Protecting Yourself

January 11, 2009

Your primary concern should be for your and your children’s safety. Counselors will immediately question you regarding your safety and whether your abuser knows where you are. If there is no one you can stay with, go to a women’s shelter.

Don’t let your abusive partner contact you in any way, shape, or form. If you think they might wait for you outside your workplace, arrange for a person or group of people to walk you to your car. If they know where you are living, try to avoid being alone. Change your email, and phone number, or at the very least, block them. If you don’t change your number and you don’t absolutely need your phone for work, turn it off and give it to a friend or family member for a couple of weeks. It will remove the temptation to call your abuser or check if they have called you. If you use social sites or messenger programs, block and delete the abuser from them and set your details to private so they can’t keep tabs on you. You don’t want to be able to see them either. If you see them, you will think about them. Change all of your passwords. If you have any joint accounts, cancel them immediately. I will use video store memberships as an example. It’s very easy for an angry ex-partner to rent out a console and ten games under your name and take off with them. The last thing you need is to end up with a $2000 bill and a debt collection agency on your arse after what you’ve been through. Do all of the above as soon as possible, or have someone you trust do it for you. The longer you leave it, the more likely the abuser will become vindictive and cause you trouble.

If your partner hits you and the police come to the scene, get them to file a protection order for you. If your friends or family are in danger, have them included in the protection order. You can also go to a police station and file a protection order yourself. If you can, take photographs of your wounds as evidence. Document what happened. Include dates, how the abuse happened, how you felt, and anything else relevant you can think of. If you need to provide proof for a protection order, it will be easier if you have clear records of what you have been through. If anyone witnessed any of the incidents, try to get it in writing from them what happened, and date it. If you somehow have written proof that your partner abused you, for example, in an apology letter, keep it as evidence. This may seem obvious, but I say it because I assumed my abuser would leave me alone. I wanted to forget him and threw out everything that reminded me of him. Out of the blue I received an email through an address I forgot to block him on, abusing me and making threats against my family. I had no evidence to file for a protection order other than that email. Keep everything in case you need it for evidence, but put it somewhere you won’t accidentally come across it and think of him.

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