Before you continue, please consider the following questions:
- Do you have exclusive access to your personal computer or smartphone?
- Do you know a secret place to hide documents and money?
- Do you have someone you trust when you are ready to leave?
All these questions are vital factors to consider when making a safety plan to leave an abusive relationship, especially if your partner is physically or financially abusive. If you suspect that your partner invades your phone privacy often, use these tips for improving phone privacy.
If you have important papers and identification documents, hide them where your abusive partner cannot find them. If you cannot store them at home, consider keeping them with your lawyer or renting a safety deposit box for short-term use. Meanwhile, keep the contact of a trusted friend on speed dial. Again, they must be someone you trust enough to share your safety plan with and trust to keep the information to themselves, and especially from your partner.
What Is A Safety Plan
A safety plan is a roadmap for your actions once you decide to leave your abusive partner. It contains information such as:
- Where you are going
- What you will need
- Who can help you along the way
- How to contact your support system
Most people create a safety plan off-hand and mentally simulate the scenario several times until they have a clear picture. While this a great way to ensure your abusive partner does not find out your plan, it is not infallible. Emotions such as stress, anxiety, and pressure may cause you to make mistakes. Another thing to do is write your plans on paper. But it would be best if you know how to write in a secret language.
Even at that, do not store all the information on one paper in one place. Alternatively, there is using a text editor on your smartphone and secure the document with a password. The significant problem here would be losing your phone. A solution to make a cloud backup accessible on another device. The best option would be a combination of all three.
Putting A Safety Plan Together
Make copies of important documents and store them in a safe place, separate from where you kept the originals. Also, hide the originals someplace else. These include but are not limited to passports, birth certificates, citizenship papers, immigration papers, and licenses. Others include your prescriptions, medical records, education records, work permits, marriage certificate, divorce papers, and other legal documents.
Keep copies of your essential cards in a wallet and keep the originals somewhere safe. These cards include social security card, credit cards, bank cards, and health insurance cards.
Try to keep your wallet or purse containing copies of your important documents handy. Other things to keep in the purse include keys to the car, home, and deposit box, driver’s license, picture of your partner and children, emergency cash (hidden away), a cell phone, and extra medication if you need one. Also, have a list of your support network, their contact information, and their purpose.
Acting On Your Safety Plan
If your partner becomes violent, remember that calling 9-1-1 is toll-free.
Also, you only need important documents and essential items to leave your abusive spouse. These should be in the wallet or purse you have prepared for this purpose.
If you have children, please take them with you at the time of leaving, or you would need a court order to remove them from their other parent’s custody.
You must leave with basic items because the police or friends can always escort you back to remove additional personal belongings for you and your children later.
When acting on your plan, know that your safety and that of your loved ones are the most important.
Keeping Your Plan Safe
An abusive partner who has access to your computer may see what websites you have visited or read messages. To prevent this, clear your browser cache and history as soon as you finish browsing. This way, your computer does not keep a list of the sites you have visited.
However, be careful if you share a personal computer or smartphone with your abuser. If they see that you have cleared their cache and history too, they may become angry and physically violent. Worse still, they may become suspicious and track your internet activity.
The best way to avoid such a scenario is using a computer that they cannot access, e.g., a computer at a library, school, internet café, friend’s house, or work.