Papers, Divorce Decree, etc.
- Medical Insurance Cards and Medical Records
- Medications and Prescriptions
- DHS Identification/Bridge Card
- Birth Certificates
- Pictures of Your Injuries
- Credit Card
- Lease, Rental Agreement or Mortgage Papers
- Car Registration/Insurance
- Health and Life Insurance Papers
- School Records
- House Keys and Car Keys
- Cell Phone/Phone Calling Card
- Emergency Shelter Numbers
- Any Other Papers you think you may need
Computer Use and Safety
- There are hundreds of ways that computers record everything you do on the computer and on the Internet.
- If you are in danger, please try to use a computer that someone abusive does not have direct access, or even remote (hacking) access to.
- It might be safer to use a computer in a public library, at a community technology center, at a trusted friend’s house, or an Internet Café.
- If you think your activities are being monitored, they probably are. Abusers are often controlling and want to know your every move. You don’t need to be a computer programmer or have special skills to monitor someone’s computer activities– anyone can do it and there are many ways to monitor.
- Computers can provide a lot of information about what you look at on the Internet, the e-mails you send, and other activities. It is not possible to delete or clear all computer “footprints”.
- If you think you may be monitored on your home computer, you might consider no home Internet use or “safer” Internet surfing. Example: If you are planning to flee to California, don’t look at classified ads for jobs and apartments, bus tickets, etc. for California on a home computer or any computer an abuser has physical or remote access to. Use a safer computer to research an escape plan.