The most important aspect of escaping domestic violence is remaining safe. Making that courageous decision to break free is also the most difficult one you will make. Before you attempt to leave, call an agency such as The Spring (See the various international, national, Florida and local links on Victim Support Page of our website) and speak to an advocate for information. Always focus on staying safe! Make contact with an organization for help in abusive relationships. You can talk to them about:
Leaving your abuser
Making a safety plan
If it is safe, keeping a journal of abuse
Attending a support group
Filing for an Injunction for Protection
Filing criminal charges
Many are mistaken to think there are no free services available, but nothing is further from the truth. You can get counseling, group sessions, housing, clothing, assistance with utilities, relocation assistance, if you just work a little to find an organization that can help. Begin with the Family Justice Center (again, on the Victim Support Page). Some shelters provide safety deposit boxes, post office boxes and even voice mail boxes (Verizon is one corporation that assists with this effort). Some shelters even take pets!
Gather your information, educate yourself on what you need and what is available, then develop your SAFETY PLAN.
Before you leave, consider packing these important items:
Your photo ID, Driver’s License;
Birth certificates and social security cards for you and your children;
Checkbook, ATM and Credit Cards;
Injunction for Protection documents;
Immigration Documents/Green Card;
Medications for you and your children;
House, car and safety deposit box keys;
Jewelry, glasses, dentures, contact lenses;
Pictures of you, children, your partner;
Change of clothes for you and your children (diaper bag, bottles, etc.);
Security blanket or favorite book or toy for your children.
And, as always, keep the NATIONAL DOMESTIC VIOLENCE HOTLINE handy: 1-800-799-7233.
October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Be aware – of your friends, neighbors and family members who may be in harm’s way through domestic violence. Without putting yourself in danger, call the hotline for direction and assistance on how you can help. Put on the purple, and stay safe out there!