Hidden Hurt Domestic Abuse Information

Safety Planning in Abusive Relationships

In an abusive relationship your Personal Safety is at risk. Safety Planning is a must. The abuser's JEKYLL and HIDE personality is unpredictable at first, however the longer you stay, the more predictable it may become.

It is important to try and see a pattern, what triggers the abuser to act in a particular way. In essence this form of personal flexibility (you are adapting to his outburst's) becomes a subtle form of control (you are changing your behaviour because of his abusive behaviour). Please don't become stubborn, remember planning your safety allows you to have an element of flexibility and control. You are managing an abusive situation and successfully stopping more physical abuse.

It's easier to try and control the physical signs of abuse, but the abuser is making you feel hurt and upset inside. The emotional damage is unseen. The articles on Recovering from Abuse - Shifting Perspective and Using Meditation to Heal Emotions, can hopefully help you to deal with the emotional tourmoil encountered in abusive relationships.

What Happens To Us When We Are Confronted With Violence?

When we are confronted with the threat of violence we can become scared or angry. You will notice many swirling feelings within your body. You may feel extremely nervous with butterflies in your stomach. Some people feel sick and paralysed with fear. All these feelings are perfectly normal. This is an aspect of fear called the fight or flight response. Evolution has prepared you for the threat of violence. Your prehistoric brain has developed a natural response to the threat of violence. Thousands of years ago our ancestors relied on this response daily. Our ancestors had to avoid predators and fight with warring tribes. Your body is preparing to run or fight.

Unfortunately the threat of violence is still with us today, however, it is small when we compare it to what our ancestors had to go through. Our brain transmits messages to the adrenal glands. These special glands release adrenaline. The hormone adrenaline is a special transmitter and travels around the body in an instant. It makes your heart beat quicker, your breathing rate increases, you become stronger and your tolerance to pain increases. Your reactions become faster and you can run and jump further. You are ready for action.

Sometimes when our bully torments us this natural reaction can have the reverse effect. You may become more agitated and stressed. Sometimes this can make the situation worse. If you feel yourself getting uptight and nervous take some deep breaths and say to yourself, "It is normal to feel like this." You will remain calmer.

Fear is only natural, as such try and control your anger and remain receptive to the events unfolding in front of you.

What Is Happening To The Bully Prior To Becoming Violent?

The bully at this point is going through a period of intense anger. The bully loses all mental control. His mind is making the situation worse. He is repeating and re-living all the anger in his mind. The bully is like a hamster in a wheel - he is going around and around, but not getting anywhere. However, if you remain calm in a confrontational situation you are in control. Being able to think is the key to diffusing conflict and avoiding violence.

To order in the UK:
Bullied: A Survivor's Handbook for People Affected by Domestic Violence, School Bullying and Work Place Bullying
To order in the US:
Bullied: A Survivor's Handbook for People Affected by Domestic Violence, School Bullying and Work Place Bullying

How do I recognise the stages of confrontation?

Situational Awareness

Keep your head up and look around you. Every now and again look behind you. Gather information, and use your eyes and ears.

The Stare

The bully will hold his stare across the room, and is looking for you to catch his gaze. This stage of awareness is an opportunity for you to avoid confrontation. Do not make it obvious but keep a watch over the bully.

confrontation building up

The Question

If you have been indecisive and have not avoided the bully, you are ready for the next stage of confrontation. Your bully is going to project his feelings of inadequacy onto you and make you the problem. He will say, "HAVE YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH ME?" What he is really saying is, "I am insecure, and I have a problem with you." Be aware that at this stage he has already planned to attack you. He may attack you verbally or physically depending on the circumstances.

The Body Language

His body language will change as the situation escalates. Even at the first stage look for the vital signs of body language that demonstrates violence. Communication is mostly through body language.

He will get closer to you. His chest will be inflated like a balloon, and his arms will puff outwards like a bird. He will stand tall and appear robotic. When he talks he will use his hands and point in a stabbing motion. His face will redden and his eyes will bulge, and his teeth may show. His jaw will tighten and he will appear bigger. He will constantly look around. He may stamp the floor.

