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Staying Safe: After You Leave a Violent Relationship

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Topic Overview

A violent relationship puts you and your children at risk for injury and even death. Making a plan will help provide for your safety and your children's safety.

Contact a local advocacy group for support, information, and advice on how to stay safe. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free at 1-800-799-SAFE (1-800-799-7233), or see the website at www.ndvh.org for the nearest advocacy program. The hotline is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, in English, Spanish, and other languages.

Also, see the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence's website at www.ncadv.org/resources/state.htm to find the program nearest to you that offers shelter and legal support.

After you have left, you may have to take extra measures to stay safe. Your local advocacy group can help you get in touch with legal and social services in your area. This group may also provide information on counseling and support groups that can help you recover emotionally from your abuse.

Steps to take after you leave

  • Contact the police to get a restraining order if you are no longer living with a violent partner and he or she continues to pursue you, threaten you, or act violently toward you. If you have a restraining order, always carry a copy with you. Make and keep copies for work, your car, and your home. If the restraining order is broken, call the police and keep good records of what happened.
  • Document all contacts, messages, injuries, or other incidents involving the abusive person. Save all documentation.
  • Change your phone number and cell phone service plan. Try to carry a cell phone with you, and program it to dial 911.
    • Screen calls.
    • Use caller ID.
    • Use the prerecorded message on your telephone's answering machine, or have a friend record your message for you.
    • Never include your name, address, or phone number in your prerecorded message.
  • Change your routine. Don't park in the same spot every day or take the same route home from work.
  • If you are moving, think about talking to your local shelter program about a temporary place to stay or other services they could provide.
  • For people who are staying in their home:
    • Change your locks, if your former partner has a key.
    • If you have to meet your partner, do it in a public place. Have someone else go with you if possible.
    • If your abuser comes to your home, you do not have to let him or her in. Keep the doors closed and locked, and call the police.
  • Change your emergency phone contacts at work and at your children's school.
  • Avoid staying alone.
  • Plan how to get away if confronted by an abusive partner.
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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: October 13, 2011
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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