In rural communities, there are fewer services that provide support for victims of sexual violence and dating and domestic violence. It can also be a challenge to maintain privacy due to the small community size. Things to think about:
How to get away if there is an emergency:
- Be conscious of exits or other escape routes.
- Think about options for transportation (car, bus, train, etc.).
Who can help:
- Friends, family.
- Support centers, if there are any in your area.
- National Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE(4673), the National Sexual Assault Hotline or, if you are in a dating or domestic violence situation, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE(7233).
Where to go:
- Friend’s house.
- Relative’s house.
- A domestic violence or homeless shelter (if there are not any domestic violence shelters in your area, and you are contemplating leaving the town, you may want to consider going to a homeless shelter).
- The police (even if the police know both you and the perpetrator—they are still responsible for doing their job).
- Important: If the dangerous situation involves a partner, go to the police or a shelter first.
What to bring:
- Important papers and documents: birth certificate, social security card, license, passport, medical records, lease, bills, etc.
- House keys, car keys, cash, credit cards, medicine, important numbers, cell phone.
- If you are bringing children with you, remember to bring their important papers and legal documents.
- Keep all of these things in an emergency bag.
- Hide the bag—best if not in house or car.
- If the bag is discovered, can call it a “hurricane”, “tornado” or “fire” bag.
How to anticipate and respond to a perpetrator’s actions:
- Be conscious of places the perpetrator frequents (work schedule, favorite places to go, etc.).
- Plan what you would say and do if you came into contact with him or her.
- If you need to get away and there is no public transportation in your area, try to find someone who will allow you to use his or her car if you do not have one at your disposal.
- Keep your doors locked.
- Have extra car necessities (oil, jumper cables, etc.).
- Try not to wait until the last minute to fill your gas tank; always keep it half-way full if you can.
- Have your keys ready when you go to unlock your car.
- Plan your route and know what “safe” places are on it (police stations, hospitals, etc.).
- Change the locks on doors and windows.
- Keep your doors locked, even when you are at home.
- Install a security system.
- Install outside lighting system (with motion detectors).
- Do not prop doors.
- Close blinds/curtains at night.
- Keep car doors locked, even in your own driveway.
Tips to Remember:
- Keep cash with you at all times.
- Keep some change accessible just in case you need to use a pay phone.
- Memorize all important numbers/have important numbers easily accessible on your cell phone (if you have one).
- Establish a code word so that family, friends, etc. know when to call for help.
- Have a backup plan in case the first fails.
- Carry a small noisemaker (like a whistle) and/or flashlight on your keychain.
- Be aware of your routine and try to alter it sometimes, if possible.
- Have an extra copy of keys.
- Try to keep in contact with people/organizations who are helping you.
If an abuser has access to your email account, he or she may be able to read your incoming and outgoing mail. If you believe your account is secure, make sure you choose a password he or she will not be able to guess.
If an abuser sends you threatening or harassing email messages, they may be printed and saved as evidence of this abuse. Additionally, the messages may constitute a federal offense. For more information on this issue, contact your local United States Attorney’s Office.
Internet Browser History
If an abuser knows how to read your computer’s history or cache file (automatically saved web pages and graphics), he or she may be able to see information you have viewed recently on the Internet. You can clear your history or empty your cache file in your browser’s settings.*
Pulldown Edit menu, select Preferences. Click on Navigator on choose ‘Clear History’. Click on Advanced then select Cache. Click on “Clear Disk Cache”.
On older versions of Netscape:
Pulldown Options menu. Select Network Options, Select Cache. Click on “Clear Disk Cache”.
Pulldown View menu, select Internet Options. On General page, under Temporary Internet Files, click on “Delete Files”. Under History click on “Clear History”.
Pulldown Members menu, select Preferences. Click on WWW icon. Then select Advanced. Purge Cache.
* This information may not completely hide your tracks. Many browser types have features that display recently visited sites. The safest way to find information on the Internet is a local library, a friend’s house or workplace.
Copyright American Bar Association
What can I do to be safe?
If you feel you are in danger at any time, you can call 911 or your local police.
Consider the following:
- The police can protect you, and help you and your children leave your home safely.
- They can arrest your abuser when they have enough proof that you have been abused.
- They can arrest your abuser if a restraining order has been violated.