The Provocation

Here it becomes increasingly tense. The bully will mutter words like, "Yeah, yeah, so, so." At this stage it will be almost impossible to communicate with them. What the bully is doing is target picking. He's looking at your body and deciding when and where he is going to attack you. The provocation can last some time depending on the bully. A violent bully will build up to this stage in a matter of split seconds. He will also swear at you.

The Attack

The distance between you and the bully will shorten and he may look for a sign of attacking opportunity, this will depend your own body language.

The majority of attackers are right-handed and right-footed. Do you know if your bully is right or left handed? In most cases your bully is going to throw a right hand hooking punch to the head. This isn't always the case as some like to grab and pull your hair.

What Can I Do About It?

You cannot change a bully, only a bully can do that. You have to adapt to the bully's behaviour and make quick decisions.

Situational Awareness

Keep your head up and look around you, and every now and again look behind you. Gather information, and use your eyes and ears. Anticipate problems before they arise. Think Safety PLAN. Think VULNERABILITY.

The Stare

It is absolutely normal to avoid confrontation and aggression. If you don't want to fight or argue, then avoid the bully and leave the area. There are many factors to consider at this stage. Is he bigger and more aggressive than you? Has he been drinking alcohol? Does he have a history of violence? If your sixth sense starts to answer, "yes", to these questions. Prepare yourself. Do you have a panic alarm handy? Where is your defence spray? Where are you going to run?

Consider The Cheap Shot

The abuser may try and entice you into what is called the cheap shot. What they will do is ask a stupid question and then attack you. (This is a technique that distracts and confuses you).

For example:

Bully : What's the time?
Abused : Looks at her watch and is distracted
Bully: Attacks, and slaps you across the face.

Bully : Let me stroke your hair, I am sorry I did those things.
Abused : Guard is dropped,
Bully: Attacks and pulls her hair.

Bully : You look really sexy when you stand like that.
Abused : Stands in a vulnerable position
Bully: Attacks easily.

The Question

If your bully comes close, then step away, keep your hands up, and turn your palms outwards. Stand at a 45 degree angle, tuck your chin in and talk at a distance. Move side to side when talking to them. Say to them firmly "NO, I don't WANT TROUBLE. I don't WANT TO FIGHT." don't turn your back on them and keep to the wall. Appear to give into them. Remember that by complying with their rules you are giving them a sense of control. You are also playing for time and preparing to respond.

avoiding confrontation

The Body Language

Appear non-confrontational and keep your hands and palms facing outwards. This is a ploy as it tells the bully you are not willing to fight and gives them a sense of power. Tell them what they want to hear and keep on saying it even if it is, "I am sorry, I am sorry." Give them power.

Many women, who have been beaten by their partners, say sometimes it is best to say very little. By saying very little you do not add to the problem (in his mind). Every case is different and you will be the best person to decide.

The Provocation

Do not argue and try to remain calm. Keep well away from them. They are dangerous but you have options: you can run away, you can activate your panic alarm, spray them with defence spray, or you can attack.

The Attack

If you are getting attacked keep moving away from them. Cover your face and try and protect yourself. Do not let them get too close. Keep on shouting, "HELP, HELP, STOP, STOP."

Now that I have given an explanation of the stages of a violent confrontation, consider the following safety planning advice.

