Protect and Prepare Yourself

  • Your abuser may have patterns to his abuse. Know how violent your abuser tends to get. Know any signs that show he’s about to become violent. Know how dangerous a situation may be for you and your children.
  • If it looks like violence may happen, try to leave if you can.
  • Know things that your abuser can use as a weapon. He may use sharp or heavy objects, like a hammer or an ice pick, to hurt you. Choking is particularly dangerous and can be life threatening.
  • Know where guns, knives, and other weapons are. If you can, lock them up or make them as hard to get to as you can.
  • Figure out “safe places” in your home – places where there aren’t weapons. If it looks like your abuser is about to hurt you, try to get to a safe place. Stay out of the kitchen, garage, or workshop. Try to avoid rooms with tile or hardwood floors.
  • Don’t run to where the children are. Your abuser may hurt them too.
  • If there’s no way to escape violence, make yourself a small target. Dive into a corner and curl up into a ball. Protect your face and put your arms around each side of your head, wrapping your fingers together.
  • If you can, always have a phone you can get to. Know the numbers to call for help. Know where the nearest pay phone is. Know your local battered women’s shelter number. Don’t be afraid to call the police or 911.
  • If you need help in a public place, yell “FIRE”. People respond more quickly to someone yelling “fire” than to any other cry for help.
  • Let friends and neighbors you trust know what is going on. Make a plan with them for when you need help. Have a signal, like flashing the lights on and off or hanging something out the window, to tell them you need help.
  • Teach your children how to get help. Tell them not to get involved if your abuser is hurting you. Plan a code word to let them know that they should get help or leave the house.
  • Practice how to get out safely. Practice with your children.
  • Plan for what you will do if your children tell your partner about your plan or if your partner finds out about your plan some other way.
  • Make a habit of backing the car into the driveway and having a full tank of gas. Keep the driver’s door unlocked and others locked — for a quick escape.
  • Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry. Your abuser could use these things to strangle you.
  • Create several reasons he’ll believe for leaving the house at different times of the day or night.
  • Call a domestic violence hotline from time to time to talk about your options and to talk to someone who understands you.
  • Tell your children that violence is never right, even when someone they love is being violent. Tell them that the violence isn’t their fault or your fault. Tell them that when anyone is being violent, it is important to keep safe.