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Violence and Abuse

Safety Planning

Even if you are still in the situation and see no immediate way out, you can do the following to plan for your safety:

  • Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE. Memorize this number. Ask if your area has a local domestic violence hotline.

  • Become familiar with your state’s laws and legal policies on domestic violence. Find out about protection (restraining) orders, including how to get them and where to get an advocate if needed. To find out how to get this information, contact your local domestic violence hotline or shelter.

  • Build a support network. Get connected with your local battered women’s service, join a support group, and develop a network of friends.
  • Learn and watch for warning signs of your partner’s abusive behavior/attitude.

  • Teach your children how to call for emergency assistance.

  • Prepare a safety plan. Write it down, if you can keep it in a place the abuser cannot find. Let others you trust know your plans when appropriate.

  • If your abuser is using alcohol or drugs and you can get to Al-Anon meetings (see Chapter 3, "Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Mood-Altering Drugs"), you may gain support and strength from the meetings to make a change.

If you are not a U.S. citizen, you may still qualify for benefits as a victim of domestic violence. To locate an advocate or a lawyer in your community with expertise in immigrant victims’ issues, contact the Immigrant Women Program of Legal Momentum at 1-212-925-6635.

Making a safety plan while you are dealing with a violent partner can help in two ways. It can give you hope in what so often feels like a hopeless situation. It can also bring you closer to leaving a dangerous situation in a well-planned way. In many communities, battered women’s service organizations can help you develop a plan to increase your safety and that of your children.

There are alternatives to enduring domestic violence. More and more women are leaving violent partners and making new lives free of violence. Women everywhere have been organizing to help battered women leave abusive situations, provide shelter, and demand a more responsive legal system.

Excerpted from the 2005 edition of Our Bodies, Ourselves, © 2005, Boston Women's Health Book Collective.


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