How can you protect yourself and your children? Start by making the following pledge to yourself:
Although I can’t control my abuser’s violence, I do have a choice about how I respond and how I get to safety. I will decide for myself if and when I will tell others that I have been abused, or that I am still at risk. Friends, family and coworkers can help protect me, if they know what is happening, and what they can do to help.
The following steps are my plan for increasing my safety and preparing to protect myself in case of further abuse.
- I will call 911 if I am in danger or need help.
- If I am injured, I will go to a hospital emergency room or doctor and report what has happened to me. I will ask that they take photos and document my visit in writing.
- I can tell my family, co-workers, boss, or a friend about my situation. I feel safe telling:
- I know where I can go for help and where I can tell someone what is happening to me. I will keep phone numbers and change for phone calls with me at all times. I can call any of the following people for assistance or support if necessary and can ask them to call the police if they see my abuser bothering me.
- I will make up a ‘code word’ for my family, co-workers, or friends, so they know when to call for help for me. My code word is :
- I will also make up a ‘signal’ with a trustworthy neighbor to signify trouble (for example, if the porch light is on during the day, the neighbor should call the police). My signal will be:____________________ and my neighbor is:__________________
- I will plan and identify with my children a safe place for them. If possible, a neighbor’s house where they can go for help. I will reassure them their job is to stay safe, not to protect me. My children’s safe place is:
- I will document and keep any evidence of physical abuse (ripped clothes, photos of bruises and injuries, etc). I can keep this evidence with someone I trust. That person is:
- I will keep important items with someone I trust.
- I will plan the safest time to get away.
- I will contact a shelter to find out about laws and other resources available to help me before I have to use them. A shelter can help you further plan ways to protect yourself and your children and find the support you need. For a list of shelters and resources in Collin County, click here.
- I will file a police report and consider getting a restraining order if I feel that my children and I are in danger. A restraining order legally compels the abuser to stay away from you or s/he can be arrested. Be aware that papers filed for a restraining order or police report may become public record. Put only necessary information in the papers and only provide a post office box address. (Note: Some abusers may react to a restraining order by escalating the violence. It is important to consider what the safest option is for you before obtaining a restraining order. A shelter or agency can help you assess these options.)