If you are in danger or need urgent medical assistance, contact your local emergency services.
Make A Plan
Safety planning is crucial whether you decide to remain with an abusive partner or to leave. Making a safety plan involves doing specific things to increase your safety and the safety of your children. It can feel overwhelming to take such steps, but there are additional resources available to help you create a plan that feels right for you.
Protecting Yourself When Living with an Abusive Partner
- Tell someone you trust about the abuse.
- Gauge your partners’ past use/level of force. This may help predict what type of danger you are facing.
- Tell your children that abuse is never right and that it is never their fault, even when someone they love is being abusive.
- Avoid using electronic devices (phone, computer, tablet, etc.) that your partner can access; get information in person or via public computers when possible; click here for more tips on protecting yourself on your phone and online, and here for hiding internet activity that may reveal your research or plans.
- Do not run to where your children are; as your partner may hurt them as well.
- Plan a place to go to in case of emergency, as well as a backup location, in case your partner finds out your initial plan. Teach your children how to get help. Make sure to tell them not to get between you and your partner when there is violence. Plan a code word to signal them to get help or to leave.
- Ask your neighbours, friends and family to call the police if they hear sounds of abuse and to look after your children in an emergency.
- If an argument or violent situation develops, move to a space where you are able to easily escape (ensure you are near a door, not a corner). Try not to enter a room with access to potential weapons (i.e. kitchen, workshop/garage, bathroom).
- Hide your keys, cell phone, money and copies of important documents near your planned escape route.
Preparing to Leave
- Contact the police or a local women’s shelter. Let the police or staff know you intend to leave an abusive situation and ask for support. Ask for an officer who specializes in women abuse cases (Thunder Bay Police has a Domestic Violence Unit).
- If you have injuries, try to visit the doctor or emergency room for medical care and to have your injuries documented. Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre has Sexual Assault/Domestic Violence nurses who are specifically trained to support your needs as a survivor of abuse. You can request to see one of them.
- Gather pictures, jewellery and objects of sentimental value, as well as toys and comforting items for your children and bring them to a safe place ahead of time.
- Clear your phone of the last phone numbers you called to avoid your partner utilizing redial.
- Gather important documents: identification, bank cards, financial papers related to family assets, last Canada Income Tax Return, keys, medication, pictures of the abuser and your children, passports, health cards, personal address/telephone book, cell phone, and legal documents (e.g. immigration papers, house deed/lease, restraining orders/peace bonds). Store these items safely so you can easily take them with you, and make copies to keep with someone you trust.
- Consult a lawyer and keep any evidence of physical abuse such as photos. Keep a journal of all violent incidents, noting dates, events, threats, and any witnesses.
When You Leave
- Request a police escort or ask a friend, neighbour or family member to accompany you when you leave.
- Do not tell your partner about leaving. Just leave quickly without notice.
- Contact a local women’s shelter; this temporary accommodation may be safer than going to a place where your partner will look for you, and the shelter can offer essential transitional support.
- Take your children with you.
After You Leave
- Visit the closest police station and speak to an officer who specializes in women abuse cases.
- Consider applying for a restraining order that may protect you and your children from your abuser. Keep it with you at all times.
- Provide police with a copy of any legal orders you may have against your partner.
- Contact a lawyer or legal aid clinic concerning actions to protect yourself and your children.
- Create a brand new email account and change all of your other passwords (online banking, phone, social media accounts, and any other online accounts you have). Choose passwords your partner would not guess.
- Use the privacy settings for any social media, like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Flickr or Pinterest.
- Be careful what you share on social media and with whom: your partner may not see your Facebook post, but a mutual friend may unwittingly share it, so think about what your partner might do with that information should that happen.
- Consider changing any service provider you may have shared with your partner; get a new phone with caller ID and an unlisted/blocked number.
- Inform your children’s school or daycare about the current situation and provide copies of all relevant documents (restraining/custody order).
- Take extra precautions at work, at home, and in the
- Consider telling your supervisor and co-workers about your situation, and tell them to call the police if your partner shows up at your workplace.
- Ask neighbours to look after your children in cases of emergency; tell them to call the police if they see your partner.
- Try to avoid frequenting those places your partner will know you visit; consider using a different grocery store, fitness centre, place of worship, etc.
- Keep a record of your partner’s actions (threatening messages, Facebook posts, etc.); print them if possible and show them to the police and your lawyer as evidence of ongoing abuse.