October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

If you stay, stay safe

I’ve written about people who don’t realize they are victims of domestic violence. (Click here to download a PDF about domestic violence.)

Now let’s consider the victims who DO know but aren’t yet prepared to leave the relationship.

Never mind why they stay — they have good reasons for that, reasons they may not be able to explain fully to others or even to themselves.

If you or someone you know is still in an abusive situation, it’s important to plan ahead for the next assault. Develop a safety plan, using these ideas:

~Identify safe areas of the house where there are no weapons and where there are always ways to escape. If arguments occur, try to move to those areas.

 ~Know where the nearest pay phone is located.

~Know your local battered women’s shelter number.

~Don’t be afraid to call the police.

~Let family, friends, or neighbors you trust know about your situation. Arrange a signal so they’ll know when you need emergency help.

~Be sure your children know they should never get involved when you are being threatened or harmed by your partner. Teach them to get away from the abusive situation and find help.

~Keep an extra set of keys to house and car, emergency telephone numbers, important papers (birth certificates, income verification, social security numbers, medication for you and/or your children, child’s favorite toy, etc., extra clothes packed in trash bag (not obvious)

~If you are injured, go to a doctor or an emergency room and report what happened to you. Ask that they document your visit.

~Keep any evidence of physical abuse, such as pictures, etc.

~Keep a journal of all violent incidences, noting dates, events and threats made if possible.

~Contact your local battered women’s shelter and find out about laws and other resources available to you before you have to use them during a crisis.

Asking for help from a domestic violence shelter program does not obligate you to go into shelter. If you call a hotline, you don’t usually have to give your name. If you’re asked for your name, you don’t have to give your real name.

These programs exist to help you stay safe. Advocates care about you and want to provide you with the resources you need to live safely and happily. All you have to do is ask….

National Domestic Violence Hotline

800.799.SAFE (7233)

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