Tips to stay safe

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Does your boyfriend or girlfriend’s anger scare you? If it does, it’s a warning sign of physical violence in future. Think about how to protect yourself in case they try and hurt you.

Still in the relationship?

Car keys, phone and important documents

You might want to stay in the relationship, or you might not feel able to break up with your boyfriend/girlfriend at the moment.

Perhaps you hope they will change or you are scared to leave. That’s ok.

But there are still things you could do to help you to feel safer around them. See the tips below.

Thinking it’s time?

See Dear Diary: Weighing it up to help you decide.

Did you know break ups can be the most dangerous time if your boyfriend/girlfriend is possessive, unpredictable or violent?

See How to break up and stay safe.

Ways to protect yourself

Tell people what’s happening

Tell friends, your parents, family, teachers or your workmates what’s happening. Ask them to help protect you, for example, by being around when your boyfriend/girlfriend/partner is there. You could use a code word to let them know you need help.

Try not to be alone with your ex

If you’ve broken up with an abusive boyfriend or girlfriend, try not to be alone with them.

If you can, meet them in a public place when other people are around, or when your family or friends are there. If you are out, arrange another way of getting home rather than going with them.

Stay sober and alert

Stay aware of what’s going on when you are around them. For example, try not to drink or use other drugs. Listen to your feelings – if something doesn’t feel right, get away as soon as you can.

Be prepared: mobile, money, keys, papers

Have an excuse prepared so you can leave quickly if you feel uncomfortable or threatened.

Always have a mobile and extra money handy for a taxi or phone call if needed.

Plan where you will go if you need to leave in a hurry (eg a friend’s or family member’s place) and how you will get there.

Gather together any special things and important documents so they are ready if you need to take them in a hurry – like your birth certificate, bank cards, passport, immigration papers, Health Care or Medicare card, or any medication you might need.  Put them in a safe place.

Keep a contact list

Make a list of phone numbers of people who could help you.

Important numbers might include: police, friends and/or family members you can trust, a domestic violence service, the taxi service. Memorise or write down the number of the police so you can call them if you are in danger.  (In Australia phone 000 for police in an emergency) See Services that can help

Be safe using your computer, email and the internet

Someone who’s trying to control or hurt you might try to check up on what you’re doing on the internet, email or phone. There are lots of sneaky ways of finding out what you’re doing online, on a computer or mobile - and you might not know that they’re watching you.

Sometimes the safest way to keep your internet use private is to use a computer which is not at home. Read more about using the  internet and email safely.

Keep any evidence

Save anything that could be used as evidence, in case you decide to report abuse or stalking.

Keep any abusive or threatening messages, including any texts or answering machine messages or emails, instant messaging, or posts on websites.

You can report abuse, violence, threats, stalking or cyber-stalking to police and the abuser can be charged with a criminal offence, or police can assist with applying for an Intervention Order.

If they keep coming to your house after you’ve broken up…

  • Screen your calls with an answering machine or have someone else take messages from them.
  • Get someone else to answer the door at home.
  • Arrange a safe place to stay where he/she can’t contact you. If you don’t have anywhere safe to stay, there are domestic violence services that can help you find a place to stay. They also provide support while you are there.
  • The police can help protect you from any more violence. For example, you can apply for a court order that tells your abusive ex to stop coming near you or harassing you. In Victoria, this is called an Intervention Order.
  • If your ex disobeys the order, then they can be charged with a criminal offence.

Related links

Photo above from Flickr by 21173961@N07 / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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