Domestic Violence Safety Strategies

If you are in an abusive relationship, here are some ways to protect yourself:

Decide on a safe place to go if an argument occurs. Avoid rooms with no exits (bathroom, basement) and avoid rooms with things that could be used as weapons (kitchens, garages, basement).

Make a list of people to call for help. Memorize important emergency numbers.

Call the Domestic Violence Center (216- and the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center (216-619-6192) and find out, before you are in an emergency situation, what kinds of help are available to you.

Establish a code word, unknown to your partner, or sign with friends and family, so they know when you need help.

Think about what you will say or do—or not do—if your partner becomes violent.

Keep a set of clothes and emergency supplies (medications, cash, toiletries) stored at a friend or relative's house in case you need to flee your house.

Keep a set of important documents—such as passport, protective order, financial records, birth certificate, deeds, and safety deposit key—in a safe place away from the house or apartment you share with your partner—a place ONLY YOU can access.

If you have a protective order, keep it with you at all times. Make several copies, and keep them in a safe place, out of your partner's reach.

If you have left the relationship

It takes a lot of courage to leave an abusive relationship. However, the period right after you leave can be a dangerous one. Take the following steps to improve your safety:

Change the locks immediately, if your former partner has a key.

Change your phone number and screen your calls.

Save all evidence involving your former partner's abusive behavior; document all injuries.

Avoid staying alone for a while, and vary your daily routine.

Plan how you will escape if your former partner confronts you.

If you must meet your partner, arrange to meet in a public place at a time when you are certain plenty of other people will be around. Avoid being drawn into any contact at all, including phone calls, with the former partner unless it is absolutely necessary.

Notify friends, family, co-workers, and supervisors that you have left the relationship. Former partners often contact people who know their victims to get information about their daily routine, phone number, and address.