Domestic Violence: A Handbook for Health Professionals

By Lyn Shipway | Go to book overview

Appendix 3

Devising a safety plan

Devise a safety plan
Planning a safe exit from the relationship enables a woman to take some control over a potentially dangerous situation in addition to giving her a sense of a better future. Women should know that it is often possible to make contact with the local domestic violence unit (DVU) or the domestic violence officer (DVO) at the local police station at any point during the relationship. Thus the police are aware of the inherent dangers to the woman, and they have a record of previous abuse incidents. The woman needs to be reassured that no action will be taken without her express wish to proceed unless and until an incident occurs in which she or one of her children is injured. Women in abusive relationships should be advised to:
• Find a safe place, possibly with a close friend or relative where she can store clothes and valuables for a period. If possible, the items should be kept away from the shared home.
• Gradually put a few clothes for herself and any children in a bag in the place of safety, any valuables that will not be missed, and even a few of the children's small toys.
• Consider the possibility of purchasing a mobile phone if she does not already have one.
• Either store original copies of important documents in a place with easy access in the home, or if it is safe to do so, put them in the place of safety. Alternatively if the original documents would be easily missed by the partner, photocopies should be made and hidden. Documents might include:
- passport
- birth certificates
- driving licence
- marriage certificate
- bank details
- children's medical records, immunizations, etc.
- national insurance cards
- address book
- letters, etc., that might identify the place of safety
• If the woman is in possession of a court order banning the man from entering the house, approaching or molesting her, then she should keep it readily available or leave it with a close friend while keeping a copy in her own possession.

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