Resources for Survivors

Deciding to get help is a personal decision that can only be taken when one is ready to do so. We understand that making any decision that implies obtaining help whether to cope with the abuse or leave the relationship can place a person in greater danger.  Deciding to obtain help requires one to think of all possible scenarios and ensuring that there is a window of opportunity.  

However, if a person is in immediate danger, calling 911 is the best option. Emergency situations include a recent threat of violence, recent act of violence or if your safety or someone else’s safety is in imminent danger.

Talk to someone you trust.

Having someone to talk to about what’s happening can be helpful.  Often times it can be difficult to share with others because of one’s fear of their reaction or feeling embarrassed about the situation.  Disclosing to a close friend or family member what is going on in your relationship can be helpful, but only when you are ready to do so. Talking to someone can be the first step in seeking help.

Talk to a trained professional.

If you decided to seek professional help, you can contact your local victim assistance program. These programs are designed to provide supportive services, such as crisis intervention, individual counseling, support groups, emergency and relocation assistance , accompaniment to the courts, hospital and police station, and information and referrals. Speaking to a professional can provide insight about what one’s experiencing.  Even if a person continued the relationship, counseling services can educate him or her on how to recognize the cues that indicate when an abuser will become violent so that immediate action is taken to remain safe.  Professionals understand that leaving is not easy and that it can take various attempts to finally leave an abuser.  A trained professional will respect a survivor’s decisions and when he or she decides to leave, can assist in creating a safety plan that will support this decision.

Make a safety plan.

There are some safety precautions a survivor can take if he or she is thinking about leaving the relationship. 

Remember important phone numbers

Make copies of important documents and give to a trusted friend or family member to hold

Find a place you can go to if you need to leave quickly—a friend's house, family member, hotel or domestic violence shelter.

Have an idea of how you will get out of the home (a window, fire escape) and how you will get away (car, bus, taxi)

Prepare a bag that contains the following: money, a change of clothes, spare keys and important documents (driver's license, check book, medical records, birth certificates, health insurance cards, etc.). Keep this bag hidden or leave at a friend's or family member's house, your work or any other safe place in case you need to leave in an emergency.

Arrange with a friend to have an "emergency phrase" that your partner will not recognize. Or arrange a signal with a neighbor to let them know when you are in trouble.

If a person has children, his or her safety plan will also include them.  Apart from the steps above, one can teach a child to contact a trusted adult, let school and/or daycare provider who else has permission to pick children up and if old enough share the plan with them.

If you or someone you know needs help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at (800)799-7233. You are not alone.

Next section: Resources for family, friends and supporters

For hotlines and more information, click here.

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