If you are experiencing abuse from your partner, deciding what to do can take time – leaving is a process. Here are some tips for increasing your safety and the safety of your children whilst you consider your options.
This page is a starting point. It is important to access specialist support as well – particularly if you are considering leaving. You can call Refuge’s expert Helpline team, 24-hours a day, on 0808 2000 247. We won’t tell you what to do, and we won’t judge you, but we can support you to understand your options and make a plan. We can let you know about specialist services in your community and help you find a refuge place. In an emergency situation, call 999.
Tell someone: Is there a friend, neighbour, or family member you trust? Let them know you might be at risk from your partner. Arrange a secret code with someone who lives close by (like ringing and hanging up, or a blank text), that lets them know you need help. You could also think about telling a professional you trust for example your GP.
Get specialist support: There are likely to be local charities in your area that can provide ongoing support, without your partner finding out. Many have ‘drop ins’, where you can access support without having made an appointment. You can phone our Helpline for referrals to services in your area, or you can look them up online. If you are searching online, remember that your partner might be tracking your search history – try and use a computer they do not have access to (e.g. at work, or in a public library). Find out more about safer browsing here, and keeping your devices safe from your partner here.
Contact the police: Be ready to call 999 if you or your children are in danger. You can also call 101 in a non-emergency situation to report previous incidents or get advice from the local domestic abuse team.
Keep a record: Think about ways you can gather evidence of your partner’s behaviour safely. Make notes of abusive incidents, including times, dates, names and details of how it made you feel. Tell your GP, so they have a record of the abuse. Save any abusive messages. These can be used as evidence at a later date. However, make sure they aren’t stored anywhere (physically, or digitally) where your partner might find them. You can find out more about the ways your partner might use technology to abuse you here.
Know your rights and options: Find out about your legal and housing rights and talk to a solicitor if possible. Explore what civil or criminal options might be available to you, including restraining orders and injunctions such as non-molestation and occupation orders (which can ban an abuser from your home). You can find information on this website, or call the Helpline to talk it through.
Financial independence:If it is possible to do so without alerting your partner, start putting some money aside for if you need to leave in a hurry. You could also think about ways you might gain financial independence away from your partner, in the future. The charity Surviving Economic Abuse can provide practical information.
Make copies of passports, birth certificates, court orders, marriage certificates, and keep them in a safe place. You could ask someone you trust to keep copies safe for you.
In an emergency: If your partner is pursuing you, or attacking you, ring 999 as soon as possible. You could also:
- Plan an escape route – think about where you will go so you can call the police or alert a neighbour, and plan a place to meet with your children if you get separated.
- Move to lower-risk parts of your home, where there is an escape route or access to a phone
- Avoid rooms like the kitchen or garage, which contain objects that could be used to hurt you
- Teach your children how to call 999 in an emergency
- If you are not able to get out of the house, barricade or lock yourself into a room, from which you can call the police and contact friends/family or neighbours