Preparing a Safety Plan
It is not easy for battered women to leave the perpetrator therefore the separation process may take time. No matter what the woman’s current decision is, help her prepare a safety plan to be followed if her and her children’s safety is at risk.
- Memorising phone numbers of people and services that could help: a friend, mother, specialised help centre and the police.
- Having a ready escape plan if violence recurs.
- Preparing and hiding at the relatives’ all the necessary items to be used if she is unable to return home during outbursts of violence:
- documents (or copies thereof): passport, children’s birth certificates and marriage certificates;
- some money;
- the bank agreement and credit card codes;
- indispensable medicines and prescriptions thereof (should she or the children need them);
- spare home and car keys;
- a notebook with most important phone numbers;
- several personal items – clothes and children’s favourite toys.
- To agree on a password to be used while calling a friend to warn her of recurring violence and say that help is needed.
- To ask a neighbour to call the police if she hears a row at their home.
- To tell the closest people about it – maybe they will offer ways to help.
Explain that in the case of recurring domestic violence she should:
- Trust her gut feeling – if she senses danger to her or the children she should seek a safe place immediately.
- Avoid closed spaces and places where there are dangerous items, try to stay in a place at home with an easy escape route.
- Call the police and call those who can help as soon as she finds a phone.
Point out that once she decides to get a divorce, she will also have to do the following:
- Change the phone SIM card and save the most important phone numbers.
- Open a personal bank account where she could gradually save up money and think who could lend her money for settling down and starting an independent life.
- Think in advance where she could stay – perhaps relatives would agree to provide accommodation, or maybe she will find a solution herself (for example, agree to stay at the Crisis Centre).
- Discuss the prepared action plan with her relatives and the staff of the Specialised Help Centre who would be able to advise on the best course of action.
- Use the free legal assistance available at the Specialised Centre and find out everything about the divorce procedure, division of property and custody rights.
- Contact the consultants of the Specialised Help Centre even when she feels support is lacking – they will offer every help and assistance.
- Be positive about each step and decision she makes, even if it fails sometimes.