News & Events

How do you plan to escape violence?

October 12, 2021

One of the most frequently asked questions that Executive Officer Paula Westhead is asked by community groups is, how do you plan to leave a relationship?

“It is a good question, and given that it takes a woman up to seven times to leave violence, deciding what to take with you is an important step as is creating a safety plan,”

Paula says it is important to have a safety plan checklist which ideally is developed with the help of a family member, friend or support service.

It is also important to have an escape bag into which you put things which are important to you and your children, including documents, and the names and numbers of services and friends.

A typical safety plan includes planning and practising the quickest way to leave where you are, leaving spare keys and copies of important papers with someone you trust, and share a code word with your trusted person which you can call even if the perpetrator can hear.

“Not everyone has the time to use a code word so we advise women to speak to their trusted person, like a neighbour, and ask them to call the police if they hear violence or abuse,” Paula said.

Also crucial is to help children know the warning signs of danger, and to plan and practice steps they can use at home when there is violence or abuse.

“We know from our direct work with children that they need lots of affection and care when they are exposed to violence, and as much as mum is terrified, she needs to make sure her children understand what they need to do,” Paula said.

Not everyone has a safe place to go to when they leave.

“It is important to keep in a list of important contacts in your purse or mobile phone you can call on in an emergency. These include the local taxi service, Safe Steps and the phone number of the local police station,” Paula said.

Other safety tips include:

  • You may be entitled to paid leave from your employer

    Have a spare mobile phone with prepaid credit so your perpetrator cannot monitor your location through phone bills or call logs.

  • Change your mobile phone setting to private, and use email if you need to stay in contact with the perpetrator.
  • Pack an escape bag with clothes, favourite toys, documents.
  • Get a PO Box for important mail if the perpetrator has or could get access to your home or letter box
  • If you see the perpetrator, get into a public or busy place as soon as possible
  • After leaving, try to change your normal routines. This could be catching different trains or buses, leaving home or work at different hours, shopping in different places.
  • Talk to a domestic and family violence service, a community lawyer or the police about getting a protection order if you don’t already have one.
  • Tell your employer of any protection orders that prevent the abuser from coming near your work. Keep a copy of your order at work or in your bag

Experiencing family violence? Click below to make a plan that works for you.

Go to safety plan