  • don't drink alcohol together - The probability of a violent attack increases. If he insists, try and pour some lemonade into your drink. Alcohol reduces your ability to run, fight and escape.
  • You cannot reason with a drunk person, don't try and tell him what to do, if he is starting to pick on you, make the decision for him and get out of his way. I have spent hundreds of hours pleading with drunk people, it doesn't work.
  • Keep him fed and watered. Why on earth would someone tell me do this? Simply, physiological stress has a major impact on the brain. If someone has the abusing personality and he is hungry and drunk, the probability of violence increases ten fold. If he is drinking alcohol, make sure he eats something too. It will stop him from getting really drunk. It may help you.
  • Plan your safety around sporting events. If he is a football fan, consider when his team are playing. When the abuser's team wins, the probability of violence, believe it or not increases. If he is going drinking all day with the lads plan to stay with a family member or close friend. In Wales on match day (six nations rugby), incidents of Domestic Violence increase by 35%!
  • Pack a getaway suitcase and include all the family essentials: money, passports, birth certificates, cheque book, bank cards, identification, keys for your house, keys for work, legal documents, prescription drugs, clothing, benefit books and your driving licence. In extreme cases get copies of these important documents.
  • Teach your children to call 999 in an emergency.howsar quick lock
  • don't stay and face the violence. Seek help from a friend or neighbour, and get the children out of the house.
  • Consider purchasing a How Sar Quick Lock (available from Amazon in the UK). This handy lock will give you time to get away. The portable lock allows you to lock a door in a short amount of time. Employ a diversionary tactic first "I am putting some make up on" or "I am getting you a beer from the fridge". Lock the escape door and get out of the house.
  • Keep your mobile on you at all times and make sure it has sufficient credit. You can get a prefix security number for your phone. For example if you press and hold 3, then your mobile will ring 999 or a security company. Another good idea, is to silently ring 999, keep the phone off the receiver and if he gets near to you start shouting. Police forces in the UK will respond immediately to such incidents.
  • Add in your mobile phone a list of useful telephone numbers e.g. solicitor, doctor, crisis centre, etc. Put these contacts under your friends' names.
  • There are also imitation keep-safes on the market, that will allow you to stash money etc. For example Solon Security make an imitation candle holder that doubles as a safety box.
  • Find the details of your nearest sheltered accommodation or crisis centre.


  • If he is becoming aggressive then stay away from the kitchen and garage. There are many implements that could be used as weapons and cause serious injury. I remember a case when a man threw a hot scolding kettle at his partner.
  • It sounds silly but put things away, e.g. children's toys, they may prevent you from escaping and they can also be used as weapons.
  • Ornaments can also be dangerous e.g. It's amazing how many people own samurai swords etc.
  • Animals can seriously add to a violent household, for example pit bull dogs get very agitated in violent encounters. They pose a very real risk to all your family.
  • don't go upstairs because many women are thrown down them. Avoid places where you could be trapped as he may lock you inside.
  • You're vulnerable when you are combing your hair, using hair straighteners or cleaning with acid based products.

The Law And The Use Of Reasonable Force

The law in the UK allows you to defend yourself with reasonable force, which is force that is proportional to the threat that you are faced with. This is a subjective idea that depends on the individual circumstances. In basic terms if you are faced with one attacker, who is throwing punches at you, and you retaliate with a hard punch and you put your attacker to the floor, and then you run away, you are acting with reasonable force. If you stayed at the scene and continued to attack, you could be acting outside the law. Remember the law protects both of you and does not take sides.

Article kindly provided by Neville Evans of Bullied Publishing, all writing is subject to copy write, however please feel free to disseminate to any person in need.

Other Articles by Neville Evans on this site:

Return from Safety Planning in Abusive Relationships to Abuse Victims

In This Section:

Related Pages:

Keeping Safe in Abusive Relationships

Recommended Reading:

Why Does He Do That?: Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft

Living with the Dominator: A Book About the Freedom Programme by Pat Craven

Controlling People: How to Recognize, Understand and Deal with People Who Try to Control You by Patricia Evans

Neville Evans is a police constable in South Wales, UK, with many years of policing experience, helping and guiding victims of bullying, domestic violence and other hate crime. This comprehensive and easy to read book for victims and survivors of such crimes provides practical suggestions on keeping safe, responding to bullying and aggressive behaviour and guides us through the mass of helpful agencies, including filing police reports and court appearances. A MUST read for anyone currently stuck in an abusive relationship, recently escaped, being stalked and for friends and family trying to provide support:

To order in the US: The UK bullying and hate crime handbook

To order in the UK: The UK bullying and hate crime handbook

Click on the donate botton below to support Hidden Hurt. Thanks you.

UK National Domestic Violence Freephone number 0808 2000 247

ADD TO YOUR SOCIAL BOOKMARKS: add to BlinkBlink add to Del.icio.usDel.icio.us add to DiggDigg
add to FurlFurl add to GoogleGoogle add to SimpySimpy add to SpurlSpurl Bookmark at TechnoratiTechnorati add to YahooY! MyWeb

Hidden Hurt Home | Hidden Hurt Sitemap | Contact Us

Copyright© 2002 - 2015 Hidden Hurt.
Return to top


Work From Home With SBI!