Stay Safe

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Stay safe from domestic and family violence

We can help you to be safer, whether you are planning to leave or if you have separated but are staying in your home.

Here are some safety guidelines you can use to help you avoid dangerous situations and know the best ways to react when you or your children are in harm’s way. They can help you think about your immediate needs and how to plan for your future.

Planning to leave

If you’re thinking about leaving, we encourage you to make a plan and be cautious in how you use it. You will be the best judge of when it is the safest time to leave. Never tell the person you fear you are thinking of leaving. If the time is right to leave, just go – even if you have not had time to prepare. You and your children’s safety is the most important thing. Here are some safety guidelines you can use when planning to leave.

  1. Never discuss your plans to leave with the person you fear or anyone who might tell him/her.
  2. Contact Bonnie’s or the Domestic Violence Line for assistance around how to leave safely and what resources will be available to you and your children.
  3. Let selected supportive friends, family or neighbours know what is happening and keep a list of their phone numbers in a safe place so they can help you in an emergency. Arrange with them a code word you can use on the phone to tell them you are in danger. Use a code word that doesn’t alert the person you fear and keep it secret.
  4. Use a pay phone or pre-paid card to make calls that you do not want the abuser to know about.
  5. If age appropriate it is important when speaking to your child/children to advise them of your plans and the importance of not telling anyone. Plan and practise an escape route from your house for you and your children. Plan a safe time to leave, a safe route to take, and the transport you’ll use.
  6. Get your own set of car and house keys.
  7. Open up a bank account in a different bank the person you fear does not know about and arrange for statements to be picked up or sent to a friend’s home or a P.O. Box. If your bank statements are online consider changing your password.
  8. Use a trusted friend or family member’s address or a P.O. Box for any mail that might cause suspicion.
  9. Clear your phone of the last number you called to avoid the abuser using the redial function.
  10. Stay at a friend’s house, a hostel, a refuge, a shelter or have a shelter help you relocate to another city if that feels safer.
  11. If you have a pet that you can’t take with you, contact the RSPCA or other animal shelter.
  12. If you are in immediate danger, dial 000 and ask for the police. Run outside, taking the children with you. Always head for the safety of other people.

Checklist of items to bring

Where possible, bring as many of these items as you can. It will help us too, but if you can’t locate anything, don’t let that stop you from contacting us or leaving if in danger. Remember your safety is the most important thing.

Here’s a checklist of items to try and bring when you leave:

  • Your own identification (e.g driver’s licence, passport) and your children’s ID (e.g birth certificates, passports, immigration papers)
  • Medications and medical supplies for you and your children
  • Healthcare information including prescriptions, vaccination records, Blue Book (immunisation record)
  • Housing documents – proof of residence, lease/rental agreement, mortgage papers, insurance policies
  • Legal documents – divorce papers, marriage certificate, custody documentation, court orders, restraining orders
  • School and education records
  • Money
  • Bank card and bank information
  • Your address book or list of contacts
  • Keys for home, storage, car, work, safety deposit box etc
  • Small, valuable or sentimental items such as jewellery
  • Children’s favourite toys and blankets
  • Pictures or other evidence of the abuse

Staying safe at home

You might be planning to stay in your home after you’ve separated from your the person you fear. Or perhaps you are not yet ready to leave. Consider these guidelines for the safety of you and your children.

  1. Keep bushes and trees trimmed away from paths, doors and windows.
  2. Ask your telephone service provider what features are available that can improve your safety (call block, call privacy, unlisted number, answering service etc).
  3. Let supportive friends, family and neighbours know what is happening and keep a list of phone numbers for people who can help you in an emergency. Keep the list in a safe place.
  4. Change your locks and make sure you have a good deadlock. Always make sure all windows and doors are locked. Consider installing security devices such as an alarm, motion sensor lights and security screens.
  5. Inform your landlord and a neighbour that the person you fear is not residing there.
  6. Install a peephole so that you can see who is at your door.
  7. Make sure your house number is clearly visible and well lit for emergency calls.
  8. Always have your home and car keys in your hand when you are entering your home or leaving.
  9. If you come home and something is out of the ordinary eg. a door is ajar, do not go in. Go to a neighbour’s or a pay phone and call the police.
  10. Be very careful about what you throw out in the garbage. Tear up any letters or documents that are private. A paper shredder is a valuable resource if you’re worried about someone reading your documents.
  11. If the person you fear knows your e-mail address, change it and be careful of whom you give it to. Visit our Safety and Technology page for more tips on covering your tracks on your phone and how to browse safely on your computer.
  12. Keep the phone numbers of domestic and family violence services safe by hiding them, or adding them to your phone directory under other names.
  13. Have your mail redirected to a P.O. Box or a friend or family member you know is trustworthy and understanding of your current circumstances.
  14. Keep a record of suspicious activity or threatening behaviour (including contact such as unwelcome phone texts and Facebook or other social media messages).
  15. Call 000 and ask to speak to the police if you fear for your safety or the safety of your children.

Safety and children

If age appropriate tell your children as much as they need to know to be safe, but don’t tell them your plans. Keep them to yourself until you are ready to put them into action. Teach your children their address, how to speak to a school teacher and how to call 000 and speak to the police. Plan with them what they should do in an emergency – where they should go and what they should do to be safe.

Make sure your children know which other adults they can talk to if they feel scared or upset.

This is a guide to help you think about how to plan your children’s safety.

  1. Tell your children their only job is to stay safe themselves; they do not have to protect you. They must always run to safety, even without you.
  2. Teach your children to leave the room or not to come in the room where the danger is and which room or trusted neighbour they should go to.
  3. Develop a visual or other code for your children to know not to enter the house or the room if there is danger eg. if a light is on or off or if shouting can be heard by them.
  4. If age appropriate, practise and role-play safety plans with your children including what to do and where to go if something violent or scary happens.
  5.  Role play: Tell the children that when they feel scared they should go to a designated room or a neighbour’s house. There they can either call the police or their support people. Act out the step-by-step procedure and be confident that the children are familiar with the procedure. 
  6. If age appropriate, let your children know that you might have to leave quickly in order to protect yourselves. Practise a signal and an escape plan with them. Work out a safe code word that you can use that will indicate to the child/ren that now is the time you are going to leave.
  7. Instruct your children never to answer the door or the phone.
  8. Inform your children’s school, doctors, and child care provider of your situation and give them a copy of any court orders.
  9. Inform these same people about who is allowed to pick up your children and have contact with them. Request that they report any suspicious persons or activity to you and/or police.
  10. Ensure that your children are accompanied to and from school and any other places they go to.
  11. If the person you fear has access to the children, develop individual and group safety plans with the children for these visits. The plans can include cues they are in danger, escape plans from the location of the visit and who/where they can go for help.
  12. Arrangements can be made for transporting your children to the access visits so that you do not have to contact with the person you fear. Ask someone you trust to drop them off and pick them up. You can arrange for the children to be picked up from a public location.
  13. Make sure your children know how to use the phone and keep emergency numbers by all phones.
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