Plan for safety
Know the easiest escape routes from the house, doors, windows
- Plan a safe place to stay in advance that is known only to yourself and your children
- Identify a neighbour you can tell about the violence and ask them to ring the police if they hear a disturbance coming from your house. Develop some sort of a code or signal between you where they will know you are in danger.
- Keep the 24 hour refuge referral number (1800 811 811) in a place that is easy to find.
During a violent incident you must do everything you can to avoid serious injury this may include:
- Leaving the situation if possible
- Keeping your mobile phone with you
- Call the Police as soon as it is safe to report the incident. The police can also arrange safe accommodation for you and your children.
Safety planning with your children
- It is important that children have a safety plan so they know what to do if violence occurs
- Tell children they must NOT try to intervene if there is violence
- Decide ahead of time on a safe place where children can hide or run to when they feel unsafe
- Teach your children who to ring for help and where the phone numbers are so they can find them easily
- Teach children to Ring Police on 000 and rehearse with them what to say in advance
- Teach children their full name and their address.
- Give children permission to get help from neighbors or others if needed.
- Make a list of people the children can trust and talk to if they are feeling unsafe (neighbors, teachers, relatives, friends).
Safety during separation
If you are considering leaving an abusive relationship it is important that you plan where you could go to be safe such as friends, family or a women’s refuge, always try to take the children with you. Leaving can be the most dangerous time for you and your children, always consider your safety when planning to leave.
Keep a small amount of cash, mobile phone to make emergency calls, key cards, house keys, essential medications and important papers together in a place where you can get them quickly or have someone else retrieve them. You may wish to have a copy of these left with someone you trust. If you do leave you can request the Police to accompany you back to the house to retrieve your personal possessions. Do not put your safety at risk to retrieve property or possessions.
Make your own list of personal papers you need to take with you, this may include:
- Birth certificates
- Marriage certificate
- Domestic Violence Protection Order
- Family Court Orders
- Passports for yourself and children
- Drivers licence
- Insurance policies
- Taxation, employment and Income documents
- Centre link card or number
- Medicare card or number
- Bank account numbers and statements
- Bank Cards, cheque books, credit cards
- Department of Immigration & Citizenship documentation
- Medical records
- Arrange your transport in advance; a lift from a friend or book a taxi
- Ask your doctor to note any injuries on your patient records
- Only tell your plans to friends and family you are sure you can trust.
Staying safe after separation
Domestic and family violence can continue long after the relationship has ended. To increase your safety consider the following:
- Inform your children’s school and /or child care centre who has permission to collect your children, if you have a Domestic Violence Order and / or a Family Court Orders, a copy may be left with the school/child care centre.
- If your ex-partner breaches the Protection Order, telephone the Police and report the breach, ask to speak to the DVLO (Domestic Violence Liaison Officer). If you don’t receive the help you need contact a legal service for assistance.
- Change all your bank accounts, pin numbers and internet banking access codes.
- Arrange for your mail to be redirected to a post office box instead of your new address if you have moved.
- Create a new email address
- Contact the Australian Electoral Commission and ask for your name and address to be excluded from the published electoral role.
- Set your mobile with a PIN. Set it to lock after one or two minutes without use.
- Don’t use mobile phone apps that tell you where friends are or ‘check you in’.
- Disable Geo-location services in any camera apps and your mobile phone settings.
- Turn off bluetooth visibility to prevent your device being located and protect your data.
- Get a cheap mobile to make sensitive calls or when you are going to a sensitive location pre-program any numbers you might need in an emergency; including the Police and DVConnect (24 Hour Crisis Line).
- Make sure that your phone is set to hide your number through caller ID.
- Delete all online accounts and create new anonymous ones.
- Arrange for your phone line to have calling number display/caller id and arrange for a private unlisted number for yourself.
- Increase security on your house or unit by installing sensor lights outside.
- Look at ways you can increase safety when you park your car and entering your home,
e.g. an automatic garage door opener, safety lighting, or removal of shrubs or trees in the area.
- Change the locks on your house and ensure the windows are secure. Have security chains fitted to all entry doors and make sure they are used at all times when the door is answered by you or your children.
- Tell neighbours that your partner does not live with you and ask them to call the police if he is seen near your house, or if they hear an assault occurring.
- If you leave with a car ensure there are no tracking devices fitted to the vehicle.
- Contact an auto electrician for deactivation.
- Vary your travel routes to and from work. Keep a map handy and pre plan routes in unknown areas to prevent you from having to leave your vehicle.
- Tell your employer that you have a protection order, or that you are afraid of your ex-partner, and ask for your telephone calls at work to be screened.
- If possible try not to visit places where you used to go, use different shops and banks to those you used previously.
Computer and Internet safety
- Protect your computer with a password
- Log off or lock the screen even if you are leaving only for a few minutes
- Delete your internet history to prevent others from discovering your Internet activities
- Use safe computer e.g. public library, a friend’s house, or at your workplace
- Recognise that social networking sites are not secure and can be a way for an abuser to find out information about you.
Consider the following:
- Deactivate your account (you can always activate it again later when safe).
- Create a new account in a false name with a generic photo and only tell close friends.
- Explain to your friends and family that you are at risk and ask them to set their privacy settings to ‘friends only’. Ask them not to accept friend requests from people they don’t know. Request they do not post information or photos about you online and never to give out your phone number or address.