Be ready to leave at any time
In the event that you need to leave immediately, always have a full tank of gas and know where your keys are. Try to always back into the driveway so that you can quickly pull out. If you do not have a car, consider programming the number to your local cab company into your phone, downloading Uber or Lyft for free, or having a close friend on standby to pick you up if needed.
In either case, keep copies of birth certificates, passports, immigration papers, and Social Security cards in your wallet, purse, or backpack.
Cover your bases
In crisis moments, we often place instinct over logic. Plan the details of your escape in advance so that you can think clearly when presented with danger. A good safety plan answers the following questions:
- Who will help you?
- How will you escape?
- When will you leave?
Make a list
Whether you leave in a hurry or plan your escape, gather a few basic items that are essential for your success, such as your ID, passport, copies of social security cards and birth certificate for you and your child(ren). Make a checklist to ensure that you have what you need when you leave.
Consider filing a protective order
If your situation does not allow for “fleeing,” another option for escaping abuse is filing a protective order, which could require an abuser to move out of your home, maintain a significant distance from your home or job, or avoid contact completely.
All 50 states and the District of Columbia have statutes for some form of protection order. Several individuals can be included in protective orders, and special provisions may be made allowing peaceful, limited contact for custody conversations.
These orders last typically one to five years, with the option for a victim to renew the order. You can file a protection order with your local court. To assist anyone seeking a protection order, HAWC has free, trauma-informed advocates stationed at courts. You can also call HAWC’s 24-Hour Hotline for more legal support.