If you are experiencing abuse and seeking help or information online, be careful about who can see either the page you are on, or your search history. Our website and other reputable DA websites have an “escape button” that with one click takes you away from the domestic abuse page and on to something innocuous.
We would recommend not using any site that does not have this instant escape button.
Please see our internet safety advice for further information on disguising your online searches
In an emergency always ring 999.
Top Safety Tips:
- Don’t be ashamed, this is not your fault! If possible, let your neighbours, know what is going on, so that they can be looking out for you and can raise alerts for you when it may be unsafe for you to do so. The more people aware of what is going on and looking out for you; the safer you are. While you may feel alone, you don’t have to do this alone.
- You are the expert in your own situation. Trust your instincts. If you are feeling afraid, you are probably right to be afraid and you have already been creating strategies that keep you safe. Think about your strengths and the support sources you already have in your life: do you have friends who might help? What can you build on to increase your safety and wellbeing at this time?
- Take things one day at a time, one step at a time. Living with domestic abuse and possibly making plans to leave can be overwhelming, especially if you have children to keep safe. Small daily steps will move you steadily towards your goal.
- If there is a time when your abuser goes out for daily exercise try to arrange to leave an emergency pack of the things you will need if you decide to leave with a trusted neighbour or friend. You could perhaps do this during your own exercise period, or you could place a packed bag on yours or your neighbour’s path, or pop it over their fence, and they could pick it up and hide it immediately.
- This packed bag should include: your passport/driving license and other ID, bank paperwork, any benefits paperwork, birth certificates for you and your children, NHS/NI cards, marriage/divorce certificates etc, any money you have managed to obtain, a change of clothing; if you have young children, one or two favourite toys, nappies etc. Having this secret stache of essential equipment will make it easier for you to leave at any time as you will be able to leave without taking anything with you, and so leave quicker and more safely. It may also help you emotionally to know that you have a plan, and the escape bag is there if needed. You may never need it, but a planned departure is always easier and safer than leaving in a rush during an emergency situation.
- If possible, it is good to obtain a “secret phone” from a friend/family member. This is a phone that you can hide and use in an emergency if your partner is monitoring or controlling your use of your own phone. Hiding a spare set of car keys can also be helpful.
- If you have an opportunity to speak to friends, family or neighbours without being overheard, it is fine to arrange a secret code word with them that if you use it in future, they will know you are at risk and need immediate help – and they can call 999 for you. However, it is very important that your abuser is not aware of the code word.
- If you need to leave this may be possible during your daily exercise, but does not need to be at that time. It is legal and acceptable for you to break the covid-19 regulations and leave your home at any time if you or your family are in danger.
- Regular check-ins area good idea. If possible, let trusted friends/family/work colleagues/boss know your routine – is there a time of day when it is safest for them to call you? Is there a specific time of day when you usually take your daily walk? Ask them to call you to check you are Ok, or to take their daily walk at the same time and check-in with one another at a social distance. Let them know to raise the alarm if you are not where you said you would be at a certain time. Checking in with you regularly will help friends, neighbours, or your boss if you’re working from home, to watch out for you and to know when to raise concerns.
At all times be safety-conscious – only do those steps above that it is safe for you to do.
- Think about safety within your own home. Plan a safe exit route if you did have to leave in a hurry, or if you were trying to get away from a violent episode. Make a safety plan – Where will you go? How can you leave safely? Who will you call?
- If you have children, where it is safe to do so, ensure that they also know this escape route and that they know to be ready to leave if you say so, or if you use the code word.
- Where it is safe to do so, talk to children honestly (at their own level) about what is going on and why you may need to leave. Never tell your abuser that you are thinking of leaving.
- Is there a room that you could lock yourself in for safety if necessary? (Do any of the bedrooms have locks?) Is there a room that has a large, low window you could exit from? Try to ensure your secret phone is kept in this room. Avoid rooms that have no exit (bottlenecks).
- Always avoid rooms like the kitchen or garage where there are items that can be used as weapons (knives, tools). Similarly be careful in bathrooms – although usually lockable, if you are pushed or shoved in a bathroom there is a high risk of injury if you fall against washbasins etc.
- Be aware of the high risk factors in domestic abuse. If your partner has ever placed his hands around your throat you are at increased risk. If he monitors you or there are elements of stalking-type behaviour. If there are step-children in the home. If he has ever abused animals or used weapons (a weapon is any object used to hurt you). If you recognise any of these warning signs you are at serious risk. Phone the police or if you have a safety plan in place, and can do so safely, leave.
- Try to make time for self-care. No one functions best when afraid, tired, stressed or panicky. These feelings are normal and understandable, but finding strategies that help you to stay calm and stop racing thoughts or anxiety will help your emotional well-being and help keep you safe. You may be using your daily exercise to think things through and make plans, but try also to use it as some “down time” away from the abuse. Take what breaks you can during the day. Keep up regular routines and remember to look after your basic needs: eat, shower, exercise. This will help your mental and emotional health and make you better able to protect yourself. If you are a parent, it is easy to focus all your worries on the children and forget to look after your own well-being, but keeping yourself as strong and healthy as possible is one of the biggest things you can do to help support and protect your children.
- Your abuser has probably been planting seeds that make you doubt yourself or that minimise and deny what is going on. Don’t listen to those voices. You are right to think what is happening is wrong. You are strong, you have already survived so much, and you can get through this. This happens to 1:3 women and 1:5 men. Many of us have survived and escaped abuse, we care about you, will believe you, and you will survive too. There is light at the end of the tunnel and there is life after abuse.