Staying safe

We’ve put together some suggestions you might want to consider in order to make yourself as safe as possible.

Following these suggestions is not a guarantee of safety, but could help improve your safety. Remember, you know your abuser so only do what you think will help.

Always call 999 if you or your children are in danger. 

Silent help - Call 999 and if you can't talk press 55 and the operator will respond.

Our Advice Service is open for advice and support - 0808 802 5565 or email advice[email protected] 

 

Physical space

  • Rehearse escape routes 
  • Identify places of safety in the house 
  • Identify places that are most dangerous 
  • Remember - altering the space may be dangerous if the perpetrator has time to notice

If you fear an attack:

  • Move to a low-risk area of the house, away from the kitchen, garage or where there are knives or anything that can be used as weapons 
  • Avoid rooms or spaces you could be trapped in, like bathrooms or walk-in cupboards 
  • Be ready to leave the house in an emergency- be aware however that many shops/restaurants/pubs will be shut.

Stay connected 

  • Ensure any children have important numbers, can call 999 and know what to do in an incident 
  • Keep important numbers to hand, or memorised 
  • Keep a phone charged, switched on and with you at all times

The Silent Solution is a police system to help people who are unable to speak, but who need police assistance. You will hear an automated police message, which lasts for 20 seconds and begins with 'you are through to the police'. It will ask you to press 55 to be put through to police call management.

The Hollie Guard app is really useful if you are in danger – you shake your phone and it sends an alert out to a trusted contact.

Bright sky app is a domestic abuse app which provides support and information to anyone who may be in an abusive relationship or those concerned about someone you know. 

  • Plan an escape route from every room in your home
  • Think of a safe area in your home to go if an argument happens – stay away from rooms with no exits and hard surfaces where there are objects which can be used as weapons i.e. bathroom, kitchen. If an argument happens, try to move to one of the safe areas.
  • Think about and make a list of safe people to contact, if possible memorise all important phone numbers.
  • Speak to a trusted neighbour about your situation who will call the police if they hear a disturbance
  • Develop a ‘code word’ or ‘sign’ so that family and friends know when to call for help.
  • Keep money / change with you at all times – know where the nearest working phone box is.
  • Think about what you will say to your partner if they become violent. Use your judgement of the abuser to protect you and your children. You are in no way colluding with the abuser if you give them what they want in order to protect you and your children. Call the police as soon as it is safe to do so.
  • Know where to go and what to do in an emergency and have an alternative.
  • Teach your children what to do in an emergency – tell them to call 999 and be able to give the address but not to get involved – they should never use a phone in front of the abuser as this may endanger them
  • Call 999 in the event of an emergency – think of alternative ways to keep safe if the police do not respond straight away

If you are planning to leave you may not feel able to leave immediately, but you can plan and be prepared for when an emergency does arise and you need to leave your home. Leaving is often the most dangerous time so plan leaving so you can increase your safety. You can:

  • Keep a record of the violent and controlling behaviour to support any future action you may take – civil or criminal.
  • Log incidents with the police, even if you do not want to press charges at present: https://www.met.police.uk
  • Seek legal advice (Solace Advice can give you numbers of Solicitors, Rights of Women / Community Legal Service Directory link/ National DV Helpline )
  • Have any bruises or injuries recorded by a doctor for future use in any legal proceedings, rehousing procedures, etc. You can also take a picture using a camera or your mobile phone. Solace can also do this for you
  • Have a packed bag ready and keep it in a secret, but accessible place so you can leave quickly.
  • Keep important documents in a safe place, either hidden in your home at with friends / family (e.g. marriage / birth certificates, national insurance card, passport, driving licence etc,) including items of sentimental value, so that they can be grabbed in a hurry.
  • Only tell people you trust where you will be. Lie if you have to – this will protect you and them.

The following items will be useful but are not essential for you to take if you decide that you want to leave in a hurry. Remember we can always help you to get these items later and with police support:

  • ID – passports, birth / marriage certificate, NI number, driving licence etc
  • Money – bank / credit cards
  • Medical – prescribed medicines, prescriptions, medical cards, children’s medical records
  • Legal – injunctions, divorce papers, mortgage documents, tenancy agreement
  • Special Items: photos, child’s favourite toy, house and car keys.
  • Always try to take your children with you or make arrangements to leave them with someone safe.