When the police come, tell them everything the abuser did that made you call. If you have been hit, tell the police where. Tell them how many times it happened. Show them any marks left on your body. Marks may take time to show up. If you see a mark after the police leave, call the police to take pictures of the marks. They may be used in court. If your abuser has broken any property, show the police. The police can give you information on domestic violence programs and shelters. The police must make a report saying what happened to you. Police reports can be used in court if your abuser is charged with a crime.
- Get the officers’ names, badge numbers, and report the number in case you need a copy of the report.
- A police report can be used to help you get a restraining order.
Get support from friends and family
- Tell your supportive family, friends and co-workers what has happened.
- Find a safe place.
It is not fair. You should not have to leave your home because of what your abuser has done. But sometimes it is the only way you will be safe. SAFE in Hunterdon’s safe house provides a confidential, secure place for you and your children to stay.
Get medical help
If you have been hurt, go to the hospital or your doctor. Domestic violence advocates may be called to the hospital. They are there to give you support and provide you with information to help you make the best decisions for you. You may ask medical staff to call one for you. Medical records can be important in court cases. They can also help you get a restraining order. Give all the information about your injuries and who hurt you that you feel safe to give.
Make a safety plan
Your safety is the most important thing. Listed below are tips to help keep you safe. The resources below can help you to make a safety plan that works best for you. It is important to get help with your safety plan. Call SAFE in Hunterdon’s 24-hour hotline at 1-888-988-4033 for help in safety planning.
If you are in an abusive relationship, think about…
- Having important phone numbers nearby for you and your children, including the police, hotlines, friends and SAFE in Hunterdon. If you have children, teach them how to dial 911. Make up a code word that you can use when you need help.
- Friends or neighbors you could tell about the abuse. Ask them to call the police if they hear angry or violent noises.
- How to get out of your home safely. Practice ways to get out.
- Safer places in your home where there are exits and no weapons. If you feel abuse is going to happen, try to get your abuser to one of these safer places.
- Any weapons in the house. Think about ways that you could get them out of the house.
- Think about where you could go to be safe, even if you don’t currently plan on leaving. Think about how you might leave and when, perhaps when taking out the trash, walking the pet or going to the store. Put together a bag of things you use everyday (see checklist below). Hide it where it is easy for you to get.
- Go over your safety plan often.
If you consider leaving your abuser, think about…
- Four places you could go if you leave your home.
- People who might help you if you left. Think about people who will keep a bag of clothing and supplies for you. Think about people who might lend you money. Make plans for your pets.
- Opening a bank account or getting a credit card in your name.
- Think about how you could take your children with you safely. There are times when taking your children with you may put all of your lives in danger. You need to protect yourself to be able to protect your children.
What to take
- Your children (if it is safe)
- Money, checkbooks, credit cards
- Keys to car, house, work
- Extra clothes
- Important papers for you and your children
- Birth certificates
- Social security cards
- School and medical records
- Driver’s license and car registration
- Welfare identification
- Passports, green cards, work permits
- Lease/rental agreements, mortgage payment book
- Unpaid bills, insurance papers
- Restraining orders, divorce papers, custody order
- Address book
- Pictures, jewelry, and other things that mean a lot to you
- Items for your children (toys, blankets, etc.)
If you have left your abuser, think about…
- Your safety – you still need to.
- Getting a restraining order form the court. Keep a copy with you all the time. Give a copy to the police, people who take care of your children, their schools and your boss.
- Changing the locks. Consider putting in stronger doors, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, a security system and outside lights.
- Telling friends and neighbors that your abuser no longer lives with you. Ask them to call the police if they see your abuser near your home or children.
- Telling people who take care of your children the names of people who are allowed to pick them up. If you have a PPO protecting your children, give their teachers and babysitters a copy of it.
- Telling someone at work about what has happened. Ask that person to screen your calls. If you have a restraining order that includes where you work, consider giving your boss a copy of it and a picture of the abuser. Think about and practice a safety plan for your workplace. This should include going to and from work.
- Not using the same businesses that you did when you were with your abuser.
- Who you can call if you need support or help.
- A safe way to speak with your abuser if you must.
- Going over your safety plan often.
WARNING: Abusers try to control their victims’ lives. When abusers feel a loss of control, such as when victims try to leave them, the abuse often gets worse. Take special care when you leave. Keep being careful even after you have left.
Adapted from www.domestic violence.org