If you are forced to change your behaviour because you are frightened of someone, then you are being abused. If you are experiencing ANY of the following then it is likely that you are being abused.
• Are they jealous or possessive?
• Do they cut you off from family and friends and try to isolate you?
• Are they charming one minute and abusive the next? Do they have sudden changes of mood – like Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde?
• Do they control your life – for example, your money, who you should see, what you should wear?
• Do they monitor your movements?
• Do they blame you for the abuse?
• Do they humiliate or insult you in front of others?
• Do they verbally abuse you?
• Do they constantly criticise you?
• Do they use anger and intimidation to frighten you and make you comply with their demands?
• Do they tell you you’re useless and couldn’t cope without them?
• Do you change your behaviour to avoid making them angry?
• Do they force you to have sex when you don’t want to?
The aim of the behaviour, whether conscious or unconscious – is to take control of your life. Domestic violence is an abuse of power – it’s all about power and control.
If you or your children are in danger, dial 999 immediately.
• Keeping safe if you are still living with the abuser • Thinking of leaving the abuser • Keeping safe if you have left the abuser but are still in danger
Keeping safe if you are still living with the abuser
Keeping safe in the home
• Make sure you have a mobile that has charge and credit – KEEP IT WITH YOU.
• Do you have a TRUSTED friend you could confide in? Is there a code word you could arrange with them in case you need help?
• Seek support from professional organisations such as SOS Domestic Abuse Projects or those listed on this website.
• Is there a safe way organisations can contact you?
• Make sure you remove all traces of contact with those organisations from your computer/mobile/phone bills.
• Keep a record of all incidents, no matter how small you may think.
• Receive medical help for any physical and/or emotional injuries. If you have physical injuries, request they are recorded and if possible photographed. These may be used at a later date if you need evidence for any reason.
• Plan an escape route before you need one.
Keeping safe during a violent incident
• In an emergency dial 999. If you can’t talk, leave the phone off the hook so the operator can hear.
• If unable to dial 999, contact a friend with a pre-arranged code word.
• Try to keep away from unsafe rooms i.e. kitchen, garage or from rooms with no exit.
• Is there a safe room you could go to? The bathroom with a secure lock?
• Do your children have a place of safety in the house?
• Do they know how to call the Police and what to say?
• Identify safe places near you. If not a relative or a friend’s, then 24hr supermarkets, garages, A&E, firestations. Do not be embarrassed to ask for help in an emergency.
Thinking of leaving the abuser
Thinking of leaving / Leaving safely
• DO NOT LET THE ABUSER KNOW YOU ARE THINKING OF LEAVING • Do you know where you could go and how you could get there?
• Have a small bag already packed and make sure the perpetrator cannot find it.
• Be realistic, do not pack too much. The Police can help you recover items later.
• Leave when it is safe to do so i.e. when the abuser is out or at work.
• TAKE THE CHILDREN WITH YOU.
Suggestions of what to take with you
• Birth certificates.
• Necessary school/medical records.
• National Insurance Number.
• Immigration documents.
• Bank details, credit/debit cards.
• Tenancy agreement / mortgage papers / house deeds.
• Car registration and insurance papers, driving licence.
• Any injunction or legal papers.
• Proof of benefit entitlement.
• House, car, work keys.
• Essential medication and prescriptions.
• Address / telephone book.
• Items of sentiment i.e. photographs, jewellery.
• Childrens favourite toys.
• Toiletries, nappies, essential baby equipment.
YOUR SAFETY IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY OF THE ABOVE ITEMS. ITEMS CAN ALL BE REPLACED.
Keeping safe if you have left the abuser but are still in danger
Living without the abuser after separation:
• Call the Police immediately if you fear for your safety.
• Discuss keeping safe with a specialist Essex Police Domestic Abuse Liaison Officer.
• Seek expert legal advice on child contact, residence orders and about options for injunctions.
• Is your home secure? Extra home security is available through the Sanctuary Scheme to help you feel safe.
• Is your smoke alarm working. Essex Fire & Rescue Service will provide you with one for free.
• Notify your neighbours, employers, children’s schools about any injunctions or court orders and ask them to call the Police immediately if they see the perpetrator nearby.
• Make sure the schools, and those who care for any children, know who has authorisation to collect them.
• Consider changing schools, work patterns, routines and routes taken.
• Avoid places frequented by the abuser.
• Do not place yourself in an isolated/vulnerable position when out.
• Close all joint bank accounts.
• Keep a log of all incidents.
• Make contact and engage with a support organisation such as SOS Domestic Abuse Projects
If you are being abused, remember the following:
• Domestic violence is a crime. It is against the law.
• You’re not alone. One woman in four is abused during her lifetime.
• You don’t have to deal with this on your own. Talk to someone you trust or call us on 01702 302333 (women) or 01702 351648 (men). All calls are confidential (within our confidentiality policy).
• Get free legal advice from the National Centre for Domestic Violence (NCDV) on 0844 8044 999.
• The abuse is not your fault. You can’t make someone hit you – violence is a choice and only they are responsible.
• You cannot change your partner. They must accept responsibility for their behaviour.
• Abuse is hardly ever a one-off – it generally gets worse over time. And although abusive people can change, it is rare.
• If you are in danger, call 999. The police have a duty to investigate and charge. They can also offer you protection and help you find safe accommodation.