Leaving an abusive relationship is a difficult decision to make. The longer a woman stays in the relationship the worse the abuse will get. Unfortunately, the time when a woman leaves her abuser is also the most dangerous time for her. At this point the abuser may escalate his / her behaviour i) to get you back, or ii) to ensure no-one else will “have you”.
Therefore it is extremely important to think ahead and have a plan before acting. A well thought out safety plan will enable a woman to think clearly and move quickly. It can seem overwhelming, but taking one step at a time may help.
A good first step in your plan is to contact the shelter or community outreach office to talk about your situation and decide what to do next. Counselors can then help you make a plan.
An abused woman need not feel embarrassed to ask for help from her community. It may take longer for some women than others to get to the point where they are in a position to help themselves, depending on the abuse they have experienced.
IF YOU LEAVE YOUR HOME
- The most important thing is to make sure you and your children are safe.
- Do not leave your children. This could be important for any future custody battles. If you have to leave them temporarily, go back and get them as soon as possible. Get a police escort if you fear violence in returning. But the police will NOT decide who will be able to keep the children.
WHAT TO TAKE
If you are able to safely collect these items in advance, it’s best to do so. If you are unable to do so and you need to leave for a shelter immediately, don’t worry,…get out,…get safe,…we’ll help you retrieve what you need later.
- Legal documents, such as deed, mortgage or lease, bank books, charge cards, social insurance and other identification, immigration papers
- Birth certificates for children and yourself
- Clothes for a few days
- Children’s feeding bottles, diapers, clothes, favourite toys and blanket
- Keys for home, car, safety deposit box
If you have called the police, they will wait for you while you collect whatever items you need.
SHELTERS FOR ABUSED WOME
Shelters have 24 hour crisis lines and will pay transportation costs if a woman needs to go there for safety. She should call ahead to make sure beds are available or to get a referral to a safe place. Staff at the shelter are trained to help her through the crisis of leaving an abusive situation. Other women who reside there will also offer her understanding and support.
If a woman chooses not to go to a shelter to live, she can call the Department of Social Services and ask to speak with an intake worker to discuss her financial situation. This information will aid her in finding affordable accommodations. She may be entitled to some community start-up money. If she is unemployed, she is entitled to an income based on her size of family. Women who are working, may be entitled to a monthly top up of money. It is important that she inform the intake worker that she is trying to leave an abusive relationship.
Abused women are entitled to priority status with Ontario Housing. A doctor, lawyer, social worker, minister, shelter worker or other professional who has been working with her and has a history of the relationship can write a letter on her behalf, outlining the abuse. This letter should be included with her application. Some women may need to find temporary accommodation on a month to month basis while waiting for a subsidized unit. It is important to realize that priority status may be cancelled if she signs a long-term lease. Discuss your situation with a housing representative.
When you make a call to someone who you do not wish your partner to know about, for example your lawyer, Social Services, or a women’s shelter make a call right afterwards to a safe number so that your abuser cannot access the call by pressing *69 touchtone or 1169 rotary dial. When making phone calls, a woman needs to be aware of the systems available through Bell Canada and take safety precautions.
Victims of Violence can request permanent blocking by contacting Bell Customer Service.
Call Trace, another safety feature is now available on all individual lines (where technically possible). The Call Trace code must be dialed immediately after the harassing call is received. The Bell Call Trace code is “57” touchtone or 1157 rotary dial. There is a $5 charge for each trace, with a $10 monthly maximum. The trace information is recorded by Bell and will only be released to law enforcement agencies. Call Trace can be used even if the call has been blocked.
FOR YOUR SAFETY
- Blocking does not block calls to 9-1-1 emergency services.
- Blocked calls can still be traced.