It might seem overwhelming to prepare a safety plan when you wish to leave an abusive relationship. Here are some tips for those who are thinking about starting their path to a safer place:
- If it is safe to do so, always have a phone accessible and know what numbers to call for help, including friends or family and your local shelter. Know where the nearest public phone is located.
- Plan and practice with your children and identify a safe place where they can go during moments of crisis, like a room with a lock or a friend’s house.
- Back your car into your driveway when you park at home and ensure your gas is at a full tank. If possible, keep the driver’s door unlocked with the rest of the doors locked to allow for quick access to the vehicle.
- Let trusted friends and neighbors know about your situation and develop a plan and visual signal for when you might need their help. Give them clear instructions on who you do or do not want them to contact in moments of crisis, including law enforcement.
- When preparing to go to a shelter, if you can, call ahead to see what the shelter’s policies are. They can give you information on how they can help, and how to secure a space when it’s time to leave.
- Have a backup plan if your partner finds out about your plan.
- What to bring:
- Driver’s license or Ontario Photo Card
- Social insurance card
- Health card
- Birth certificate and children’s birth certificates
- Financial information
- Money and/or credit cards (in your name)
- Checking and/or savings account books
- Protective order, if applicable
- Copies of any lease or rental agreements or the deed to your home
- Car registration and insurance papers
- Health and life insurance papers
- Medical records for you and your children
- School records
- Work permits/passport/visas/immigration papers
- Any legal documents, including divorce and custody papers
- Marriage license
- Medications and refills (if possible)
- Emergency items, like food, bottles of water, and a first aid kit
- Multiple changes of clothes for you and your children
- Emergency money
- Address book
- Extra sets of house and car keys
- Pictures and sentimental items
- Valuable items, such as jewelry
- Safe cell phone, if necessary
- Numbers of your attorney, local domestic violence program or shelter, local doctor’s office and hospital, criminal legal resources, children’s school
You might want to consider keeping copies of these items at a friend’s place so it won’t raise suspicion if found by your abuser and in case your abuser decides to destroy these items as they may anticipate your plan to escape.
No matter the severity of your situation, just know that you are not overreacting or being drastic. Signs of abuse can begin to show up in small ways, so it’s important to be mindful, watchful and prepared at all costs. You are not alone. There is a world of support to help and encourage you through your circumstance.
For more information, please visit the Government of Canada website at: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/health-promotion/stop-family-violence/plan-your-safety.html