Hidden Hurt Domestic Abuse Information

Keeping Safe in Abusive Relationships or while trying to leave

Keeping safe in an abusive relationship or while leaving a place where you suffer domestic violence is vitaly importatnt. The news weekly bears witness to this. Where there are various tests and assessments which can be carried out by professionals working in the field of reducing domestic violence, it has generally been found that the victim themselves has the most realistic gut feeling about the lengths their abuser might go to to harm them. Trust your gut instinct.

Whether you decide at this stage to stay or to leave, you need to ensure your own safety and that of any dependent children living with you. The following are a few pointers towards avoiding or dealing with a domestic violence incident, your abuser and keeping yourself safe:

In an Emergency

If you are at home and you are being threatened or attacked:

  • Stay away from the kitchen (the abuser can find weapons, like knives, there)
  • Stay away from small rooms or spaces where the abuser can trap you
  • Get to a room with a door or window in case you get a chance to escape
  • Get to a room with a telephone so that you can call for help, if possible lock your abuser out
  • Call 999 and ask for the Police
  • Ensure a friend or neighbour knows about the abuse in case you need to call them or stay with them
  • If a Police Officer comes, tell him/her what happened and ensure you are not left alone with the abuser
  • Get medical help if you are hurt or injured
  • Take photos of the bruises or injuries
  • Call the Domestic Violence Hotline, your local Domestic Violence Unit at the Police Station, Women's Aid or a local Shelter and ask them to help you make a safety plan

How to Protect Yourself at Home

If you still live with your abuser or he/she has regular access to your home:

  • Find out where you can get help. Learn the telephone numbers off by heart
  • Try to ensure there is a lockable room with a telephone inside, or, even better, buy yourself a mobile phone and keep it on you at all times
  • Plan an escape route out of your home and teach it to your children
  • Work out where or to whom you could go if you needed to escape
  • Pack a bag with important things you would need if you had to leave quickly; put it in a safe place, or better, give it to a friend or neighbour. Include cash, car keys and important documents such as passport or birth certificates, medical records and medicines, immigration papers, money and your car keys.
  • Take a good self-defence course
  • Keep a diary of every incident that occurs

If your abuser no longer lives in your home or does not have regular access to it:

  • Ask for an ex-directory telephone number
  • Use an answering machine and don't answer the call until you know who is calling
  • Ask your neighbours to call the Police if they see the abuser at your house; arrange a signal for them to call the Police, for example, if the phone rings twice, a curtain is closed or a light is on
  • If you have a Court Order preventing the abuser from being in your house keep it accessible - the Police will need to see it if they are called
  • Never answer the door unless you know who is the other side

How to Keep your Children Safer

  • Teach them not to get involved in a fight, even if they want to help you
  • Teach them how to get to safety, to call 999, to give your address and phone number to the Police
  • Teach them whom to call for help
  • Tell them to keep out of the kitchen
  • If you have a Court Order, give a copy to the school, playgroup, etc. (it may be a good idea to give them a photo of your abuser so they can identify him)
  • Ask the school, etc. not to release the children to anyone bar yourself unless they confirm with you first

How to Protect Yourself Outside the Home & At Work

  • Change your regular travel habits
  • Try to get lifts to and from work with someone else rather than travelling alone
  • Do your shopping etc. in different places
  • Cancel any bank accounts or credit cards you shared and open new accounts at a different bank or branch
  • If you have a Court Order, keep it with you at all times, together with any emergency numbers
  • Buy a mobile phone, program it to 999, and keep it on you at all times
  • If you have a Court Order preventing you abuser from entering your place of work, give a copy to your employer
  • Give a photo of your abuser to the security staff and/or receptionist so they can identify him/her
  • Never go to lunch on your own
  • Ask a colleague to accompany you to your car or bus (and wait with you)
  • Carry an emergency alarm (available from your local DV Police DV unit)
  • If your abuser calls or emails you at work, save any mails or voice messages, make a note of the date and time

Safety at the Court

  • Ask a friend or relative to go with you to the Hearing and stay in the waiting area with you
  • Lots of Court Rooms have separate waiting areas or smaller rooms off the main waiting area - ask to have one reserved for you or try to get there early
  • Ask your solicitor or a Court Official to accompany you to your car after the Hearing
  • Try to sit as far away from your abuser as possible; you don't have to talk to him/her or his family or friends
  • More and more Courts now have separate entrance and exits for victims of DV, find out whether the Court you are attending does before the Court date
  • Contact Victim Support Services, they may be able to give you a tour of the Court and can also provide someone to stay with you on the day

Children and Contact

  • Always arrange to hand over the kids or collect them in a public place
  • Ask a friend or relative to go with you
  • If possible, arrange to drop the children off and collect them from a third party
  • If you are living in a Refuge, NEVER ask your abuser to collect the children from there
  • Ensure specific times and places are agreed for contact, if possible via a solicitor or Court Order
  • Ensure the children know when you are meant to be collecting them


American Bar Be Safe Guide

Return from Keeping Safe in Abusive Relationships to Domestic Violence Articles

In This Section:

Related Pages:


Recommended Reading:

Bullied: A Survivor's Handbook for People Affected by Domestic Violence, School Bullying and Work Place Bullying by Neville Evans

Domestic Violence Sourcebook, The (Sourcebooks) by Dawn Bradley Berry

In Love and in Danger: A Teen's Guide to Breaking Free of Abusive Relationships by Barrie Levy


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