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A safety plan is important to think about when a survivor is ready to leave their abuser. Part I of this article talked about what to pack in the bag that a survivor should take with them, if there’s time. Next, it is important to think about how to get out of your home safely.
The following are eight important points to keep in mind when you're ready to escape your abuser.
1. Practice different ways to get out if you have to leave in a hurry, or if you have to leave while your abusive partner is at home.
2. Think about any weapons in the house and ways you could possibly get them out of the house before you leave.
3. Consider what time of day is best to leave. If you can leave when your abuser is not at home, this is the safest option. If you can’t, then think about alternative times to leave, such as when you’re taking out the trash, walking the family pet or going to the store. Again, practice these scenarios.
4. Think about four places you could go. These may include a domestic violence shelter that you can locate through DomesticShelters.org, the house of a trusted friend or coworker that the abuser does not know or another safe location, such as a hotel or shelter, in a different city.
5. Throw your abuser off your trail. The Domestic Violence Hotline suggests survivors may consider creating a false trail, if there’s time. To do this, you can call motels, real estate agencies and schools in towns that are at least six hours away from where you’re planning to go. Ask questions that require them to call you back at your house so that your abuser may believe this is where you’re going.
6. Don't underestimate your abuser. Abusers are intent on controlling survivors' lives. When abusers feel a loss of control, such as when a victim leaves, the abuse can increase. This is why it’s especially important to take extreme cautions before and after leaving. If possible, secure an order of protection. Make sure your phone hasn't been hacked by your abuser. If it's feasible, consider acquiring a new cell phone so you cannot be traced. If you can't afford one, see if you can borrow one from a friend for a while. Take steps to protect your identity. Consider changing your children’s schools and, if you can, change your work hours. If you’re staying in the same city, use different stores and frequent different social spots.
8. Finally, don’t hesitate to call 911 if you feel you are in danger at any point during or after you leave.
Are there kids in the house, too? Read, "Getting Kids Out of Harm's Way" for more vital information about leaving with children.
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