What should I do if I intend to stay with my abuser:
If you are staying with your abuser:
- Seek professional advice and support from local support and outreach organisations, domestic abuse services and helplines.
- Consider how agencies can make contact safely, e.g. through a work number or at a friend’s address.
- Consider where you can quickly and easily use a telephone and try to establish safe people to contact – memorise a list of numbers for use in an emergency, such as friends, police or support organisations.
- Consider a signal (such as a codeword) with children, family, neighbours, friends or colleagues which will alert them to call the police if help is needed.
- Think through escape routes in advance, avoiding rooms with no exit or rooms which may contain potential weapons (e.g. bathroom or kitchen) where possible.
- Try to put by some money for fares and other expenses.
- Seek and obtain medical help for any injuries ensuring that they are recorded and if possible photographed ‒ these may be used at a later date to support court cases or rehousing applications.
- Consider changing online passwords regularly, especially for social networking accounts – this may not be appropriate where the perpetrator regularly accesses your accounts as part of coercive control as it may escalate risk.
- Avoid the use of satnavs and be aware that the perpetrator may monitor your movements by checking the satnav history if not deleted.
What should I do if I plan to leave
If you are planning to leave:
- Take care over whom to trust with any plans that you are making to leave.
- Avoid satnav use when travelling to a prospective new home or destination and always delete the history if you do – your abuser may check it to see where you have been and find out what you are planning.
- Consider whether or not a civil order is a viable option – seek legal advice.
- Make an extra set of keys for home and/or car and store them somewhere safe.
- Make up a bag with spare clothes, telephone numbers, keys, money and keep it safe so you can take it quickly, or keep it with a trusted friend.
Have the following available in case you have to leave quickly:
- Important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, driving licence, divorce papers, lease or mortgage papers, passports, insurance information, school and medical records, welfare and immigration documents, court documents.
- Credit cards, bank account number online passwords, especially for banking and social media.
- Some money.
- Extra sets of keys – for car, house and work.
- Medications and prescriptions, including those for children.
- Telephone numbers and addresses for family, friends, doctors, lawyers and community agencies.
- Clothing and comfort items for you and the children.
- Photographs and other items of sentimental value such as jewellery.
- Take identification that might help others to protect you from the abuser, such as a recent photo of the abuser and their car details.
- Talk to children about the possibility of leaving and try to take all the children, whatever long-term arrangements might be.
- Avoid making any unusual changes to routine which may alert your abuser that something is going on.
What should I do if I am living without my abuser after separation
If you are living without your abuser after separation (in your own home or after moving):
- Seek expert legal advice on child contact and residence applications, and about options for civil orders.
- Change telephone numbers to ex-directory, screen calls and pre-programme emergency numbers into the telephone.
- Change all online passwords, especially for social networking accounts, and check privacy settings on social media sites.
- Take your satnav with you or delete its history if you are leaving it behind.
- Change the locks and install a security system, smoke alarms and an outside lighting system.
- Notify neighbours, employers and schools about any injunction, and ask them to call the police immediately if they see the abuser nearby.
- Make sure that schools and those who care for your children know who has authorisation to collect them.
- Employ safety measures before, during and after contact visits with children.
- Consider changing children’s schools, work patterns – hours and route taken – and the route taken to transport the children to school.
- Avoid banks, shops, and other places frequented when living with the abuser.
- Make up a codeword for family, colleagues, teachers or friends, so that they know when to call the police for help.
- Keep copies of all relevant paperwork (including civil injunctions) and make written records of any further incidents.