Safety Planning

If you decide that it is time to leave a relationship where abuse has been taking place, it's best to plan your exit carefully. This is because abusers can become more dangerous or controlling when you tell them you're leaving, so careful planning and caution are very important. The process of deciding to leave and making sure you are safe can be a long one and it may take several attempts to leave.

Do not threaten to leave. Separation is a high-risk period and advice should be sought from a specialist domestic abuse service for support if you're planning to leave a relationship.

It is also important to remember that ending the relationship may not necessarily end the abuse and that post separation abuse and stalking can happen. You are not alone in this and support is available.

General Considerations

Some things to consider when leaving an abusive relationship:

  • If you or someone else is in danger, please call the police on 999. If you can't speak then use the Silent Solution, dial 999 from a mobile, cough or make a noise and then press 55 when prompted by the operator
  • If you are deaf or can't communicate verbally, register with the emergency SMS service. Text REGISTER to 999. You will get a text telling you what to do next
  • Identify a support network. Who or where is a safe space to raise the alarm or get support
  • If you can, tell someone you trust what is happening and agree a code word so you can let them know you are safe or to signal you need them to call for help
  • Consider seeking advice from the Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA) service for guidance on leaving a relationship safely

Safety Planning Tips

  • Keep your phone charged and with you at all times and keep important/emergency telephone numbers handy (consider naming them as something non-threatening such as school, brow bar, dentist etc.)
  • If safe to do so, prepare an emergency bag and keep it in a safe place or with a trusted person. Useful contents could include:
    • Important documents e.g. ID, passports, birth certificates, driving license etc.
    • Keys
    • Essential clothing
    • Essential items e.g. toiletries, medications, cash/card and personal items
    • If you have children, all of the above for them
    • Documents relating to any benefits you receive, your health or property or vehicles owned
    • A recent photograph of the perpetrator which could be useful in the service of civil orders
    • Remember that you may not be able to return later to collect items
  • Check and update your passwords to:
    • Social media accounts
    • Banking
    • Email
    • Computer privacy and password settings
    • Other accounts such as delivery or streaming services
  • Think about your security, both at home (whether remaining in your home or moving property) and when out and about:
    • Smoke alarms
    • Door chain
    • Changing the locks and alarm codes
    • CCTV or a video doorbell
    • Personal alarms
  • If possible, try to set aside a small amount of money each week or open a separate bank account
  • Plan and practice your escape route(s) and think about where you would go if you needed to leave in a crisis.
  • Avoid rooms in the home where your perpetrator could access a weapon (kitchen, shed etc.) or where they could lock you in. Do you have a safe space in the home? Is there a phone signal? Does the door lock from the inside?
  • Think about varying your routines, changing timings or routes when leaving home or work
  • Be alert for tech abuse, tracker apps, Apple AirTags, video doorbells, device location services etc.
  • If you have children:
    • Teach them to call 999 and/or to ask for help
    • You may want to contact their school and make somebody aware of the situation
  • Consider what to do about family pets. The Dogs Trust have the Freedom Project and Cats Protection offer Paws Protect, which both offer support and a pet fostering service to those fleeing domestic abuse

Post Separation Abuse

Stalking is a high-risk behaviour and you should not ignore behaviours which are Fixed, Obsessive, Unwanted, Repeated (FOUR).

  • Prepare for the possibility of post separation abuse/stalking
  • Keep a diary of incidents, this can also be used as evidence
  • Check mobile devices for tracking apps - don't block but do mute
  • Use 141 to hide a new telephone number if you need to contact the perpetrator
  • Be aware of shared financial arrangements such as joint accounts or shared debit/credit cards. Talk to your bank about the situation
  • Check that your new address is not shown on any correspondence that might be sent to the perpetrator such as Family Court papers, minutes of meetings etc.
  • Talk to children (if you have them) and other family members about the need to keep a new address secure/private
  • Tell your employer about the situation and ask for help if needed, most employers now have a Domestic Abuse Policy in place
  • If you have children, make their school or childcare setting aware of the situation
  • Review identifying activity on social media, streaming or gaming apps and your use of delivery apps/websites
  • Register on the Electoral Role anonymously at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-to-vote-anonymously
  • If you are moving house and setting up a postal redirect, phone 03457 777 888 to speak to Royal Mail about your circumstances, do not apply for a redirect online or through a Post Office if you are moving due to domestic abuse

Apps and Online Resources

There are a variety of apps and resources available to help you stay safe and record any incidents that do take place.