Think of past abuse and identify the warning signs that your abuser is about to get violent. When you see these warning signs take action to protect yourself.
Know all your escape routes - doors, windows, fire escapes, elevators, stairways, etc. Practice how to get out safely and practice with your children.
Plan where you will go if you have to leave.
Devise a code word/physical signal to use with your children, neighbors or friends to let them know you need the police.
Plan with your children and identify a safe place for them - a room with a lock or friend or neighbor's house where they can go for help. Make sure they understand that it is their job to get to safety and not to protect you.
Try to keep a phone with you. Call 911, a friend or a neighbor. Inform them of any weapons in the home.
Keep the car fueled up and backed into the driveway, if possible. Keep the driver's door unlocked and other doors locked in case you need to get away quickly.
If an incident seems unavoidable, move to a room or area with access to exits - not a bathroom, kitchen, or an area near weapons.
If violence erupts, make yourself as small a target as possible: dive into a corner and curl up into a ball with your face protected and your arms on either side of your head, fingers entwined.
Try not to wear scarves or long jewelry that could be used to strangle you.
Trust your judgements and your instincts. Consider what will keep you safe so you can figure out what to do next. It may be best to leave or to placate the abuser - whatever will keep you and your children safe.
Make a plan for how you will leave. You may want to leave when it is least expected, like during times of agreement and calm. Note: be cautious when using computers to research and plan your escape.
Know where you can get help. Tell someone what is happening to you.
Open a savings account and/or credit card in your own name to establish or increase your independence. Think of other ways in which you can increase your independence.
Leave money, an extra set of keys, copies of important documents, extra 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 if need be.
Pack a bag with money, copies of house and car keys, medicine, and copies of important papers such as birth certificates, social security cards, immigration documents, court orders, and health insurance information. The bag could also include extra clothes, important phone numbers, or other things you might need if you had to leave your home in a hurry. Make sure the bag is in a safe yet easily accessible place such as at a trusted friend’s or family member’s home.
Keep shelter or hotline numbers close at hand and keep some change or a calling card on you at all times for emergency phone calls.
Tell your co-worker(s), boss and/or office or building security about your situation. Provide a picture of your abuser if possible.
Arrange to have an answering machine, caller ID or co-worker screen your telephone calls if possible.
Devise a safety plan for when you leave work. Have someone escort you to your car or bus, and wait with you until you are safely on your way. Use a variety of routes to go home if possible. Think about what you would do if something happened while going home.
Go to different grocery stores, businesses, and banks if possible. If this is not possible, change the time and day which you go shopping.
Center of Hope was founded in 1989 shortly after the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence determined that there was a need for emergency shelter and counseling for victims of domestic violence in Maury County.
Beginning as a grassroots movement in Columbia, Maury County’s largest city, Center of Hope first came about when the Columbia Business and Professional Women’s Association (BPW) teamed together with the Coalition to bring services to local victims of domestic violence.