Deciding what to do if you are in an abusive relationship can be very difficult. There is no “one-size-fits-all” response to domestic violence, and what is right for some people will not feel right for others.
Whether you decide to; leave your relationship; speak to a domestic violence support worker; or get in contact with the police about your violent partner; the most important thing that you need to know is how to stay safe.
Finding a refuge
In the United Kingdom, there are a number of charities which are set up to provide safe places for women to go to if they need to flee from an abusive partner. Most local councils have a department which is responsible for providing support to people who are fleeing from domestic violence. Although many local housing policies exclude people who do not have a local connection to the area, they will often make an exception for people who are fleeing an abusive relationship, because they know that it is important to house abuse victims away from their abusers.
If you do not want to speak to your local council directly, many support agencies run their own refuge centres and can also speak to the council on your behalf if you want them to. If you need to find a space in a refuge, you can contact the 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247. This is a Freephone number.
What to do if you are still with your partner?
If you are able to, you should consider talking to a friend or someone who you trust about the abuse.
Talk to them about where you could stay if you did have to leave your partner at short notice. If you are worried about making phone calls to your support worker or a lawyer, ask a friend if you can make these calls from their house, so that they will not show up on your bills.
Compile a list of emergency numbers that you can contact if you are in trouble. This list may include; relatives, friends, police, Domestic Violence Helpline, and the number of a refuge.
You should also make copies of important documents such as passport, birth certificates and your marriage certificate if applicable. Store these in a safe place, because your abuser may seek to destroy them as this will increase their control.
Save up some physical cash and keep an extra set of keys in case you need these.
Consider possible escape routes from your home if you do need to leave in a hurry. Be prepared to call the emergency services if you feel as though you or your children are in a dangerous position.
Keep a diary of any incidents that do happen, as these may be used as evidence at a later date. Include dates, times and the names of anyone who is involved, as well as details of the injuries. If you have physical injuries, visit your GP or a doctor so that they can make formal records of your injuries.
Take time for yourself. Do something that you enjoy so that you can take a few moments to escape from the stresses of your relationship. This is important for your mental wellbeing.
If you have left, but still feel in danger
Arrange for the doors and window locks to be changed if you are still in the same home that you used to live in together. Speak to the police about additional measures to make your home more secure. Advise anyone who looks after your children about your change of circumstances, so that they do not allow your children to leave with an ex-partner.