Orana House provides a comprehensive Risk Assessment and Safety Planning service for its Outreach clients through The SWitCH Centre.
If you live in a family and domestic violence situation, please read below for a detailed checklist of additional precautions you can take to make yourself and your children safer.
Safety plans in other languages can also be found here.
- SAFETY BEFORE AND DURING AN EXPLOSIVE INCIDENT
- Practice how to get out of your home safely. Identify which doors, windows, lifts or staircases would be best.
- Talk to a trusted neighbour about your situation. Encourage them to call the Police if they hear anything that sounds like abuse at your property. Develop a code, like turning on the front house lights if you need help during the day, and off at night. You can speak to the neighbours about a code word the children will tell them, which means they are to call the Police and that you need help.
- Give children (who are old enough to understand) a code word that means leave the house and go to the neighbours. If you do not believe it is safe for the children to leave your house, then identify in your home a safe place where they can go until the Police arrive, e.g. a toilet with no windows and a lock, or even a pantry.
- Always encourage your children to seek help and not to try to help you in a violent incident. Teach them how to call 000 for the Police, Fire and Ambulance services. Tell them not to hang up afterwards, as this helps the services monitor what is happening and find you.
- Keep your phone charged, with credit, and on you at all times. Make sure emergency numbers are easy to locate.
- If you think an argument is unavoidable, try to have it in a room or area where you have access to an exit. Try to stay away from the bathroom, kitchen, bedroom or anywhere else where weapons might be available to be used against you, e.g. sharp kitchen knives or tools.
- Use your instincts and judgement. If the situation is hazardous, say what the abuser wants to hear to calm him down. You have the right to protect yourself until you are out of danger.
- Always remember – YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE HIT, THREATENED OR ABUSED.
2. SAFETY WHEN PREPARING TO LEAVE
Planning to leave safely is important when family and domestic violence have been present in the relationship.
Separation is the most dangerous time for victims of violence, so it is vital to consider the following:
- Start keeping a diary of all incidences of abuse, dates, times, witnesses and injuries as you may need these for Court in the future. Please keep it in a safe place where your abuser will not find it.
- If it is safe to do so, take photos on your phone of any injuries after incidences of abuse and forward them to a safe person.
- Always try to see your GP after an incident of abuse to record the details and make sure you are okay.
- If possible, get in contact with a family and domestic violence service so they can offer you support and advice.
- Ensure you know the phone numbers for Emergency Services, such as the Police and Crisis Care (08 9223 1111), in case you need help or to seek crisis accommodation. You can find more useful numbers and links here.
- Know your abuser’s schedule – this will help you know when he/she comes and goes and when it is safest to leave.
- Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of essential documents, additional medicines and clothes with someone you trust so you can leave quickly.
- Determine who would be able to let you stay with them or lend you some money when you leave.
- Open a savings account or a credit card in your own name to start to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
- Go to the post office – redirect your mail from the date you plan to leave so you will continue to receive important mail.
- Review your safety plan as often as possible to plan the safest way to leave your abuser.
3. SAFETY WHEN LEAVING
- DO NOT inform your children of your plan to leave BUT DO inform your support people if it is safe to do so.
- It is a good idea to park your car reversed in the drive or where it would be easy to escape quickly. Keep it topped up with fuel, and place your extra car key in a safe place outside your home where it would be easy to grab and go.
- If you have been using the computer to browse information, make sure you erase your browsing history.
- If you have dialled for help or information from a landline, immediately dial another number to prevent your abuser from using redial and finding out where you are.
- Turn off the GPS tracking on your and your children’s phones, iPads and other electrical devices. If you don’t know how to do this, speak to a phone carrier, and they will assist you.
- Lock your car doors when travelling at all times after you have left home.
- Go straight to a safe place and contact your support people or the emergency services.
- If your abuser has access to your bank account, go to the bank, withdraw your money and open a new account in your name only. Keep the details safe. Only do this on the day you plan to leave, or it can alert your partner.
Checklist of what you need to take when you leave:
- Driver’s licence
- Children’s birth certificates
- Your birth certificate
- Medicare card
- Social Security card
- Marriage certificate
- Money and credit cards
- Bank books
- Cheque books
- Your Violence Restraining Order
- Lease, rental agreement, house deed
- Car registration & insurance papers
- Medical records for you and your children
- Divorce papers
- Custody papers
- House and car keys
- Children’s small toys
- Toiletries and nappies
- Change of clothing for you and your children