PRACTICAL STEPS YOU
CAN TAKE TO PROMOTE YOUR SAFETY
If you are living with your
abuser or in an abusive relationship:
Memorize important phone numbers or
keep them available in a safe place: Friends and relatives whom you
can call in an emergency and a hotline number (see Emergency
Services Referrals, and seek their assistance.)
If your children are old enough, teach
them important phone numbers, including when and how to call 911
Keep any materials concerning domestic
violence in a safe place where your abuser will not find them, but where
you can get to them
Keep change for a pay phone with your
at all times or buy a phone card and save it for emergencies
Open your own bank account and/or get
a safe deposit box
Stay in touch with friends. Get
to know your neighbors. Join a support group. Try not to let
yourself be cut off from family, friends, or assistance.
Leave a Set of Keys, extra money, a
change of clothes and copies of important documents with a trusted friend
or relative with 24 hour access
Consider: birth certificates,
immigration papers, passports, greencards, driver’s license, insurance
ID, social security cards, School ID, welfare papers, medical records,
prescription medicine, legal papers, money & credit cards (if you are
in hiding, use of credit cards may help him find you), appointment books,
address books, car registration, membership cards, favorite things, pets.
Consider: Do not leave notes;
feed the pets; hide weapons; DO NOT LEAVE DOODLES, NOTES, CALLING CARDS,
SHELTER INFORMATION, BUS TICKETS OR AIRLINE INFORMATION BEHIND.
If you have left the relationship:
Change the locks, especially if you’re
still in your home and the abuser is the one who has left. Change your
phone number and leave it unlisted. However, if you have children, the
abuser will probably be entitled to visit them and call them. This
may pose problems. Make sure you seek legal assistance to understand
your rights and obligations.
Install as many security measures as
possible in your home. For example, these may include metal doors
and gates, a security alarm system, smoke detectors and outside lights.
Inform neighbors that your former partner
is not welcome at your home. Ask them to call the police if they
see that person near or on the property or watching your home. If
you have a restraining order, give a copy of your neighbors.
Make sure the people who care for your
children are very clear about who does and who does not have permission
to pick up the children. If you have a court order concerning child
custody and visitation, give the childcare provider a copy. Make sure you
seek legal advice concerning custody and visitation of your children. See
Emergency Services Referrals and Legal Referrals.
Obtain a restraining order. Keep
it on your person at all times. Keep another in a safe place.
Give copies to neighbors, childcare providers, and co-workers.
Tell your co-workers about the situation,
and ask them to warn you if they see your abuser at your workplace.
Avoid stores, banks and businesses
that you used when you were with your abuser.
Get counseling. Attend workshops.
Join a support group. Get counseling for your children. Build a support
LEGAL STEPS YOU CAN TAKE TO PROMOTE
1. Call 911 if you
are in danger. If they are old enough, teach your children how and
when to dial 911.
When the police arrive, show them
any bruises, cuts, scrapes or any other visible injuries, even those under
your clothes. If you have visible injuries, the police should arrest
the abuser whether or not you “press charges.” Even if the police
take pictures, you should take your own pictures and keep them in a safe
place. If you are afraid to do any of this in front of your abuser, tell
the officer and ask the officer to take him/her to another location.
2. Ask for an Emergency
Protective Order (EPO)
If a violent incident or serious
threat occurs before you can obtain a restraining order, you can call the
police or other law enforcement officer and request an Emergency Protective
Order (EPO). An EPO may include: orders restraining the abuser's personal
conduct, keeping him away from you, your house, the children’s school,
excluding him from the residence, temporary custody of the children, orders
protecting children or other family or household members. The law enforcement
officer may issue the restraining orders if he or she believes that you
or your child are in immediate and present danger of domestic violence,
child abuse or child abduction, based on your statements of recent abuse
or threat of child abduction. The officer may request permission
to issue an EPO at the scene of the incident or at the station. There is
a judicial officer on call by telephone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,
for the purpose of approving the officer’s request to issue an EPO whether
or not the court is in session.
The EPO may be issued for up to
five court days or seven calendar days. The EPO is enforceable after
it is served on the abuser. The issuing officer is required to serve abuser
with a copy of the EPO if the abuser can reasonably be located.
a Restraining Order from Court
( See Kinds
of Family Law Proceedings; See Overview
of How To Get Restraining Orders under the DVPA)
about Applying for Restraining Orders