Remember: If the last number you called was a refuge, taxi or the place you are going to stay, dial another number – for example, the Speaking Clock (dial 123)

Monitoring, harassing and stalking behaviours have always been part of domestic abuse. Modern technology has provided new, simpler, means to enable this behaviour to continue. Mobile phones, social media platforms, and apps are all developing so quickly that it can often feel difficult to know how to keep yourself safe online. Here are a few ideas that can help you.

  • Don’t answer calls from withheld numbers
  • Block or change numbers (only when it is safe to do so)
  • Turn off location services such as ‘find my iPhone’ on smart phones
  • Ensure that location services are also not activated on apps – for example facebook attaches a location to posts
  • Delete and/or block your abusive partner on social media sites and don’t add anyone unknown
  • Ensure your social media sites are managed safely; for example changing your facebook settings so you can’t be found by using the search function/setting up new accounts which you only give to safe friends or family
  • Cover cameras on tablets/computers/phones in case perpetrators are able to hack them
  • If you’ve experienced abuse through your phones/tablets the safest option is to get a new device
  • If you can’t afford a new device you can restore the device to factory settings. Going in store to your provider can help you with this to check it’s done correctly.
  • Get screenshots to keep a log of any threats occurring through social media where safe to do so.

Unfortunately, domestic violence and abuse may not end even when the relationship has ended. In order to increase your safety you can consider:

  • Inform trusted friends or relatives that you are no longer in the relationship and they should call the police if they see your former partner near or trying to gain access to your home.
  • Change locks on your doors and make sure that all windows and doors are as secure as possible.
  • Have additional security installed- sensor security lighting/ burglar alarm
  • Change the routes you use to take your children to school.
  • Inform people who look after your children eg, teachers, childminders etc, which people have permission to collect them. If you have an injunction, give a copy to the school.
  • When at work ask people to screen your calls.
  • Change your routines i.e. shop in different place/supermarket at different times and take a different route home etc.

Using dating apps can be daunting, it can make us feel unsafe or vulnerable especially if we have experienced abuse before. Sometimes creating a safety plan for using dating apps can help us feel able to use them and enjoy them! Here’s some potential steps to take to make your dating experiences safer.

Setting up your profile:

  • Don’t use photographs or state information that indicates where you live or work
  • Use dating apps that make their users verify their profiles
  • Block and report suspicious users
  • Be yourself- this is the only way you’ll attract people you’ll get on with
  • Never send money or share financial information with anyone you match with
  • If you think something on the app could be improved to make you and others feel safer, contact the app
  • Go at your own pace, you don’t need to rush to meet someone, give out your number or any private details unless you are ready to do so – you are in control

Before you meet:

  • Make sure your phone is charged and you have your house keys
  • Screenshot their profile before meeting
  • You can always ask to check out your potential date on social media (if they have it)
  • Arrange to meet somewhere public like a restaurant, bar, park or market
  • Tell a friend where you are going and set up a code word that means you need help
  • You can also download a personal safety app such as bSafe, Hollie Guard, Walk Safe or share your location with a friend on find my friends or Whatsapp for the entire date
  • Move to messaging via text/numbers if that makes you feel at ease, similarly them not having your number might suit you better!
  • Video chat/speak on the phone before meeting, this might make you feel more comfortable meeting in person. Some apps let you do this via the app.
  • Work out how you can get to and from the date on public transport

On the date:

  • If something doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts- end the date
  • You don’t need to disclose everything about your personal life if you don’t want to
  • Don’t leave your drink, your phone or personal items unattended
  • No matter if you flirt, kiss or go home with the person you are allowed to say no, change your mind or leave at any point in the date
  • If you do decide you’d like to be sexually intimate with the person, make sure you use protection
  • If you go to an unknown location, send your safe person your location and you can create a check in system
  • When you get to the location of the date work out how you can leave safely if needed

If something bad happens:

  • Ask for help from a waitress, bartender, shop keeper or someone around you
  • If you leave and they follow you or you try to leave and they do not let you ask for help, text your safe person a code word, make a scene to get help
  • Call 999 if you need urgent help, if you don’t want the person to hear you press 55 when the operator has answered
  • Call someone your safe person to help you
  • Go to the nearest open shop, restaurant, bar and ask for help
  • Rape crisis helpline: 08088029999
  • National Domestic Abuse Helpline:08082000247

Remember, you are not responsible for abuse, if anything does happen it is not your fault the responsibility lies with the perpetrator