During a violent episode, you need to think and act quickly to ensure your safety and that of your children. Here are a few steps you can take in advance to help ensure your safety:
- Warn the neighbors in case you need to send your children to them; ask them to call the police if they hear the start of a violent altercation.
- Talk to people you trust about your situation. Agree on a secret code word with them that you will use to alert them when you are in danger and they should immediately call the police. You can also choose a code word with your children so they can protect themselves during a violent episode.
- Make sure you can pick up your clothes and belongings and those of your children quickly. If your partner then asks you what you’re doing, give a reason, like “I’m cleaning” or “I’m getting the kids’ clothes ready for tomorrow morning”.
- Avoid areas where knives or firearms are stored.
- Walk through every room in your home and imagine how you can escape. Do everything you can to avoid dead-end rooms in the presence of your partner.
- Find the best places to escape on the first floor, second floor and basement.
- You can aid your children in escaping by specifying a designated meeting place where you can all regroup. Teach them how to dial 9-1-1 in case of emergencies (accidents, harm to themselves or you, or if they feel in danger).
- Always trust your judgment and intuition. If the situation becomes very dangerous, you need to think ahead about how to calm your aggressor.
- Review and check your safety plan regularly.
- Always remember that your priority is your safety and that of your children.
How to organize? What to bring?
In a context of domestic violence, it is important to plan the actions to take to ensure your safety. If you’re considering leaving your home, even temporarily, you can prepare in advance by doing a number of things:
- Keep a suitcase, box or bag where you can access it quickly and easily. As far as possible, you should put the following objects in it:
- A duplicate set of keys for the apartment or house as well as for the car.
- Cash, so you can take a cab or make a phone call.
- Your identity documents: passport, social insurance card, birth certificates (yours and your children’s), marriage certificate, immigration file, citizenship card, native status card, legal documents of all kinds concerning you, your couple and your children, etc.
- Your driver’s license and proof of registration.
- Your health insurance card and your vaccination record, as well as those of your children.
- Your bank books, checks, credit cards, and documents concerning the mortgage or other bank loans.
- Your lease, title deeds, partnership or business agreements, rent or mortgage payment receipts, or copies of these documents.
- School reports and diplomas.
- Your address book.
- Valuables and receipts from your own property.
- A photo of your spouse or ex-spouse to help identify him or her.
- A list of other items that you can come back for later.
- Make sure that your purse, wallet, identity papers, keys and other emergency items are in a place that only you know and that is easy and quick for you to access in case you need to leave the house in a hurry.
- Open a separate bank account in your own name and have bank statements sent to another address (a friend or family member), so that your spouse can’t see them.
- Check how much money is in your joint account, in case you need to withdraw half of it quickly.